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Socialist and Labor Songs
An International Revolutionary Songbook
By Elizabeth Morgan
PM PressCopyright © 2014 PM Press
All rights reserved.
by Utah Phillips
Several years ago I had the privilege of performing at the Inn at Celo, North Carolina. While there I was taken to meet an extraordinary gentleman named Ernest Morgan. During our visit, Mr. Morgan showed me the manuscript of a songbook, the one you now hold in your hand, completed in 1958 by Elizabeth Morgan, his wife. Elizabeth Morgan was an enormously talented and energetic woman, who, besides being a fine musician and singer, was also a progressive educator and a deeply committed social and political activist. By the time of her death in 1971, her achievements were great, but the manuscript of songs so patiently compiled remained unpublished.
There I stood in Mr. Morgan's house, with this precious collection in my hands, turning page after page of treasures. Some greeted me as old friends: Harry McClintock's "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" or Joe Hill's "The Preacher and the Slave." Only recently I had been leading participants in a homeless rally in singing Maurice Sugar's "Soup Song." But for the most part, these songs were unknown to me; either they or I had strayed off into some parallel branch of political music and had passed each other by. I had always known of our political and social movements as singing movements, and have been continually astonished at the scope and variety of our people's music. And I am always prepared to be astonished again as I was when I first sampled Elizabeth Morgan's collection. I instinctively knew that it had to be carried through to publication, and who better to publish it than Charles H. Kerr?
It's taken a while, but here it is! These songs are like endangered species that have been restored to the present, to the land of the living. They stuck up for us long ago during dark and troubled times. Our times are dark and troubled, too, but our old songs are still here with us to see us through. Sing away!
Excerpted from Socialist and Labor Songs by Elizabeth Morgan. Copyright © 2014 PM Press. Excerpted by permission of PM Press.
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