Dear Friends: This month we can announce the publication of our songbook, Working Class Heroes. This is not to be confused with the release of the CD of the same name. The CD is comprised of our performance of twenty songs. The same songs are presented with musical notation (including guitar chords) in the songbook. The two are complimentary and are best enjoyed together.
If you are interested in obtaining songbook and/or CD please contact the following:
A History of Struggle in Song: A Songbook
Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore
Working-Class Heroes is an organic melding of history, music, and politics that
demonstrates with remarkably colorful evidence that workers everywhere will
struggle to improve their conditions of life. And among them will be workers
who share an insight: in order to better our lot, we must act collectively to
change the world. Carefully curated by Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore, this
profusely illustrated treasury of song sheets, lyrics, photographs, histories, and
biographical sketches explores the notion that our best hope lies in the capacity
of ordinary working people to awaken to the need to emancipate ourselves
and all of humanity.
Featuring over a dozen songwriters, from Joe Hill to Aunt Molly Jackson,
Working-Class Heroes delivers a lyrical deathblow to the myth that so-called
political songs of the twentieth century were all being written by intellectuals
and outside agitators in New York. Many, like Ella May Wiggins, were literally
murdered by the bosses. Others, like Sarah Ogan Gunning, watched their
children starve to death and their husbands die of black lung, only to rise up
singing against the system that caused so much misery. Their heroism resulted
not from their being different from their fellow workers but from being the same.
Most of the songs collected here are from the early twentieth century, yet their
striking relevance to current affairs invites us to explore the historical conditions
that inspired their creation: deep, systemic crisis, advancing fascism, and the
threat of world war. In the face of violent terror, these working-class songwriters
bravely stood up to fight oppression. Such courage and heroism is immortal,
such heroes should be celebrated and their songs can still lift our spirits, if we
sing them today.
Heroes featured in this twenty-song collection: Sarah Ogan Gunning, Ralph
Chaplin, Woody Guthrie, Ella May Wiggins, Joe Hill, Paul Robeson, John
Handcox, Aunt Molly Jackson, Jim Garland, Alfred Hayes, Joseph Brandon,
and several more anonymous proletarian songwriters whose names have been
long forgotten, though their words are immortal.