VANZETTI'S ROCK

(WOODY GUTHRIE) (1945-'46)

Demonstration in Berlin, Germany, Aug 1927.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND | SONG LYRICS


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But there is more in the Sacco-Vanzetti case than is contained in a bare recital of its facts and dates. During one morning last week the first mail alone brought to Governor Fuller 57 letters, some urging intercession, others protesting against intercession for Shoemaker Sacco, for Fish-peddler Vanzetti.

Twenty-two members of the British Parliament cabled Governor Fuller, demanding a new trial, viewing with horror the approaching executions of two men whose guilt they question. Last week 7,000 New Yorkers gathered in Union Square, roared "Stop the murder of Sacco & Vanzetti."

In London, in Paris, in The Hague police guard U.S. embassies and consulates, fearing that European radicals will let bombs express their disapproval of Massachusetts justice. Girls of Wellesley and Barnard colleges have petitioned the Governor to intervene. And a long list of liberal intelligentsia, including Jane Addams of Hull House, Romain Rolland (French novelist), Felix Frankfurter of the Harvard Law School faculty, Albert Einstein (relativity theorist) and many another have enrolled themselves with the Sacco-Vanzetti sympathizers.

TIME, April 25, 1927



Lyrics as reprinted in liner notes for "Ballades de Sacco & Vanzetti" (French edition of "Ballads of Sacco & Vanzetti", Folkways/Le Chant du Monde, LDX 74467, 1960s); minor corrections by Manfred Helfert.


I'm standin' on the rock, Vanzetti,
Standin' on the rock, Vanzetti,
Standin' on the rock, Vanzetti,
Where men like you have stood.
I see the tourists, Vanzetti,
Around your Plymouth Rock;
Black glasses, sun goggles, an' glasses,
Smoked glasses to block out the light.
I see 'em come here as you've seen 'em,
But I see lots more than you saw:
I see 'em in fast running cars,
You seen 'em in wagons and carts.

These tourists don't see you, Vanzetti,
The salesmen and gamblers on tour.
Your footprints are dim an' your trail has sprung weeds,
An' their tourist map don't show you there.
The trade union workers, Vanzetti,
Will vacation here and will tour
This rock, an' this town, an' Plymouth around
When statues have souls like yours.

Your picture is painted, Vanzetti,
Your words are carved 'round the frames.
Your songs, an' your poems, an' workin' folks' dreams
Will flame with our greatest of names.
Your name I'll paint on my porters [portals?],
My streets, my mountains, an' shops,
Your hopes that you hoped, an' the dreams that you dreamt --
I'll see that your work never stops.

Those talks for the workers, Vanzetti,
I'll chisel them down on the rock.
I'll tell ev'ry worker to fight like you fought,
Like the Pilgrims that docked on this rock.
I'll scatter your words on my waters,
To the ships, an' the fishes, an' gulls.
I'll cast your fish cart in metal so fine
An' push it around this world.


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