Which Side Are You On? – lyrics by Florence Reese

Which Side Are You On?
Rebel Diaz

Which Side Are You On?
Dropkick Murphys

Which Side Are You On?
Natalie Merchant

Which Side Are You On?
Billy Bragg

Which Side Are You On?
Pete Seeger

Which Side Are You on?
Florence Reese
(“an American social activist, poet, and folksong writer. Born in Sharps Chapel, Tennessee the daughter and wife of coal miners, she is best known for the song, Which Side Are You On? written in 1931 during a strike by the United Mine Workers of America in which her husband, Sam Reece, was an organizer.”)

Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell,
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

cho: Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner,
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union,
Till every battle’s won.

They say in Harlan County,
There are no neutrals there.
You’ll either be a union man,
Or a thug for J.H. Blair.

Oh, workers can you stand it?
Oh, tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab,
Or will you be a man ?

Don’t scab for the bosses,
Don’t listen to their lies.
Us poor folks haven’t got a chance,
Unless we organize.

Advertisements
Posted in USA. 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Which Side Are You On? – lyrics by Florence Reese”

  1. Mr. Angelides, Which Side Are You On? « Where’s Our Money Says:

    […] was “Which Side Are You On?” from the 1930s out of the coalfields of Harlan County, […]

  2. anarcho26 Says:

    Are you sure these are the Florence Reese lyrics to the song? It reads more like Seeger’s adaptation.

    Her version reads,
    “My daddy was a miner he’s now in the air and sun, he’ll be with you fellow workers til every battle’s won.”

    “You go to Harlan County, there are no neutrals there…”

    The last verse is Seeger’s addition, I believe. But don’t get me wrong, I still like Seeger’s adaptation to the song.

  3. Billy Pilgrim Says:

    Florence’s actual version (with two additional verses and “gun thug”, not “lousy scab”) can be heard on YouTube at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzudto-FA5Y :

    Come all you poor workers, good news to you I’ll tell,
    How the good old union has come in here to dwell.
    Which side are you on, which side are you on?

    We’re starting our good battle, we know we’re sure to win.
    Because we got the gun thugs lookin’ pretty thin.
    Which side are you on, which side are you on?

    You go to Harlan County, there is no neutral there.
    You’ll either be a union man or a thug for J.H. Blair
    Which side are you on, which side are you on?

    They say they have to guard us to educate their child.
    Their children live in luxury, our children almost wild.
    Which side are you on, which side are you on?

    Gentlemen can you stand it, oh tell me how you can?
    Will you be a gun thug or will you be a man>
    Which side are you on, which side are you on?

    My daddy was a miner, he’s now in the air and sun.
    he be with you, fellow workers, till every battle’s won.
    Which side are you on, which side are you on?

  4. Mike iLL Says:

    Here’s a version we came up with for Occupy Movement:

    NINETY-NINE TO ONE
    Words and music by Florence Reece and Rivka and Mike iLL Kilmer

    Chords: D- D-/C G- Eb7

    Desperation at your door
    With a notice in his bag
    But you still think he only comes
    For those who’s feet will drag

    Communities cooperate
    For the betterment of all
    Some insist they’re better fit
    To dictate to the small.

    [Chorus:]
    Ninety-nine to one
    Ninety-nine to one
    Think this game is over?
    It’s only just begun.

    From early morning ’till the sun gets low
    Work for a man that you’ll never even know
    Defend his wealth and right to grow
    With the memorized words from his radio show.

    When your job goes south and it won’t come back
    Blame it on the Mexicans who live across the tracks
    Faced with pure and simple math
    Claim “Socialism” and threaten to attack

    You sit alone home judging me
    Getting’ your news on Fox TV
    But come down town you just might see
    On so many issues we agree

    Come on all good working people and
    Hear what I just learned
    The system’s got us all in debt
    Makin’ up what can’t be earned

    Is this the Land of Liberty
    Or one big company property
    We’ve come together in unity
    To take back our democracy

    Wealth, like butter, is best when spread
    But you’ll rail against it ’till you’re almost dead
    With a closet full of pills and stale white bread
    Your kids don’t visit ’cause they’re working’ instead

    That white House seats have been reduced
    For the highest bidder is the sorry truth
    If it keeps this way we’ll get our proof
    When there’s credit cards slots on the voting booths

  5. Poetic Discourse and Artistic Modernism &raquo Florence Reese’s: Which Side Are You On? Says:

    […] old union song by Florence Reese. This song has been ‘borrowed’ many times, by many artists and although I have […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s