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Ballads of Sacco & Vanzetti


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Performer Notes
  • BALLADS OF SACCO & VANZETTI is a collection of songs in tribute to Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were executed in Boston in 1927. Moses Asch of Folkways Records commissioned Guthrie to write the songs in 1945, and released them in 1960. This reissue includes extensive notes, lyrics and a bitter letter Guthrie wrote to Judge Webster Thayer during the making of the album; Thayer was long dead at the time. Sacco and Vanzetti, who were convicted of robbery and murder, were pardoned of their crimes in 1977, 50 years after their deaths.
  • Personnel: Woody Guthrie (vocals, acoustic guitar); Pete Seeger (vocals, acoustic guitar).
  • Reissue producers: Anthony Seeger, Jeff Place.
  • Recorded in 1947 and 1951. Originally released on Folkways (FH 5485). Includes liner notes by Anthony Seeger and Jeff Place, original release liner notes by Moses Asch and a letter by Woody Guthrie to Judge Webster Thayer.
  • Liner Note Authors: Jeff Place; Moses Asch.
  • Recording information: 01/1947.
  • Editors: Irwin Silber; Moses Asch.
  • Unknown Contributor Roles: Pete Reiniger; Woody Guthrie.
  • In Boston in 1927, Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted--on slim evidence--of robbery and murder and put to death. Sacco and Vanzetti remained a cause cTlFbre in anarchist, socialist and other left-wing political circles long after their deaths, due to widely held beliefs that their convictions and executions were politically motivated.
  • In 1945, Folkways Records founder Moses Asch commissioned leftist folksinger Woody Guthrie to write a number of ballads about the Sacco and Vanzetti case. The songs were recorded in the late '40s, with equally committed folksinger Pete Seeger contributing banjo and backing vocals. The songs range from gospel-laced allegories like "The Flood and the Storm" to straightforward story songs. The most fervent are directed to the deceased victims, but the most bitter are directed to "Old Judge Thayer" and "You Souls of Boston." The album ends with Seeger's heart-tugging "Sacco's Letter to His Son."
Professional Reviews
Musician (6/96, p.90) - "...The subject matter was perfect for Guthrie: lots of fascinating personal detail with political implications....America's greatest folksinger, inspired and inspirational..."
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