A teller of tales

by Karl Dallas

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1.
One Love 06:49
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O’Connor, the bastard! Called himself a radical but once a squireen, always a squireen. Ready to rat on us, who put him up there, us, foolish enough to trust him, gave him authority over us, him and his fourpence-ha’penny rag. They say he sold over thirty-two thousand copies of his newspaper, and these were passed round from hand to hand in alehouses and mechanics' institutes so the readership was easily ten or twenty times higher than that. All that power! And when push came to shove, he walked away, took the People’s Charter with him into the dustbin of history. He died in bedlam. Serve him right. Hope he rots in hell. . . . Millions signed up to the Charter. When it was rejected in Parliament by 287 votes to 49 it was over six miles long and bore the names of 3,317,702 of the disenfranchised. Feargus O'Connor's newspaper, the Northern Star, put it at 4,800,000 names (in a country of 19 million men, women and children) but was lukewarm to the call for a general strike. We struck anyway. We marched from town to town knocking out the boiler plugs in the factories which would not join us. Three thousand drilled in Wilsden, under a black flag. In Bradford we beat the police in a straight fight. Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, the Potteries, Warwickshire, Wales. Workers as far north as Aberdeen were about to join when the Northern Star denounced the strike as a government provocation: fifteen hundred strikers were arrested and 79 of them transported to Australia. Bastard! We began to realise that as long as we relied upon people like the Irish squireen, O’Connor, we would never regain control of our own lives: out of that realisation, the Labour Party was born. But that is another story.
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Joseph was a wanderer His wife Mary also They had no place to lay their heads Wherever they did go The innkeepers rejected them When they came to town They found a lowly stable To lay their baby down. Travelling people have no homes Travelling people are skin and bones Travelling people are forced to flee Travelling people are the enemy. When Mary had her baby Three kings came from the east They laid their gifts before him Like guests come to a feast. But Herod he was jealous And he sent his soldiers there To ethnic cleanse the city And he filled their hearts with fear. Travelling people have got to go Travelling people go to and fro Travelling people must escape Travelling people flee their fate Jesus was a wanderer His followers also He preached good news to all the poor Wherever he did go. But the high priests and the soldiers Wouldn't hear his words And they nailed him to a cross Like carrion for the birds. Travelling people like you and me Travelling people for eternity Travelling people on a weary way Travelling on to the present day. The wanderers came to this land To find a place to rest They were penned behind barbed wire Not treated like a guest. They said we want to work here We want to pay our way But nobody would hear them Whatever they did say. Travelling people from many lands Travelling people with skilful hands Travelling people in jails confined Travelling people are human kind If you do not go when we tell you to The minister did say We'll break your families up And take your kids away I am not like King Herod Putting children to the sword But the travellers cried in anguish When they heard his bitter words. Travelling people got a right to live Travelling people got a lot to give Travelling people got no home Travelling people want to settle down. December 6, 2003
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What is Freedom? - ye can tell That which slavery is, too well - For its very name has grown To an echo of your own. 'Tis to work and have such pay As just keeps life from day to day In your limbs, as in a cell For the tyrants' use to dwell, So that ye for them are made Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade, With or without your own will bent To their defence and nourishment. 'Tis to see your children weak With their mothers pine and peak, When the winter winds are bleak, - They are dying whilst I speak. 'Tis to hunger for such diet As the rich man in his riot Casts to the fat dogs that lie Surfeiting beneath his eye; 'Tis to let the Ghost of Gold Take from Toil a thousandfold More that e'er its substance could In the tyrannies of old. Paper coin - that forgery Of the title-deeds, which ye Hold to something of the worth Of the inheritance of Earth. 'Tis to be a slave in soul And to hold no strong control Over your own wills, but be All that others make of ye. And at length when ye complain With a murmur weak and vain 'Tis to see the Tyrant's crew Ride over your wives and you - Blood is on the grass like dew. Then it is to feel revenge Fiercely thirsting to exchange Blood for blood - and wrong for wrong - Do not thus when ye are strong. Ye who suffer woes untold, Or to feel, or to behold Your lost country bought and sold With a price of blood and gold - Let a vast assembly be, And with great solemnity Declare with measured words that ye Are, as God has made ye, free - And these words shall then become Like Oppression's thundered doom Ringing through each heart and brain, Heard again - again - again - Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number - Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you - Ye are many - they are few.' Written on the occasion of the massacre carried out by the British Government at Peterloo, Manchester 1819
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You came down from the mountains With the tablets in your hand, And you told us what you thought you’d heard Up there where you’d been higher than any bird. And we tried to understand When you led us from that land, Following your inner light into the desert sand. You led us through the wilderness Where there was no path or road And we trusted in your vision and Believed you’d help us find the promised land. And we tried to keep your code; But the sun is sinking low. It’s too late to reap the seeds we should have sowed. Where are you Moses now the light’s gone out? ’Cos you said we need a leader But suddenly it seems you’ve lost your way And you don’t know what to say And we’ve got to find our way back home alone. The dark is falling silent In the sudden desert night And the cold is striking deep and fast. We’re feeling blind and lonely now, and lost. So we ask you for a light Or a beacon high and bright And we listen as mosquitoes sing and bite. But you give us no reply. It’s like you vanished clean away And climbed again your mountain peak Once more your godsent certainty to seek. We survived until the day. We found where your body lay And none of us could find a prayer to pray. Where were you Moses when the light went out? Perhaps we didn’t need a leader ’Cos suddenly it seems you’ve lost your way And you’ve nothing left to say. Now we’re going to find our way back home alone. Going to make it on our own. September 6, 1971
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Old Ned Ludd 02:19
Old Ned Ludd Hammer in his hand No one’s seen his face But they know he’s a working man Like you and me, like you and me. Our ways are worth preserving From the fact’ries’ noise and grime We ought to work by the seasons And not by the clocking-on time We ought to live Where the hills are grassy green And not be a slave tied to the machine. Old Ned Ludd Told us what to do Took his hammer to the mill And he swung it high and true With you and me, with you and me. I got 17 years transportation For the work we did that night And the people I left behind Had to hide their face from the light When I got back couldn’t see those grassy hills For the piles of shit from their dreary mills. Old Ned Ludd Was sleeping down below I knew that he was waiting But no one told me so For you and me, for you and me. My children’s children’s children Say the works are running down The time has come again To see Ned’s hammer swinging round If things don’t change Someone’s gotta help them on So we can see the rising sun. Old Ned Ludd Never going to die He’s got a hundred thousand faces And I know he’s standing by He’s you and me, he’s you and me. La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-lah.
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Didn't we warn you? When the storm blew Through your towns and cities Why was it a surprise? What's it gonna take to open your eyes? Fire and blood is coming If that's what it takes to make a change. Fire and blood, Yeah yeah yeah, Fire and blood If that's what it takes to make a change. The bankers robbed you of millions, No, make that billions, And you rewarded them with billions more. That's when we decided it was war. I scored a 3D telly from the local store Cos everyone telling me my life was incomplete So I grabbed this opportunity to grab my seat In the front row of the me generation. The beak gave me fifteen years. Well spare your tears Cos I've made a resolution To turn their jails into Universities of revolution. Forget the SWP and the CPB And all the other acronyms. They've got nothing to say That will put off the time that's coming Don't you dare to think of slumming The time of blood and fire Yeah yeah yeah Your future's gonna be dire The time of blood and fire. When the people of France arose And sent the rich to lose their heads There was just one test Perhaps it wasn't the best But keep it simple was the rule Even a fool could understand: Show us your hands. That wouldn't work for us Cos none of has worked for generations So our hands are just as soft as yours. That's no sensation. If you got a Merc and we can't even afford a bike Then we'll torch it. If your shop windows are full of stuff we can't afford Well thank the Lord He gave us bricks and stones To set the record straight We can't wait Any longer. We're feeling strong And getting stronger. Don't ask us when The time is now. That's us you hear knocking on history's door Cos this is war A time of fire and blood Yeah yeah yeah Blood and fire. The flames are mounting higher Fire and blood It's no good Promising jam tomorrow The time is now Now's the time And the time is good. D'you hear me? The time of blood and fire. Join us or burn! Join us or bleed! Blood and fire Yeah yeah yeah Fire and blood.

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released August 25, 2012

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