domingo, 25 de octubre de 2009

Malvina Reynolds, canciones y poemas

Malvina Reynolds was born Malvina Milder on August 23, 1900, to a Jewish socialist immigrant family in San Francisco, California. Her parents ran a tailor shop together and their home was filled with political discussion and meetings. Due to her parents’ opposition to the first World War, Lowell High School denied her a high school diploma, but her teachers at Lowell helped her get into the University of California at Berkeley anyway. There she earned both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees, and later, in 1938, her Ph.D. in Romance Philology. Jews and women had a harder time getting good jobs then than now, and throughout the Depression and following years Malvina was unable to find a college teaching position. She worked at this and that, in 1934 marrying carpenter and labor organizer William 'Bud' Reynolds and having a daughter in 1935. In the late forties (which were also her late forties) Bud and Malvina worked together on progressive political campaigns and she performed at folk music events in the Los Angeles area, along with Earl Robinson and other musicians active in Peoples’ Songs (whose Bulletin was a forerunner of Sing Out! magazine). She had been writing the occasional popular or political song since her late thirties; by her fifties, she had increased her output and added children’s songs to the mix. By the time the folk protest movements of the 1960s came along, she had honed her skills and was ready to take on the issues of the day: civil rights, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and the right of workers to organize. Overall she wrote hundreds of songs, some of great beauty and many displaying a sense of humor and wit that has endeared her to performers and listeners from Helsinki to Tokyo. Malvina Reynolds died on March 17, 1978, with gigs on her calendar.

Algunas canciones.

Buying the Package

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1976 Schroder Music Company, renewed 2004.

You're buying the package,
You're buying the dream,
You pay for the ads
On the television screen,
They sell you a story,
They sell you a mood,
But what they don't deliver is food.

Colors, preservatives,
Poison or not.
Just so it sells
And is sure not to rot.
Colorings, additives,
Nothing is real,
No sensible maggot
Would call it a meal.


Movie star glamour,
The ad man's display,
Pay at the check out
And take it away,
The package it comes in
More nourishing far
Than stuff in the box
Or the jar.


The label it reads
Like an alchemist's dream,
You look at the contents
And what does it mean?
Profits for business
And nothing for you,
But sugar and grief,
And a wheat flake or two.


Refined till its tasteless,
And taste added in,
The stockmarket rises,
Executives grin,
They'd never get rich
If you ate what you should,
There's profit in ads
So why bother with food?


Movie star glamour
And slogans that stick,
What do they care
If the stuff makes you sick?
Big corporations
Have better to do
Than think of the health
Of the customer, too.

Back Alley Surgery

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1978 Schroder Music Company, renewed 2006.

Supreme Court sits in Washington
Every one a mother's son.
Women's fate is lost and won
Behind that heavy door.
The justices preside in noble ease,
None of them ever suffers pregnancies,
So they hand out decisions such as these:
Back alley abortions for the poor.

Yes, back alley surgery kitchen knife solutions,
Wire hanger abortions for the poor.

Well-to-do people can manage well,
Anything they need they can buy and sell,
But the teenage drifter can walk in hell
Or roll on the back room floor.
And the battered children who bruise and bleed,
And the mother with too many kids to feed,
Pro-life offers them in their need
Back alley abortions for the poor.

Yes, back alley surgery kitchen knife solutions,
Wire hanger abortions for the poor.

Bitter Rain

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1965 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1993.

The world's too much for me,
It's getting so
Too much needs doing here
That I can't do.
For me, it's not too bad,
I can't complain,
But somewhere a kid without a coat
Stands in the bitter rain.

The world's too much for me,
It's like the end,
Too many helpless ones
I can't defend.
I can protect myself
From cold and pain,
But somewhere a hungry kid
Walks in the bitter rain.

The world's too much for me
Although I've tried,
Too much goes on, too much
I can't abide.
The old give orders
And the young are slain,
And somewhere a bleeding kid
Dies in the bitter rain.

God Bless the Grass

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1964 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1992. People often think of this as an ecology song, but Malvina wrote it after reading Mark Lane’s book, Rush to Judgment, about the Kennedy assassination.

God bless the grass that grows thru the crack.
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the truth that fights toward the sun,
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done.
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air,
And after a while it is growing everywhere,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the grass that grows through cement.
It's green and it's tender and it's easily bent.
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the grass that's gentle and low,
Its roots they are deep and its will is to grow.
And God bless the truth, the friend of the poor,
And the wild grass growing at the poor man's door,
And God bless the grass.

Blood on the Grapes

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1968 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1996. Written in support of the boycott of California grapes called for by Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers Organizing Committee in 1968.

There's blood on the grapes,
So we're not buying grapes this year.
They're pretty and sweet
But they're not fit to eat
'Cause there's blood on the grapes this year,
Blood on the grapes.

Do you know how the grape pickers live?
Do you know of their hot heavy loads?
When they turn to the union,
The thugs run them down on the roads.
Do you know of the starvation pay
For long grinding days in the sun.
And when they organize,
They are met with the club and the gun.


The growers are lords on the land.
They rule over grape county law.
In the fields of our state,
There's no justice for workers at all.
The strikers are standing their ground,
The growers are brutal with fear,
And where I am concerned,
I am having no grapes this year.

Guerrillas in Guatemala

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1965 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1993.

Did you cry when Jacob Arbenz was exiled from Guatemala?
When Castillo Armas destroyed the elected government in nineteen fifty four?
Do not mourn for Guatemala,
The guerrillas are still in the mountains.
I went with Augusto Loarca into the Sierra de las Minas,
Augusto Loarca, Lieutenant Colonel of the army of the democracy.
Then he became a leader
Of the Guatemalan Guerrillas.

He told how some of the army, defeated, went into the mountains,
When United Fruit and the Latafundistas destroyed the democracy.
The peasants asked Arbenz for guns,
But he was afraid, and denied them.
The farmers went back to their bitter land--it was an old story.
The Yankee company held seven hundred acres of the best plantation soil,
They tilled less than one tenth,
While the farmer had five rocky acres.

But do not mourn for Guatemala, prisoner of the Yankee Fruit Company,
Do not grieve for the country whose elected government was destroyed in 1954.
Do not mourn for Guatemala,
The Guerrillas are still in the mountains.
Nobody knows where they are, or when they are coming, the Guerrilla army,
They move like shadows through the forest, they are lost among the people in the hills.
Azurdia's troops rage in the village.
"The Guerrillas have been here! Where are they?"

"The Guerrillas? We have not seen them." But only last night was a meeting,
And today the troops arrest and torture, but no one will speak or answer.
Not even the children, who were there,
And the women also are silent.
United Fruit and the Latafundistas keep pushing their holdings,
They send their cattle to feed on the peasants' corn, they elbow them from their land.
In the village there is a trial.
They are trying the landholder's agent.

The landholder's agent is tried at the meeting, although he is absent.
The farmers are there, coming from miles with their children, their wives, their machetes.
The Guerrillas also are there,
The Guerrillas, the arm of the people.
Evidence is heard, the landholder's agent gets judgment and execution--
A shot that comes from the woods in the night from a Guerrilla rifle.
The farmer replants the land,
No agent is sent for replacement.

There are legends about the Guerrillas in Salvador and Guatemala.
Yon Sosa is washed in magic; no bullet can kill him, the rebel commander.
He can change his form at will.
His army grows by enchantment.
A sergeant of police tells the story to his men at night in the barracks.
"We had the house surrounded, they would not surrender in spite of the fire.
A black dog ran out and vanished.
That was their leader, Yon Sosa."

It is true that there is a magic that surrounds the Guerrilleros.
The comradeship of the peasants shields and protects them wherever they go.
They vanish among the people,
They march untouched through the forests.
The farmer will tear the boards from his hut for a fire to warm them,
He will feed them the best that he has, and shield them from danger.
For the Guerrillas are of the people,
And they are the arm of the people.

Do not mourn for Guatemala, do not mourn for Guatemala.
The organized Guerrilla army moves at will in the Sierras.
Their stronghold is Izabel Province.
Headquarters of the Yankee Fruit Company.

Henry Ford's Engine

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1977 Schroder Music Company, renewed 2005.

Henry Ford's engine has to go.
Henry Ford's engine has to go.
It has us pulling up the black oil
That once was safely down below,
So Henry Ford's engine has to go.

We burn the gasoline, it kills the air,
We bring the crude stuff in from ev'rywhere,
The pipelines foul the tundra, and the tankers break at sea,
And Henry Ford's engine is the death of you and me.


I have a proposal and it may seem strange,
I think that we could live with it once it was arranged,
We all could take to walking or we all could ride the train,
Or hitch up the horse and buggy and go driving down the lane.

Algunos poemas.


Notes: by Malvina Reynolds; previously unpublished.

Here is the world,
I wish it were better for you,
Little friend.
I did my best, but there's not much
One fellow can do to amend it.
It's gotten too big, too many, too much,
With the scheme and the shout
And the elbows stuck out,
But there's still a wild acre or two
To run in, I guess,
If you can find it,
And a word from the stars
If you listen and mind it,
Small son.

There's a couple of things in your favor,
There's love to betray you to stay,
To linger,
There's youth for a while with a smile and a savor
Like apples and brandy and May.
So have what you can,
Little man,
And the hold of my finger.

Those shiny new eyes
Will see God knows what
Before you have grown to my size.
You'll think that the moon is an apple to pull from the skies,
But you'll have to settle for neon in bloom
Or an unshaded bulb in a tenement room--
It's been done,
Little son


Notes: by Malvina Reynolds; previously unpublished.

Do not mistake me,
Though sometimes I complain,
You're dear to me as my own flesh,
But then,
Sometimes, like my flesh, you ache me,
And cause me pain.


Notes: by Malvina Reynolds; previously unpublished.

Write lines, he says, and put them neatly by,
And in some future day,
People will find them,
And mind them,
After you die
And have been neatly put away.

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