Item no. 28063
|Collection: Wagner Labor Archives|
This 1937 songbook was a product of the Composer’s Collective, a group dedicated to writing and performing revolutionary modernist music for the masses. The Collective was affiliated with the Communist Party USA and was being increasingly drawn towards traditional American music in these years, inspired by the work of folklorists like John and Alan Lomax, and by the simple beauty and utility of the music, and the message of social protest often contained in the songs.
Issued by Workers Library Publishers, “Songs of the People” included African American spirituals, cowboy songs, popular ballads, and hymns. Note how the book’s revolutionary design elements—the ubiquitous dark black and deep red—were combined with a pastoral scene evocative of the music found inside its covers.
This image accompanies the audio recording of "We're Going to Roll the Union On," one of twenty songs you can listen to in the exhibit Labor Sings! Songs from the 1930s and 1940s, featuring highlights from the extraordinary compact disc collection by Ron Cohen and Dave Samualson, Songs for Political Action.