Saturday, April 14, 2007

DUSTBOWL - Environment vs Capitalism

April 14 1935 is the day, so Woody Guthrie reminds us, that the Great Duststorm swept over Kansas and Oklahoma as the dustbowl took its vengeance on capitalist farming in the United States.

John Steinbeck chronicled that double disaster - the disaster of nature and the disaster of capitalism -in his powerful novel The Grapes of Wrath; Guthrie captured both disasters and the sweep and import of the novel in his Dustbowl Ballads, some of which namechecked Preacher Casey and Tom Joad, characters from the novel.

Woody was a communist who never joined the Party. He is famous for the slogan "This machine kills fascists!" that he emblazoned on his guitar.

On this day we commemorate Woody and the tragedy of the Dustbowl by reprinting the lyrics to The Great Duststorm (Great Storm Disaster).

Dust Storm Disaster(The Great Dust Storm)

On the 14th day of April of 1935,
There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky.
You could see that dust storm comin', the cloud looked deathlike black,
And through our mighty nation, it left a dreadful track.
From Oklahoma City to the Arizona line,
Dakota and Nebraska to the lazy Rio Grande,
It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down,
We thought it was our judgement, we thought it was our doom.
The radio reported, we listened with alarm,
The wild and windy actions of this great mysterious storm;
From Albuquerque and Clovis, and all New Mexico,
They said it was the blackest that ever they had saw.
From old Dodge City, Kansas, the dust had rung their knell,
And a few more comrades sleeping on top of old Boot Hill.
From Denver, Colorado, they said it blew so strong,
They thought that they could hold out, but they didn't know how long.

Our relatives were huddled into their oil boom shacks,
And the children they was cryin' as it whistled through the cracks.
And the family it was crowded into their little room,
They thought the world had ended, and they thought it was their doom.

The storm took place at sundown, it lasted through the night,
When we looked out next morning, we saw a terrible sight.
We saw outside our window where wheat fields they had grown
Was now a rippling ocean of dust the wind had blown.

It covered up our fences, it covered up our barns,
It covered up our tractors in this wild and dusty storm.
We loaded our jalopies and piled our families in,
We rattled down that highway to never come back again.

No comments: