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Songs of Hard Times: Up, Over & Through (1936​-​1982)

by Various Artists

(Translation from Dominican Kweyol:) Mother, mother, death is bad. Mother, mother, death is not sweet. Mother, mother, death is bad. If I had some money I would buy a box [casket] Alas, mother, my mother went. Mother, mother, I have no father.
[Translation by Goffredo Plastino:] Tomorrow is a holiday, we have no work I must find my sweetheart I must find her because she is beautiful She has a star on her heart [A star] on her heart that shines forth Love gives me consolation Consolation that beats in my heart My true love wants to leave me If he leaves me, he’ll be doing me a favor For I want to enjoy my youth
(Translation by Josemi Sánchez Velasco:) If you're going to dig deeply And the earth has blueberries No matter how hard you swing the hoe Don't hit it as hard as you'd like to. If you had [as many] olive trees As you have fantasies The Manzanares River Would flow past your door. The [worker] with a full belly Doesn't ask whether it's 11:00 [i.e., very hot] Wherever he steps it resounds He stands up to more [duress] than does bronze.
[Translation by Judith R. Cohen]: Soloist: As happy as the birds in Spring, We also are happy coming from this sad Winter. For some time now we’ve been thinking of taking a walk along the street, The day’s arrived, as we’d thought. If today’s anyone’s sad, they should come to Ondarroa with us And they’ll be happy with us. Men’s chorus: Young lads, pay attention! The young girls of Ondarroa know how to dress up. Even when you’re all spruced up, it won’t be easy to get to know them all. My beautiful beloved, let’s be happy; this year there’s no sea bream. The anchovies will come when there are some; we’ll make money next year. [Irrinitzi]
[Translation by Peter Manuel, who explains that "the enigmatic text to this song, as in most tan singing, is drawn from published verse anthologies obtained from India.] O God, blessed is your court Sadhus are sitting in the heat and the dust, having transcended the world. Jesters and princes are gathered around you in your palace [But meantime] the virtuous wife lacks even simple cotton cloth and only has dry and tasteless food. Says Kabir, the fakir calls, everything is topsy-turvy, Truth calls, to rush and strike the world, while people are trusting in lies.


A 20-track Bandcamp-exclusive, prepared specifically for these trying times (Spring 2020). Featuring songs regarding difficulties, worries, and troubles — and various approaches of enduring and/or transcending them — drawn from the Caribbean, Spain, Italy, Scotland, England, and around the USA. Includes six previously unreleased tracks (see asterisks). May they provide some additional inspiration to you on your way up, over and through.


released March 20, 2020

Compiled by Nathan Salsburg. Cover art by Kiki Smith-Archiapatti.


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Alan Lomax Archive

Alan Lomax (1915–2002) was a documentarian, ethnologist, cultural activist, and arguably the foremost folklorist of the 20th century. Over his seven-decade career he collected thousands of audio recordings of folk and traditional music from around the US and the world, and dedicated himself to the pursuit of what he called "cultural equity." 100% of proceeds go to the Assoc. for Cultural Equity. ... more

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