Take This Hammer

It is time to thank the Unapologetic Mexican and his marvelously creative site for permission to use the images of Emiliano Zapata and of the UFW flag which now appear in my sidebar. If you click on these, you will go right down the rabbit hole, and end up somewhere very interesting. In honor of the UFW we will observe this early picture of César Chávez, from the magnificent Berkeley Sunsite. There is a great deal of wonderful multimedia material on Chávez. I would love to throw away our intermediate Spanish language textbooks, and just use that. Here, for instance, is one corrido de Cesar Chávez. Here is one by Lalo Guerrero. Here is a third one, with some other songs as well. My favorite Corrido de César Chávez is sung by Los Pingüinos del Norte, and we can listen to a fragment of it.

Topics deserving of discussion here today are an interesting memo from a whiteman, a perceptive comment from a Cajun, the example of a cat, workplaces which are psychic echo boxes or halls of mirrors, and the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The weekend is coming, however, and we must sing. Here is Leadbelly’s “Take This Hammer,” some of which we can listen to in the classic recording.

Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain
Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain
Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain
And tell him I’m a-gone, and tell him I’m a-gone.

If he ask you, was I runnin
If he ask you, was I runnin
If he ask you, was I runnin
Tell him I’s a-flyin, tell him I’s a-flyin.

If he ask you, was I laughin
If he ask you, was I laughin
If he ask you, was I laughin
Tell him I’s a-cryin, tell him I’s a-cryin.

I don’t want no bread and lasses,
I don’t want no bread and lasses,
I don’t want no bread and lasses,
It hurts my pride, it hurts my pride.

Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain
Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain
Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain
And tell him I’m a-gone, and tell him I’m a-gone.

One of the prisoners I work with at Angola is from Leadbelly’s area. He has his same accent, a similar voice, and even some of the same locutions. I never expected to hear such speech from a living person, but there it is.

Axé.

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3 Comments

Filed under Songs

3 responses to “Take This Hammer

  1. !Gracias por los enlaces a los corridos!

  2. Por nada, che. These are two of my early childhood memories:

    a) seeing a UFW play in San Juan Bautista, Califas, with Luis Valdez in person;

    b) walking my first picket line in Goleta, California, against Safeway, for Ceesar Chaavez while he was on a major hunger strike: don’t buy grapes.

    This is why I am addicted to grapes now, by the way, despite the fact that they do not agree with me: years of seeing them and not eating them.

    !!!Sii se puede!!! !!!Que viva la caausa!!!

  3. Lost in some phase of my existence, I didn’t hear about the boycott being settled until several years after the fact, which meant that I was the better part of a decade not eating grapes. Now, despite the fact that I was never a serious grape-eater, I can’t turn ‘em down, especially the little red seedless ones, that I’ll eat like popcorn, if I’m not careful.

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