Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Little Joe the Rustler will rustle never more

One of my favourite LPs (or as they are known these days, vinyls) is this one: My Darling Party Line, given my father by one of the performers on it, Abe Brumberg, in real life a well-known expert on the Soviet Union (and many other things). The other performer is Joe Glazer a well-known writer and singer of labour songs but, clearly, a man who had no truck with the Communist party either in the Soviet Union or, more to the point, in the United States. To say that the songs are irreverent is to use an understatement. The album is a wonderfully funny though often rather sad send-up of many things to do with Communism in the east and west, but particularly the west. The words are written by Glazer and sometimes Brumberg, the tunes are mostly traditional and well known.

I picked one that is very appropriate for today: Little Joe the Rustler to the tune of Little Joe the Wrangler. The only text I could find on line is inadequate and incomplete. So, kind person that I am, I have copied out the much better text from the well-worn leaflet that goes with the LP. (Actually, I know the song by heart.)

Little Joe the Rustler will rustle never more,
His scheming in the Kremlin is all through. 
'Twas back in 1907 that he robbed the Tiflis bank
And he landed in a prison in Baku.

He rustled all through Europe,
And he rustled through the world,
From Germany out to the China sea.
Joe Stalin purged and plundered 
As his black moustache he twirled -
And he did it in the name of liberty.

He rode with comrade Lenin who was leader of the band,
But Stalin had ambitions of his own.
He learned to shoot and rope and ride
Until he led them all,
And he succeeded Lenin to the throne.


Little Joe, he purged Bukharin, Trostsky and the rest,
Zinoviev and many others too. 
He said they all were traitors
And he shot them down like dogs -
Till he alone remained of all that crew.


'Twas in the spring of '53 that Joseph Stalin died,
They laid him next to Lenin in a tomb.
There were no tears, no broken hearts,
No grief throughout the world
When Little Joe the Rustler meat his doom.


Now we come to '61, Nikita is the boss. 
He said to Joe: "We're changing history.
You used to be a hero, Joe, but now you are a bum -
Move over, Joe, you've gotta make room for me!"


Of course, there is one slight inaccuracy in the text. As we know, there were people who mourned the old gangster and mass murderer, people such as Paul Robeson and many others like him.

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