Banks of Marble


Banks of Marble


The Banks are Made of Marble
A Song by Les Rice©Stormking Music 1950

I’ve traveled round this country
From shore to shining shore
It really made me wonder
The things I heard and saw.

I saw the weary farmer
 Plowing sod and loam
 l heard the auction hammer
 A knocking down his home

But the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are stuffed with silver
That the  farmer sweated for

l saw the seaman standing
Idly by the shore
l heard the bosses saying
Got no work for you no more

But the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are stuffed with silver
That the  seaman sweated for

I saw the weary miner
Scrubbing coal dust from his back
I heard his children cryin
Got no coal to heat the shack

But the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are stuffed with silver
That the  miner sweated for

I’ve seen my brothers working
Throughout this mighty land
l prayed we’d get together
And together make a stand

Final Chorus
Then we’d own those banks of marble
With a guard at every door
And we’d share those vaults of silver
That we have sweated for


Notes
 

 In the notes to this song on Pete Seeger’s 1959 Folkways LP ‘American Industrial Songs’ Irwin Silber wrote:
 

Les Rice, the composer of this song, is a New York State apple farmer and one-time president of the Ulster County chapter of the Farmers Union. His songs have made him well-known to farmers throughout the northeast. Perhaps his most well-known composition is "Banks of Marble" which achieved great popularity among union members throughout the country and even in Canada, where new verses have been found.
 

This song, written around 1948-49. deals with the farmer’s perennial problem of "parity" and how it affects the farmer’s life.

‘I’m sixty per cent an American, I’m sixty per cent a man. That’s what parity says I am, That’s the law of the land. Now, do I work sixty per cent of each day? Eat sixty per cent of my meals? And does my truck take me into town on sixty per cent of it’s wheels?

Now will my chicks be content to eat just sixty per cent of their mash? And will the middleman give my throat just sixty per cent of a slash? Now all you workers in city and town, I know your budget’s a mess; But when you get down to that last lousy buck, remember I’ve forty cents less!’

The song has gained new resonance since the 2008-2009 financial meltdown!
 

union songs……….a selection by mark gregory

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