Take a trip with me in 1913,
To Calumet, Michigan, in the copper country.
I will take you to a place called Italian Hall,
Where the miners are having their big Christmas ball.

I will take you in a door and up a high stairs,
Singing and dancing is heard everywhere,
I will let you shake hands with the people you see,
And watch the kids dance around the big Christmas tree.

You ask about work and you ask about pay,
They'll tell you they make less than a dollar a day,
Working the copper claims, risking their lives,
So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives.

There's talking and laughing and songs in the air,
And the spirit of Christmas is there everywhere,
Before you know it you're friends with us all,
And you're dancing around and around in the hall.

Well a little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights,
To play the piano so you gotta keep quiet,
To hear all this fun you would not realize,
That the copper boss' thug men are milling outside.

The copper boss' thugs stuck their heads in the door,
One of them yelled and he screamed, "there's a fire,"
A lady she hollered, "there's no such a thing.
Keep on with your party, there's no such thing."

A few people rushed and it was only a few,
"It's just the thugs and the scabs fooling you,"
A man grabbed his daughter and carried her down,
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.

And then others followed, a hundred or more,
But most everybody remained on the floor,
The gun thugs they laughed at their murderous joke,
While the children were smothered on the stairs by the door.

Such a terrible sight I never did see,
We carried our children back up to their tree,
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree,
And the children that died there were seventy-three.

The piano played a slow funeral tune,
And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon,
The parents they cried and the miners they moaned,
"See what your greed for money has done."

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1913 Massacre Lyrics as written by Woodie Guthrie


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The 1913 Massacre song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI am stunned that nobody has posted much in regard to any Woody G. song. They are all gold. Especially this one. It's like Rage Against the Machine from the 20's and 30's. This song is especially heart-wrenching as it is based on the true story of the hardships that early working-class Americans has to endure so that we today could have things like safe working conditions and labor unions.
    moeheadon July 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentman, moe head, i totally agree with u.... man... woody guthrie is the greatest, and its not very often that u have a name like mine and have an amazing artist with the same name.. ha
    woodyheableron February 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a very sad song. Generally woody's voice kind of annoys me a little, but this song is so strong it shines through. Nothing is as gutting as a bleak folk song. I just read up on the "Italian Hall Massacre" of 1913. Woody tweaked the facts - perhaps for the sake of rhyme, or for effect. As it turns out, 59 children died and 14 adults, for the total of 73.
    PaulSouthon September 28, 2014   Link

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