Written by Rik Palieri

About thirty years ago, I had the idea of following the footsteps of my hero Pete Seeger and his first band called The Almanac Singers.

The Almanac Singers; Pete, Woody Guthrie, Millard Lampell & Lee Hays, were a group of folk musicians who believed that the world could be a better place if we all worked  and sang together. In their mission to get everyone singing  in 1941 they jumped into a midnight blue Buick and traveled  from coast to coast singing in labor halls throughout the USA.  Around 1983, this romantic vision of bringing music to the union halls inspired me to try to recreate the old tour. Even though I had an enthusiastic letter from Pete Seeger urging me to give it a try , I was just too young and inexperienced to make it work. So Pete’s letter sat for decades in my files.

Then last year, I met a musician named George Mann who shared my love for the old Labor Songs and who had been a union organizer for many years. We thought that by pulling our skills together that we could bring this old dream back to life! While George started booking the tour I went to visit Pete Seeger to record his memories of the old tour and then spent a day researching the original tour with help from The Woody Guthrie Archives reading the letters from the Almanac Singers. It took a lot of work but we soon saw the dream come true as we started following the footsteps of our old Labor heroes in shows from Pittsburgh to San Francisco from Butte Montana to Buffalo NY.

Rik and George on the Almanac TrailAs part of the project  George and I  also recorded a CD of the songs that we sang along the tour, along with friends, Anne Feeney, Guy Davis ,Dom Flemons with a wonderful narration by old Pete Seeger. Now with the release of our CD we can look back on our own great adventure and realize that we are helping plant seeds for a new generation to enjoy and learn these old songs.

One of the best known Labor songs from our CD is a traditional song  called “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad”  It has been sung by travelers from all walks of life, who are looking for a better life.  It is an easy song to play on the guitar using only three chords ; G,C, D7.I’m going down this road feeling bad, There are many verses to this song here are a few, but it is easy to make up your own too.

 

I’m going down this road feeling bad
I’m going down this road feeling bad, lord, lord
And I ain’t a-gonna be treated this a-way

Goin’ where the climate suits my clothes.
Goin’ where the climate suits my clothes.
Goin’ where the climate suits my clothes.
I don’t want to be treated this away

I’m going where those chilly winds don’t blow
I’m going where those chilly winds don’t blow
Going where those chilly winds don’t blow
And I don’t want to be treated this a way.

You can have some fun trying to make up your own verse.

This is what Pete Seeger would call a “Zipper song” as you can zip in any word to create a new verse .

You can try something like this;
I ‘m going where the summer last all year ( X 3)
And I don’t want to be treated this a way.

I ‘m going where there is food for everyone ( X 3)
And I don’t want to be treated this a way.

I ‘m going where all people live in dignity
And I don’t want to be treated this a way.
You can listen to George and I sing the song  on our new CD  The Almanac Trail .

To hear more about the story of The Almanac Trail see-
http://digital.vpr.net/post/following-footsteps-legends


The CD is now available world wide  at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rikpalieriandgeorgemann

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