Solidarity Forever less a Day
It's not just in the education system that the forces of darkness seem to prevail.
My dad had been a Union shop steward at a B.C. Hydro Generating Station in Chemainus, B.C. after working for years in the Port Alberni Pulp Mill where he was a chemist, so I grew up in a home that valued the role of unions in protecting workers. I managed to get a job as a labourer at that same Hydro plant (my dad had since transferred to Nanaimo where he was a communications technician - a job he loved). One day the boss asked me and my work partner to go into the exhaust system and start a cleaning process on the "tubes." (hot & dirty work) When we got to the door we found it bolted solidly, so we got a very large wrench and opened the door and started work. Oh My! We were hauled before the men and reamed out for having violated a union precept. Apparently, only the members of the bolt undo-ers union are allowed to do such tasks. After apologizing profusely we were forgiven and allowed to carry on with the work.
Flash Forward to Frank the musician. Having had such favourable response to the O Canada arrangement, we were approached by the media heads of the BCGEU to do an arrangment of the Union standard from the Arlo Guthrie days, Soldarity Forever. It took awhile to turn a pretty pedantic song designed to be sung by anyone who could open their mouth and have a sound come out and was a rip of "John Brown's Body" (presumably turning over in his grave). I did so and the Union heads were pleased with the results. As part of the plan I sang it live with a backing track to open their annual convention out at U.B.C. This was on a Friday. The response was terrific!
SOLIDARITY FOREVER: Ludwig arrangement (I have to trim some silence off the beginning - thanks for your patience)
On Sunday, I received a frantic call from the media coordinator who said that they had a particularly fractious conference with everyone at each others' throats and would I please come out and sing the arrangment to close the conference. Of course I said I'd be happy to, had a fast shower, got dressed and roared out to U.B.C to make it in time for 4:30 p.m. On arriving, the arguing was still in process and finally after waiting about 2 more hours, the commitee leaders managed to "table" the outstanding and unresolveable issues (table means to move to a future date). At that point I was given the go ahead to do the wrapup song. Before I did, I made a short statement in an effort to bring people together. I said that it had been my observation that when arguments are the most heated, that it is because people are passionate and care, and that they all had that in common - and asked them to join me in singing. The intro started and I no sooner sang the first line, when someone in the audience started yelling "POINT OF ORDER, POINT OF ORDER"..I looked over at the organizers and they indicated that I should stop so they could resolve this. (point of order essentially is stopping proceedings on a technicality, either legal or based on precedent.) After stopping, I had to listen to this rude, stupid, old butt-hole of a piece of human feces, insist that "they" had sung Solidarity Forever the same way since the "30s and that they should do it the same way now. I was too stunned to do anything but look to the organizers for direction...they were equally as aghast and confused, so I invited the leadership up and started singing the original, plodding a capella version..the problem for me was, that I had worked so hard to make subtle changes to the song, that I didn't really know how to do it the original way...about half way through (there are a million verses), I handed the microphone - the passing of the torch - and walked off. As I passed the chief media rep, I said, "this is going to cost you" and kept walking...he said, "call me Monday". to the Union's credit, they gave me a handsome bonus and were most apologetic. In retrospect, I wish I had launched myself off the stage and throttled the "Bas...." In that one 'point of order' he unravelled all the positivity of the union process and my attempts to bring people together....on second thought, someone else should have found a strike barrel to put the guy in and shut him up!.....now that's something I think the membership could have agreed on.
Notwithstanding the above, I still believe in the cause.