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The Hostage

Tom Paxton
Language: English


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‎[1971?]‎
Testo e musica di Tom Paxton.‎
Non credo che Paxton l’abbia mai incisa.‎
Venne interpretata invece da Judy Collins nel suo album del 1973 intitolato “True Stories ‎and Other Dreams”.‎



Come Attica Blues e Attica State, un brano scritto dopo il tragico epilogo di una rivolta nel ‎penitenziario ‎di Attica, New York, avvenuta nel settembre del 1971. A scatenare la rivolta fu – ‎insieme alle ‎pessime condizioni carcerarie e alla ferocia dei secondini – l’assassinio del leader delle ‎Black ‎Panthers George Jackson avvenuto qulche tempo prima nella prigione californiana di San Quentin. ‎L’allora ‎governatore Nelson Rockefeller (già, uno della celebre famiglia di nababbi) fece finta di ‎voler ‎trattare ma poi ordinò alla polizia di intervenire per ripristinare l’ordine. I reparti ‎antisommossa, ‎entrati nel perimetro del carcere, lanciarono un gran numero di lacrimogeni e poi si ‎misero a sparare ‎alla cieca sicchè alla fine si contarono 39 morti, dieci dei quali erano ostaggi in ‎mano ai rivoltosi. ‎
La prospettiva narrata nella canzone è proprio quella di un secondino che viene preso in ostaggio e ‎poi ucciso nel corso della maldestra e criminale irruzione della polizia.‎
La commissione istituita per indagare sulla vicenda concluse che “Con ‎l’eccezione dei massacri di ‎Indiani alla fine dell’800, l’assalto con cui la polizia di New York pose ‎fine ai quattro giorni di ‎rivolta nella prigione di Attica è stato il più sanguinoso scontro tra ‎Americani dall’epoca della ‎Guerra Civile”.‎
I'm a guard in grey iron prison
Least I was till now
It was never a picnic social, never a day
They never come in laughin'
And no one ever taught them how
It was damn hard work and you wouldn't believe the pay

It was early in the morning Lord,
I wasn't but half awake
When the cons went up and took us by surprise
I never was one for shakin'
But I found it hard to stand
With a six-inch blade held right between my eyes

We could hear the siren blowin'
Somebody yelling things
Then it got so quiet you could hear a bird walk by
They all had masks on their faces
They spoke with the voice of kings
‎"If they come in shootin', you know you're bound to die."

I turned to a buddy named Willy
I said, "Willy, it'll be all right
If they meant to kill us we'd be halfway down to hell
See they hijack a plane in the desert
And the government screams and cries
But to save our lives they open up a prison cell."

So the days kept a-comin' and a-goin'
Tension was a-gettin' high
But I wasn't too worried, I figured I knew the score
I knew they was talkin' to someone
I knew they was willin' to try
So I figured my freedom was a matter of a day or two more

Then Jesus, early this mornin'
The whirlybird dropped the gas
It made me puke and it brung me to my knees
The bullets came like hailstones
I heard the first one pass
Then they cut down Willy and they got Jim Kelly and me

They come in yellin' curses
Like they was crossin' the River Rhine
Shot down every goddamned thing they saw
And as I lay there wounded
I took another one in the spine
Poor Jim Kelly got another one in the jaw

They say we had our throats cut
By a band of desperate men
They say they saved just as many of us as they could
Well, the Governor, he should know it
And I think I'll say it again
That the Governor cut my throat and he cut it good

Yeah, let 'em take the Governor
Hold him for a couple of days
See who goes in shootin' to set him free
Hell, they'd open every jail in the country
And send 'em on their way
They'd never do to him what the Governor did to me

Contributed by Bartleby - 2011/12/22 - 14:28



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