Pulaski Marching Band Sticking with the Union

Ah, but I like some good old Woody Guthrie!  Here’s the Youtube link to the video, and here’s the commentary on DailyKos.  I am even more thrilled that they transitioned from “On Wisconsin” to “Union Maid” and then back again.  Not so oddly, the commentaters had no clue.   

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come ’round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union, I’m sticking to the union.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union ’til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn’t be fooled by a company stool, she’d always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She’d show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she’d say

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who’s a union man and join the ladies’ auxiliary.
Married life ain’t hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he’s got a union wife.



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23 thoughts on “Pulaski Marching Band Sticking with the Union

  1. The band was from Pulaski wi it was a polka called red Wing and was confirmed by the superintendent this afternoon

  2. So it is just a coincidence that the music is exactly the same as Union Maid? Given the villifying of teacher unions, this is a marvellous coincidence. Gosh!

    1. When Woody Guthrie wrote “Union Maid,” he used the tune for “Redwing,” since it was a popular song and people would only need to learn new words; it’s similar to how “Solidarity Forever” uses the tune to “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

      1. Interesting. Still, it would be rather odd to segue from “On Wisconsin” to Redwing” and then back. To do the same with “Union Maid” makes a whole lot more sense, given recent history.

        1. Absolutely — I think someone on the Daily Kos thread described the “Union Maid” section as what we’re fighting for within the “On Wisconsin” theme. The school superintendent claims he had no idea that the tune was used for a union song, which he probably has to say in this environment, so we’ll never know for sure. Even if it was just a coincidence, it was still pretty darn cool.

  3. It would make sense only to people looking for a desperate connection. If any of you knew Pulaski you would understand why the polka.

  4. John, are you saying that particular polka has Pulaski written all over it? Please, document your sources. There are tons of polkas out there to choose, and only one is also the tune of Union Maid by Guthrie. But, hey, maybe I’m desperate, and you are completely logical. Hey, the people who chose the music may have never even heard of Woody Guthrie for all I know. It could be the biggest coincidence of the year!

    1. Steven, I think you have to apply a little Occum’s Razor here. There is plausibility for either scenario, but it seems to me that the Redwing polka scenario is the more simple and more plausible one. Say the Pulaski Marching Band were performing in 2005 and did the same thing, what would your conclusion in that case be?

      I think too much has been read into this.

      1. Gosh, Rich, if they chose Redwing, which any competent band director would know as the tune to Union Maid, in 2005, it would mean little, as there was no ferment about the role of unions in Wisconsin then. Now we’ve got a Superintendent and a band director who are fighting for their jobs, afraid folks like you will rise up to fire them for orchestrating a labor protest. Of course it is a coincidence, and they just happened to play the tune in an environment where unions are the subject of such fervor in Wisconsin.

        I think you doth protest too much, and with little sense of logic behind you protests.

        1. I’m not sure who you are mistaking me for, but I’m not protesting anything, and I’m not looking to get anyone fired. What I was doing was looking at the facts surrounding two accounts of the same event and applying some rational thinking. Your assumption that it’s a given that any band director would know who Woodie Guthrie is quite a stretch. The man’s been dead over 40 years. And how do you know they are fighting for their jobs? You asked an earlier commenter to provide evidence to back his claim, now I will ask that you do the same.

          Participating in the Tournament of Roses Parade is an honor bestowed on only a select few marching bands. It’s a matter of huge pride for the community they come from, and a crowning achievement in the career of the band director. I find it exceptionally hard to believe that the director would intentionally risk putting his school and his town in anything remotely resembling a negative light and risk his career just in the name of a political stunt. If he says that he picked Red Wing because it was his grandmother’s favorite polka and unless you have compelling evidence to suggest otherwise, then I have to take him at his word.

          1. You really believe a band director wouldn’t know Woody Guthrie’s music? Seriously? Do you have any experience in this area? Seriously, you are out of touch if you remotely think this. Either that, or you have no problem with unqualified band directors. It’s a very popular song, and is in many, many songbooks.

            1. Only if those directors happened to study the history of American folk music in college, Stephen. But my contention does not rest on whether the director knew Woody from Arlo. Go back and read my first comment. Go look up Occum’s Razor on Wikipedia. Then read the later posts that appear to confirm the correct version of events.

              And should that director, on occasion of his retirement, fess up to his prank, then I’ll be the first one to buy him a beer.

              So what are YOUR music education credentials? Just curious.

  5. The music that Pulaski played in the tournament of roses was picked out long before any of this Walker and union stuff started.

    1. Really?!? It was picked out before January of last year? That’s big planning, and therefore cannot possibly be coincidence! One wonders how those big planners overlooked the fact that Redwing is the same tune as the far more popular Union Maid.

      1. Actually, yes, it does appear that the repertoire was picked out before Walker “dropped the bomb” last February. At least, according to a commenter who says she’s a parent of a band member:

        I’ve come around to the view that this is all a delightful coincidence — and a testament to the value of using popular tunes for protest lyrics. Occupy the Red Wing Polka! 🙂

  6. Omg let the union people believe that it was planned it makes them feel good and empowers them to continue on the entitlement recall trail. The rest of us will stay in reality

    1. Still can’t find a source to back up your “reality,” huh, John? By the way, I’ve never belonged to a union. What’s your excuse for partiality? Because I just blew apart your notion abut my supposed partiality. Numbnuts.

  7. Yes Steve I did but you rejected it, so lets move on you can have your “opinion” and i will have my facts.

    Oh and the numbnuts a real nice classy touch.

    1. John, until you put sources sup for all to see, it’s your opinion. Mine, which you may agree with or not, is founded at least in some sources. You use zero sources. Please understand that you have not presented sources at all for me to reject, at least not at this blog.

      Do you understand the notion of sources? Is there anything here we can help you with?

  8. You know what the real controversy is? It is when the right wingers make it a controversy.

    Here is an idea..let the band directors and band members decide what songs to play and everyone else stay out of it. I know its very hard for the big government republicans who want to control every aspect of someones lives though to mind their own business.

  9. My nephew is in the band. A couple of days before the parade, I asked him what he would be playing. “Redwing”, he said. “Ever hear of it?”

    This is Pulaski. They play this song. It has been in their repertoire for years.

    If they had played “What Child is This”, would you be denouncing them for playing a song about a prostitute (which is “Greensleeves”).

    This isn’t about politics. It is about polka.

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