‘River of Lies’ By Fred Stanton
Even in the heat of summer, down here it’s always 60 degrees. They send us to work in raincoats, rubber boots up to our knees. The walls are wet, and the bosses bet There’s riches on the other side. We are buried in a graveyard of greed, Drownin’ in a river of lies.
Maybe the miners were careless, maybe the maps were wrong. Maybe God had a really bad day, so goes the company song. The government calls it an accident, But for us it is no surprise. We are buried in a graveyard of greed, Drownin’ in a river of lies.
The top side of this mountain used to be a union mine. Now a company that is union free is comin’ in from behind, Drillin’ fast and straight beneath an underground lake, Racin’ toward that bottom line. We are buried in a graveyard of greed, Drownin’ in a river of lies.
We tie ourselves together, singing while the headlamps go dim. A little Elvis, a union song, a long-forgotten hymn. One man goes slack, the others pull him back, Holding on while the waters rise. We are buried in a graveyard of greed, Drownin’ in a river of lies.
The rescue team doesn’t follow a prayer, they just follow the map. Homing in on where we must have been, listening for our taps.
The governor calls us heroes, the President slaps my back. Cheap coal from Pennsylvania, cheaper oil from Iraq. We’re not media stars, we’re the grunts in their wars, Hard-workin’ regular guys. We are buried in a graveyard of greed,
Drownin’ in a river of lies.
Fred Stanton’s songs (along with his lumberjack voice and jumbo 12-string guitar) embody the political folk-singing tradition. Fred has been an industrial worker (a welder of oilfield equipment an electronic assembler and a railroad electrician, hostler and brakeperson) as well as a political organizer and union activist. This life is at the heart of his songs – moving, personal ballads, rollicking satires, and working-class anthems. Fred has been singing in concerts, union rallies and political protests since the 1960s. His union songs celebrate the struggles of strikers at Peabody Coal, poultry processing workers in North Carolina, and strawberry pickers in California. And his “Singing Cars,” a Bronx salute to car alarms, has been featured on NPR’s “Car Talk” show. Newest songs include: “Elián,” “Dry Spell” (farmers in the drought of ’99), “Sweatshops of Manhattan” (a response to the Seattle protests), and “How Love Begins.” You can hear “River of Lies” and other songs on the web (or download it) at www.mp3.com/fredstanton.