Part of the Union
|"Part of the Union"|
|Single by Strawbs|
|from the album Bursting at the Seams|
|B-side||"Will you Go"|
|Genre||Progressive folk, folk rock|
|Writer(s)||Richard Hudson, John Ford|
|Strawbs singles chronology|
"Part of the Union" is a song by English band Strawbs featured on their 1973 album Bursting at the Seams and was the band's most successful single, peaking at number 2 in the UK Singles Chart. The writing credits are given to Richard Hudson and John Ford, but the song may be an adaptation of the Woody Guthrie/Almanac Singers' song "Union Maid". The lyrical resemblance is striking although it is set to different music.
The song was included on the album Bursting at the Seams but is not considered typical of the songs on that album. Indeed, the track was originally recorded without a contribution by band leader Dave Cousins and was to be released under the name of "The Brothers". It demonstrates the different, more commercial direction the writing partnership of Hudson and Ford was taking within the band.
The song is widely considered to be a proud folk anthem for the working man, and was unofficially adopted by the trade union movement. Some see the lyrics as satirically anti-trade union, though reportedly “the band has frequently stated that that’s not the case at all” while Cousins did not deny the satire in an 2010 interview.
The song resurfaced on the UK television advertisement for insurance company Norwich Union in 1998. The song is also currently[when?] being played in the stadium at the conclusion of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union games.
The B-side track "Will You Go" is an arrangement of the Irish folk song "Wild Mountain Thyme" written by Belfast musician Francis McPeake, dating back to the repertoire of The Strawberry Hill Boys (the original name of Strawbs)
Top of the Pops
In their appearance on BBC's Top of the Pops, keyboardist Blue Weaver appeared with both piano and pedal hamonium and drummer Richard Hudson appeared with a marching bass drum emblazoned with the words "The Associated Union of Strawbs Workers".
The original "Brothers" recording can be found on the box set A Taste of Strawbs. Cockerel Chorus (of "Nice One Cyril" fame) also recorded the song for inclusion on their Party Sing-a-long album.
Recorded by The Hindle Strikers with T.B.E. in 1984 (CTT001A) - originally they recorded it on cassette unaware that DJs required it on vinyl to play it on the radio.
- Dave Cousins – backing vocals, acoustic guitar
- Dave Lambert – backing vocals, electric guitar
- John Ford – lead vocals, bass guitar
- Richard Hudson – backing vocals, drums
- Blue Weaver – piano
- "Part of the Union" at Strawbsweb
- Covers of "Part of the Union"
- "Union Maid" song by the "Almanac Singers" at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
- When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies by Andy Beckett Faber & Faber 2009
- "BBC Radio 2 - The People's Songs, Part of the Union - We All Stand Together". BBC.
- "SHOULD you hear a Strawbs song on your radio, it could turn out to be their 1970s single Lay Down, which reached No 12 in the UK charts but it's more likely to be their other 70s hit Part of the Union, which charted at No 2. - Derby Telegraph". Derby Telegraph.
- Lyrics to "Part of the Union" at Strawbsweb official site
- Lyrics to "Will You Go" at Strawbsweb official site