There’s a song that is partially quoted in The Skill of Our Hands, the most recent book by Skyler White and me. It’s to the same tune as the haunting Irish ballad, “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye” (my favorite version is by Odetta), and its US Civil War update, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”
The version quoted in the book was one of songs we’d sing in the car when I was a kid, along with “Solidarity Forever,” and, “Avant di Popolo” and “Hold the Fort” and so on. When using the song in the book, I changed the word “Fools” to “Fooled” in the tag line because the former strikes me as slightly offensive. So, with that change, here are the full lyrics as I learned them, in case anyone is interested.
The battle is on that none can shirk
In field and street.
The lines are drawn twixt those who work
And those who eat.
We are the many, they are the few
But we’ve always done what they told us to
Now the time has come when we’ll not be fooled anymore.
How do they hold the upper hand?
The answer runs.
They’ve got the gold, they’ve got the land
They’ve got the guns.
Divide and conquer has been the trick
With the gift of gab and the hired dick
But the time has come when we’ll not be fooled anymore.
Mighty the engine, vast the field
From coast to coast.
The skill of our hands, the wealth they yield
Is all Earth’s boast.
For ours are the hands on those machines.
Just think for a minute of what that means.
And the time has come when we’ll not be fooled anymore.
The time has come when we’ll not be fooled anymore.