Worldly Wednesday: “The Abraham Lincoln Brigade,” John McCutcheon


I’m taking some liberties with this post, Tune-Up fans, but stay with me.  This pretty little song, though American, tells the very cool story of the involvement of about 2,800 Americans who went to Spain in the late 1930s to help the Spanish fight against Francisco Franco.  That group of volunteers was called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.  The story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade is pretty moving.  The Brigade, formed in 1937, was part of a larger group of tens of thousands of volunteers from the international leftist community, and suffered heavy losses during the Spanish Civil War.

And what day is it today?  It is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.  (“Ohhhh.”  See?)

More information about this song (and the album it comes from) is here.  More information about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade can be found here, and here is an interesting and nuanced overview of US involvement in the war.



4 thoughts on “Worldly Wednesday: “The Abraham Lincoln Brigade,” John McCutcheon

  1. clark baxter

    Tremendous. Great choice and wonderful background information. Peter N. Carroll, who is mentioned in your event background link, is a former author of mine. And I took the US survey from him at the dear of U of M. I know!

    Your left-leaning father

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Jeff

    What a find—with terrific posters and photographs that animate the story and make it real. A wonderful moving song of a terrible time. ‘¡ No pasarán!’ “They shall not pass.” “Tell them in Sparta . . . ” The heroism of doomed warriors touches us no matter the age. And this one in particular, a terrible period full of betrayals and lost opportunities (just volunteers from Britain, France, and the U.S.) to protect a people’s independence, a focus clouded by the democratic nations’ fears of the competing ideologies. Were it not that communists were on one side (originally supporting the freedom fighters) and fascists on the other, this war would have a much more prominent place in our historical regrets. And since one of the ideologies was communism, only Hemingway—and perhaps the songs—still remind of the central tragedy.

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