Berkeley Diary

YAMAOKA Masaki


Nov/30/2005@Deportees


American music

Even in the USA, my favorite music, which I always listen to in my apartment, is Latin-American music, especially, Mexican and Cuban songs. I think that to like the music of the area is to like the place. Then, to be fond of American music, I have attended a Jazz concert a few times. I think that. Jazz has many attractive aspects, e.g. the players' marvelous technique, various sounds, that is, sometimes powerful and sometimes melodious.  However, basically, my preference is not Jazz, so I do not desire to purchase bcs.

@  In addition to Jazz, we can list Gospel, religious songs,  Country music, western indigenous songs, and many types of American music. I think there are many wonderful musical treasures which I have not yet encountered.

@  After I came to the USA, I encountered one excellent song. I have listened to the song many times even now. It was the song of the well-known folk singer, Woody Gathrie, who passed away around forty years ago, so it was gDeportees.h

The bc which Bob loaned me

@  U.C.Berkeley has volunteers who support English to foreign students and visiting scholars like me. To meet my request, they introduced me Mr. Robert Wasser, 85-year-old gentleman. He is a retired lecturer from the department of social welfare, U.C.Berkeley, and after he retired, he volunteered as a social contribution. I visit his home about once a week, and then we are chatting in English, at times I ask him, ghow do you say, when such a caseEEEE?h, and sometimes I request the native check of my thesis which I should submit to Dr. Searle. One day I asked him to introduce his favorite American music, and he loaned me a CD, which has the best selection of Woody Gathrie's popular songs.

@  In the CD, Woody does not sing, but the contemporary singers sing Woody's popular pieces. Some songs a man sings alone, some songs a group including men and women sing together. I am not interested in whom the singers are, but I listened to the music. And then, I found the most beautiful and attractive melody, and I cannot forget it. The song was gDeporteesh.

@  At the beginning, I could not understand the words of this song. I listened and listened to it many times and try to dictate it, and I asked Bob to correct it. I understood the meaning of the words clearly little by little. In addition, Bob explained me a historical fact
concerning this song.

The orchard workers of Mexican immigration

@  For long period, one of the main industries in California had been the fruit culture. In those days, many Mexican people had come to California to seek jobs, and the owners of the orchards liked to employ them because of low wages. Though, it was severe labor nevertheless the wages was cheep. Besides, after the heavy labor the owners often sent them back to Mexico. If there is at least one person who was illegal in terms of an immigration visa, they claimed the all persons were responsible for it, and then they deported them.

    And the tragedy was happened on January 1st. 1948. The chartered airplane for the deportation of the Mexican people took-off from the Oakland airport. But in the sky at Los Gatos Canyon, the airplane for unknown reason, suddenly crashed and burned, killing all the crew and the passengers. In the radio broadcast, Associated Press told of the tragedy, giving the names of the crew, that is, pilot, co-pilot, stewardess, and immigration guard as a victims, however, they did not give the names of the 28 Mexican deportees. They summed up and said just gthe deportees who entered the United States illegally.h

    Woody Gathrie was a typical popular American singer and composer in those days, so he had always sung the American heart. However he got angry at this tragedy, and he empathized with the Mexican immigrants, and he sang their feelings from their viewpoint.

To hear the voices of the dead

@  In the end of the severe labor, they were rolled their wages up and deported. I empathize with how frustrated they are. They took their names away, and made them ride the airplane just as gdeportees,h@then became trivial beings, and fell into the canyon like dry leaves. Nevertheless they came to America, believing in Jesus and happy life, could he protect them? On the contrary, even Jesus would also have his name taken away, and made ride the airplane. They ignored our dignity entirelyEEE. Woody expressed the voiceless anger and frustration of the dead who cannot say anything.

@  Although the words depict misery, how beautiful the melody is. It is so clearly, flowing slowly like a bright blue sky, without any hesitation. In the bc which I borrowed, a young woman singer starts to sing alone. Her voice has a kind of power with intense, unshaken mind.

@  The chorus refrain part is the most impressive and repeated many times. It includes a short Spanish phrase, gAdios mis amigos, Jesus y Mariah (Good-bye my friends, Jesus and Maria).  I was moved by the sincere appeal to the God, Jesus and the Holy Mother, Maria.  And men singers pile their voices up, increasing their power. At the climax of this song, they shout the tragedy of the crash. After that, this song finished calmly.

Gazing at the negative factor of America

 @ This song gDeporteesh alludes to the negative factor of America severely, that is, mammonism, conceitedness, discrimination, which remained in American people's mind. A few months ago, when I talked my Japanese friend, Andrew who has lived here for over 20 years, I told him about this song, and then he was disappointed. I was so sorry that I forgot he loves America so much. America has many merits and virtues. I do not have any qualification to criticize America, because I have lived here for only a half year. However, since I visited Mexico three times before I came to USA at first, so I sympathized to Mexican people. Besides I have one more reason. I always empathized with the side of the poor and low class people. I am proud of it rather than ashamed.
  
@  Woody Gathrie is one of the representative American artists. I guess that since he loved America, he could not ignore the negative factor. I think he might compose this song because of redemption.

     Today era has changed, such discrimination has reduced. To sweep the residue of the discrimination away is the mission of youth. Anyway, we would like to listen to the beauty of this song calmly, and commit ourselves to the purity of it.


@@@@Deportees

 

            The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,   

            The oranges piled in their creosote dumps, 

            You're flying 'em back to the Mexican border

            To pay all their money to wade back again

 
            Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,

            Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;

            You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,

            All they will call you will be "deportees" 


            My father's own father, he waded that river,

            They took all the money he made in his life;   

            My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,

            And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

 

            Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,

            Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;

            You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane, 

            All they will call you will be "deportees"

            Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,

            Our work contract's out and we have to move on;

            Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,

            They chase us like outlaws, like rubbers, like thieves.


            Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,

            Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;

            You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane, 

            All they will call you will be "deportees" 


            We died in your hills, we died in your deserts, 

            We died in your valleys and died on your plains.

            We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,

            Both sides of the river, we died just the same.


         Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,

            Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;

            You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane, 

            All they will call you will be "deportees" 


            The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,

            A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,

            Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?

            The radio says, "They are just deportees"

 

            Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?

            Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?

            To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil    

            And be called by no name except "deportees"?


         Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,

            Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;

            You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane, 

            All they will call you will be "deportees" 



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