Posts Tagged ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’

Andries Bezuidenhout. Reise van Tom Joad

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Dis vreemd hoe ʼn fiktiewe karakter uit ʼn boek, deur ʼn fliek, tot in ʼn aantal lirieke sy verskyning kan maak. Neem nou maar die geval van Tom Joad, die antiheld uit John Steinbeck se boek Grapes of Wrath, wat in 1939 gepubliseer is. Dit gaan oor persoonlike skades en storms, maar ook oor armoede en sosiale ongeregtigheid. Tom Joad en sy familie is van Oklahoma en reis met die Route 66 Kalifornië toe op soek na werk. Die storie illustreer hoe Kaliforniese boere hul trekarbeiders in armoede gehou het, sodat hulle van goedkoop arbeid verseker is.

Die boek was destyds nogal kontroversieel en is deur lede van die Amerikaanse establishment as kommunistiese propaganda afgemaak. Alhoewel Steinbeck deur die FBI dopgehou is en die boek op verkeie plekke verban en verbrand is, is Grapes of Wrath darem met die Pulitzerprys bekroon, en dit het later ʼn belangrike rol gespeel het in die toekenning aan van die Nobelprys vir Letterkunde aan hom.

Onmiddellik na die boek se publikasie, is daar aan ʼn filmweergawe begin werk. Reeds in Januarie 1940 kon gehore dit sien, met Henry Fonda in die rol van Tom Joad. Woody Guthrie is só deur die film aangegryp dat hy dadelik daarna sy “The Ballad of Tom Joad” geskryf het. Die lied is opgeneem en op die plaat Dust Bowl Ballads in Julie 1940 vrygestel.

Hier is een van die weergawes van die Guthrie-liriek wat ek kon opspoor:

The Ballad of Tom Joad
(Woody Guthrie)

Tom Joad got out of the old McAlester Pen
There he got his parole
After four long years on a man killing charge
Tom Joad come a walking down the road, poor boy
Tom Joad come a walking down the road

Tom Joad he met a truck driving man
There he caught him a ride
He said: “I just got loose from McAlester’s Pen
On a charge called Homicide, a charge called Homicide.”

That truck rolled away in a cloud of dust,
Tommy turned his face toward home,
He met Preacher Casey and they had a little drink,
But they found that his family they was gone,
He found that his family they was gone.
He found his mother’s old fashion shoe
Found his daddy’s hat.
And he found little Muley and Muley said:
“They’ve been tractored out by the cats,
They’ve been tractored out by the cats.”

Tom Joad walked down to the neighbours farm
Found his family.
They took Preacher Casey and loaded in a car
And his mother said “We got to get away.”
His mother said “We got to get away”

Now the twelve of the Joads made a mighty heavy load
But Grandpa Joad did cry.
He picked up a handful of land in his hand
Said: “I’m stayin’ with the farm till I die.
Yes, I’m stayin’ with my farm till I die”

They fed him short ribs and coffee and soothing syrup
And Grandpa Joad did die.
They buried Grandpa Joad by the side of the road,
Buried Grandma on the California side,
They buried Grandma on the California side.

They stood on a Mountain and they looked to the West
And it looked like the promised land.
That bright green valley with a river running through,
There was work for every single hand, they thought,
There was work for every single hand.
The Joads rolled away to Jungle Camp, There they cooked a stew.
And the hungry little kids of the Jungle Camp Said:
“We’d like to have some too.” Said: “We’d like to have some too.”

Now a Deputy Sheriff fired loose at a man
Shot a woman in the back.
Before he could take his aim again
Preacher Casey dropped him in his track.
Preacher Casey dropped him in his track.
They handcuffed Casey and they took him to Jail
And then he got away.
And he met Tom Joad on the old river bridge,
And these few words he did say, poor boy,
These few words he did say.

“I preached for the Lord a mighty long time
Preached about the rich and the poor.
Us workin’ folks got to all get together,
Cause we ain’t got a chance anymore.
We ain’t got a chance anymore.”

The Deputies come and Tom and Casey run
To the bridge where the water run down.
But the vigilante they hit Casey with a club,
They laid Preacher Casey on the ground.
They laid Preacher Casey on the ground.

Tom Joad he grabbed that Deputy’s club
Hit him over the head.
Tom Joad took flight in the dark rainy night
A Deputy and a Preacher lying dead, two men,
A Deputy and a Preacher lying dead.

Tom run back where his mother was asleep
He woke her up out of bed.
Then he kissed goodbye to the mother that he loved
Said what Preacher Casey said, Tom Joad,
He said what Preacher Casey said.

“Ever’body might be just one big soul
Well it looks that a way to me.
Everywhere that you look in the day or night
That’s where I’m gonna be, Ma,
That’s where I’m gonna be.”

Wherever little children are hungry and cry
Wherever people ain’t free.
Wherever men are fightin’ for their rights
That’s where I’m gonna be, Ma.
That’s where I’m a gonna be.

Ek vind dit nogal interessant hoe vinnig ʼn karakter reeds toe deur Amerikaanse populêre kultuur kon reis. Van die publikasie van die boek in April 1939, ʼn fliek in Januarie 1940 en ʼn plaat in Julie 1940.

Die 1930s was natuurlik die tyd na die Groot Depressie, wat eers werklik aangespreek is deur ʼn kombinasie van Roosevelt se New Deal en die klaskompromie wat tussen werkers en kapitaliste na die Tweede Wêreldoorlog aangegaan is. Vir ʼn tyd lank het Tom Joad ʼn historiese karakter geword.

Daardie kompromie tussen werkers en hul base, en die Noordelike welsynstaat, is natuurlik deur mense soos Ronald Reagan en Margaret Thatcher ongedaan gemaak. ʼn Nuwe era – die nuwe wêreldorde van globalisering – het aangebreek. Dis nie vreemd dat Tom Joad juis tóé weer uit die vergetelheid opgestaan het nie en weer op die verhoog van populêre kultuur ʼn rol kom speel het.

In 1995 maak Bruce Springsteen ʼn plaat met die titel The Ghost of Tom Joad. Sy liriek tree direk met Guthrie in gesprek. Springsteen is lank reeds die stem van die Amerikaanse werkersklas en reeds in Ronald Reagan se tyd klink sy protes helder (al het Reagan self sy “Born in the USA” verkeerdelik vir ʼn patriotiese lied aangesien).

Tom Joad se spook kom in die 1990s aan en Springsteen se liriek roep hom op om Steinbeck se boek se boodskap vir kontemporêre tye aan te pas. Die liriek gaan só:

Ghost of Tom Joad
(Bruce Springsteen)

Men walkin’ ‘long the railroad tracks
Goin’ someplace there’s no goin’ back
Highway patrol choppers comin’ up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin’ in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin’ for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box ‘neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin’ in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
But where it’s headed everybody knows
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Waitin’ on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ downhere in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

Gaan luister gerus hoe klink die lied. ʼn Mens kan dit op Youtube kry. Die amptelike video daarvan bevat pragtige fotografie uit middel-Amerika (ek het twee voorbeelde uit die video hier bo tussen die teks geplak). Daar is ook ʼn baie mooi lewendige opname daarvan in ʼn ateljee. Aan die einde van 1998 het Rage Against the Machine dit ook opgeneem, wat verdere gewildheid aan die karakter verleen het. Gaan kyk gerus na ʼn lewendige opname daarvan. Bruce Springsteen en Tom Morello van Rage Against the Machine het die lied in ʼn stadium (in ʼn stadion) saam aangepak en die resultaat is aangrypend.

Springsteen was baie aktief in die pogings om Barack Obama as president verkies te kry. Sy mees onlangse album is liries en musikaal veel vroliker as The Ghost of Tom Joad en Magic, wat oor George Bush se kulkunsiepolitiek gegaan het. Maar dis ʼn onderwerp vir ʼn ander keer.