A famous anthem of communism, sung by formerly-oppressed multitudes and also by Billy Bragg. The original French lyrics were written by Eugene Pottier, and the music is by Pierre Degeyter.

Traditional English translation:

Arise ye workers from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We'll change henceforth the old tradition
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

    CHORUS:
    So comrades, come rally
    And the last fight let us face
    The Internationale unites the human race.
    So comrades, come rally
    And the last fight let us face
    The Internationale unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction
On tyrants only we'll make war
The soldiers too will take strike action
They'll break ranks and fight no more
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride
They soon shall hear the bullets flying
We'll shoot the generals on our own side.

No savior from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver
Chains of hatred, greed and fear
E'er the thieves will out with their booty
And give to all a happier lot.
Each at the forge must do their duty
And we'll strike while the iron is hot.

New Billy Bragg translation:

Stand up, all victims of oppression, for the tyrants fear your might.
Don't cling so hard to your possessions for you have nothing if you have no rights.
Let racist ignorance be ended, for respect makes the empires fall.
Freedom is merely privilege extended unless enjoyed by one and all.

    CHORUS:
    So come brothers and sisters for the struggle carries on.
    The Internationale unites the world in song.
    So comrades come rally for this is the time and place:
    The international ideal unites the human race.

Let no one build a wall to divide us, walls of hatred nor walls of stone.
Come greet the dawn together or we'll die alone.
In our world poisoned by exploitation those who have taken, they now must give
And end the vanity of nations: we've but one Earth on which to live.

So begins the final drama, in the streets and in the fields:
We stand unbowed before their armour, we defy their guns and shield.
When we fight, provoked by their aggression, let us be inspired by life and love;
For though they offer us concessions, change will not come from above.

Original French lyrics:

Debout les damnés de la terre
Debout les forçats de la faim
La raison tonne en son cratère
C'est l'éruption de la fin
Du passe faisons table rase
Foules, esclaves, debout, debout
Le monde va changer de base
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout

CHORUS:
C'est la lutte finale
Groupons-nous, et demain (bis)
L'Internationale
Sera le genre humain

Il n'est pas de sauveurs suprêmes
Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun
Producteurs, sauvons-nous nous-mêmes
Décrétons le salut commun
Pour que le voleur rende gorge
Pour tirer l'esprit du cachot
Soufflons nous-mêmes notre forge
Battons le fer quand il est chaud

L'état comprime et la loi triche
L'impôt saigne le malheureux
Nul devoir ne s'impose au riche
Le droit du pauvre est un mot creux
C'est assez, languir en tutelle
L'égalité veut d'autres lois
Pas de droits sans devoirs dit-elle
Egaux, pas de devoirs sans droits

Hideux dans leur apothéose
Les rois de la mine et du rail
Ont-ils jamais fait autre chose
Que dévaliser le travail
Dans les coffres-forts de la bande
Ce qu'il a crée s'est fondu
En décrétant qu'on le lui rende
Le peuple ne veut que son dû.

Les rois nous saoulaient de fumées
Paix entre nous, guerre aux tyrans
Appliquons la grève aux armées
Crosse en l'air, et rompons les rangs
S'ils s'obstinent, ces cannibales
A faire de nous des héros
Ils sauront bientôt que nos balles
Sont pour nos propres généraux

Ouvriers, paysans, nous sommes
Le grand parti des travailleurs
La terre n'appartient qu'aux hommes
L'oisif ira loger ailleurs
Combien, de nos chairs se repaissent
Mais si les corbeaux, les vautours
Un de ces matins disparaissent
Le soleil brillera toujours.

In 1990 Billy Bragg released an album unlike his others, "The Internationale". The album, released by a collaboration between Elektra and Utility record labels, is a collection of political songs from down the ages. It was produced by Grant Showbiz and Billy's childhood friend Wiggy. The recording took place in Kingston, Streatham and Edinburgh.

The album is relatively short, with only seven tracks:


1.The Internationale

2.I dreamed I saw Phil Ochs Last Night

3.The Marching song of the covert battalions

4.Blake's Jerusalem

5.Nicaragua Nicaraguita

6.The Red Flag

7.My Youngest Son Came Home Today

Billy Bragg is well known for his left-wing political views, and nowhere are they more clearly stated than on this album. Usually, he gives some album space to love songs (eg Greetings to the new brunette), but not on this album. Each song has been chosen for a reason.

THE INTERNATIONALE was originally written in 1871 by Eugene Pottier after the fall of the Paris Commune. In 1888, Pierre Degeyter composed the music. It has been a symbol of solidarity ever since, and was even sung by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square during the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989. It is clear that Bragg also felt the significance of the rousing song. It was Pete Seeger who suggested to Billy that writing a new English translation of the French original would be a good idea, and the result is a breathtaking opening track which sets the pace of the rest of the album.

I DREAMED I SAW PHIL OCHS LAST NIGHT sees Bragg paying tribute to one of his heroes. Ochs, unlike his contemporary Bob Dylan "stayed true to the political tradition of Woody Guthrie" (Billy Bragg).The fact that the Bard of Barking sings this one a-capella means that the heavy sound of the previous song is lifted.

THE MARCHING SONG OF THE COVERT BATTALIONS is Bragg at his finest. He shows that his wit is as quick, and his turn of phrase as sharp, as any of the great writers he covers on The Internationale album.

BLAKE'S JERUSALEM may at first seem to sit uneasily in an album of left-wing anthems, but when we examine the lyrics, we can see where Bragg is coming from when he says "William Blake was a radical and a visionary".

NICARAGUA NICARAGUITA sees the Braggster singing in Spanish, and not doing as bad a job of it as you might expect! At the time of recording, Billy was deeply concerned by the problems Nicaragua was facing, and he recorded this tender song to show his solidarity with the people of that country.

THE RED FLAG is a classic. Interestingly, Billy chooses not to sing the usual version to the tune of "O Tannenbaum". Instead, he sings the old Jacobite air "The White Cockade". This album would not be complete without this essential.

MY YOUNGEST SON CAME HOME TODAY provides the mournful ending to the collection. It is also the most recent. Billy has said of the war in Northern Ireland that it is "the war we send our soldiers to fight in and then wonder why our cities get bombed".

Of course, this collection will not be to everyone's taste. However, Bragg's voice seems more mellow than usual, and the beauty of most of the songs cannot be denied. This album is an essential for any fan of Billy's music and any self-respecting political activist.

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