Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Communists, Socialists, And Anarachists Oh My
May 1, 2010 8:59 AM   Subscribe

The Internationale, the anthem of international socialism, has been sung in many different ways. The original French. In Irish - Gaelic. In Russian. Hungarian. Romanian. By Billy Bragg. By Alistair Hulett and Jimmy Gregory. As Disco. As Chinese rock karaoke. As Gypsy guitar.
posted by The Whelk (35 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hat tip to Abiezer for providing the Chinese rock link and getting me going on this.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on May 1, 2010


Disco? That's not Disco. DAMN YOUR EYES SIR, THIS IS DISCO. Though I have to say, a few chords from the Internationale sure does change the meaning and flavor of the tune.
posted by jquinby at 9:15 AM on May 1, 2010


I had NO FUCKING IDEA that Pet Shop Boys song was based on that.

I also didn't know it was a gay anthem when I was dancing to that with my hands over my head at a goth club in the mid 90s.
posted by empath at 9:17 AM on May 1, 2010


You and every grandmother doing the YMCA empath.
posted by The Whelk at 9:18 AM on May 1, 2010


YMCA too? Well, at least I still have the Culture Club.
posted by empath at 9:20 AM on May 1, 2010


That's not the tune I am familiar with....???? I thought THIS was it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:25 AM on May 1, 2010


It's my husband's fault! I just corrected him. Thanks, Mefi! (the USSR national anthem is musically much more interesting, tho.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:28 AM on May 1, 2010


You missed the best rendition ever: in Japanese, by a band named Soul Flower Mononoke Summit.
posted by shii at 9:33 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Loved the gypsy version ...by the way: It is MAY DAY today
for those of you who know the day as Kentucky Derby Day, there are other
meanings of the day too.
posted by Postroad at 9:44 AM on May 1, 2010


It's really a kind of clunky song, isn't it?

This is terrific, thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:05 AM on May 1, 2010


I love the fact that when I viewed this page before logging in, all the Google ads were for sites offering anti-union services, from replacement workers (also known as 'blackleg labour') to conspiracy theories. There is no place left for satire in a world where etc.

[raises clenched left fist]

Happy May Day!
posted by lapsangsouchong at 10:08 AM on May 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I prefer Beasts of England, myself.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:13 AM on May 1, 2010


I like Billy's version of The Red Flag better. Oh, and The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions, all from the same album.

So I have to give this round to the Pet Shop Boys.
posted by maudlin at 10:15 AM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


(previously)
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 AM on May 1, 2010


What a great song! I'm no Marxist-Leninist, but hearing the Internationale makes me want to rush to the nearest barricades. Thanks for the post, and especially for the wonderful Hulett/Gregory version.
posted by languagehat at 10:31 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love the Hulett/Gregory version too! I can't hear that song without wanting to tear down the capitalists superstructure. Though I wish that someone would make a version using the US version's verses and the Commonwealth's version chorus. Here's weirdness for you, the French version is still in copyright. Also, the original lyrics were written to the tune of the Marseillaise. The Marseillaise has a similar To the Ramparts! effect on me.

Oh, and apropos of little, my favorite Billy Bragg song, which I never ever get tired of (and used six lines from as the epitaph of my novel) is Waiting for the Great Leap Forward (which stavrosthewonderchicken turned into a song about MetaFilter).
posted by Kattullus at 10:55 AM on May 1, 2010


Epigraph! Epigraph, dammit!

Though if the epitaph to the novel was something penned by Billy Bragg, I'd die a happy man.

posted by Kattullus at 10:58 AM on May 1, 2010


Ali passed away this year I'm afraid. A fantastic human being and musician and a very committed socialist.

*raised fist*

.
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:02 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just listened to the version from Area's Are(A)zione this morning.
posted by kenko at 11:10 AM on May 1, 2010


Regarding the disco "Internationale" link: "This video contains content from EMI. It is no longer available in your country." Not very internationale, I think.
posted by iviken at 11:11 AM on May 1, 2010


As an anthem for fools to rush off to their deaths to, the Internationale has nothing on La Marseillaise, or for that matter, the Marine Hymn, the Horst Wessel Song, Over There -- or even the Michigan Fight Song.
posted by Faze at 11:58 AM on May 1, 2010


Great, I learned something today! *rather embarrassed to admit I'd never heard of the Internationale... that or it never registered with me*

Originally written to the tune of La Marseillaise, eh — I recently had my French citizenship interview at la préfecture and, what with the recent identité nationale brouhaha, worried that I might be asked to sing it. I can, it's just... being asked to do so for citizenship in a country whose original constitution was the Declaration of Human Rights (it's now the preamble to France's constitution), which, y'know, is why they had that whole bloody revolution, is pretty damned contradictory. I was sorely tempted to respond with "which version? Original or reggae?" if I were asked. But I wasn't, thank goodness.

Gainsbourg's reggae Marseillaise (hope that works in the US).
posted by fraula at 12:20 PM on May 1, 2010


As BtGoG says, Alistair Hulett died earlier this year. If you don't fancy tearing up, don't listen to this now doubly poignant rendition of his incredibly moving He Fades Away about a miner dying of asbestosis.
posted by Abiezer at 1:56 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Holy Pebbles, Abiezer, are you trying to turn me in to a sobbing wreck? Well, it's not like you didn't warn me.

To cheer me back up I watched Gainsbourg face down the nationalists in Strasbourg by singing Le Marseillaise.
posted by Kattullus at 2:35 PM on May 1, 2010


Tuvan Throat-singing Internationale by Huun Huur Tu
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:41 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stephen Sondheim loosely adapted it as the love theme for the movie Reds at the request of Warren Beatty, who initially heard the melody as "I'll Be Home for Christmas." (Sorry, that's the best YouTube had to offer for this song.)
posted by Epenthesis at 3:01 PM on May 1, 2010


Lovely post, thank you (especially for introducing me to Alistair Hulett--he's wonderful). And happy May Day to all!

I am going to a May Day dinner tonight where we'll be singing old union songs (like socialist karaoke, I suppose) and we'll be closing with "The Internationale" (not Billy Bragg's version, unfortunately, which is my favourite). Now that I know "Go West" is based on "The Internationale" I really want to suggest a rousing verse or two of that.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:25 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


How odd we were just talking about this in my soviet literature class on friday.
posted by Allan Gordon at 3:42 PM on May 1, 2010


So I was playing around with Chrome's automatic Google Translate function and it translated the first commenter's name from the chinese rock version link from 沉默的中指 to the silence of the middle finger which sounds amazing. Anyone who knows Chinese... is that an accurate translation? If so, what does it mean?
posted by Kattullus at 7:28 PM on May 1, 2010


Actually, playing around some more with Google Translate, I went to 沉默的中指's userpage, where Google translates his name to silent middle finger, which is a lot clearer. Assuming that the flipped bird has made the cultural journey over to China.
posted by Kattullus at 7:31 PM on May 1, 2010


Oh goddamnit Abiezer now I'm a wreck. Why is it that wonderful people die too young.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:29 AM on May 2, 2010


(the USSR national anthem is musically much more interesting, tho.)

Isn't it? I used to love hearing it as a kid when Soviet athletes won gold medals at the Olympics. Good times.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:12 AM on May 2, 2010


Kattallus - The students of Tiananmen sang The Internationale during their march and sit-ins. Though the rock version by Tang Dynasty - great rock band name!, came after the fact.
posted by typewriter at 9:15 AM on May 2, 2010


What I don't get is that when my wife was growing up in 70's Hungary, May Day was the only day of the year they got Coca-Cola. That sort of blows my mind.

Are the lyrics of the original well represented by the Hungarian version's English subtitles? Because those basically describe my wife's basic personal values. I think she may have been the only person in Hungary who believed in international socialism, and she's lived in the United States since Christmas, 1989.
posted by Michael Roberts at 8:28 PM on May 3, 2010


The Hungarian Version has the lyrics by Billy Bragg as its subtitles.

Also, I can't believe I didn't link to Pete Seeger's version until now (though I did put it on a MeFi mix this one time).
posted by Kattullus at 4:22 AM on May 4, 2010


« Older Legendary entertainer Murray Hill shows off his ti...  |  We've talked... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments