Bread And Roses

Album: Bread And Roses (1976)

Songfacts®:

  • The lyrics are based on a poem called Bread And Roses written by James Oppenheim and published in 1911. The song is based on the old phrase "bread and circuses," meaning feed the people and entertain them, and you can control them. The song sympathizes with the workers, who are asking for equality. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The singer and activist Mimi Fariña was the first to turn Oppenheim's poem into a song. She started an organization called Bread And Roses in 1974, its mission being to bring music to places that are usually not exposed to it, like nursing homes, hospitals and prisons.
  • Along with her other charity and activist work, Judy Collins also performed free for Al Kooper's fund-raising concert (to start Blood Sweat & Tears) at the Cafe Au Go Go in July of 1967 - along with Paul Simon, Eric Anderson, and a host of other talents. As given in Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, "The show went on, and it was incredible seeing Judy Collins, sweat pouring off her (as Howie's air conditioning rudely bit the bag the night she played) appearing in a small club again, showering her rekindled intimacy and perspiration on a loving audience. Everybody in the Village came down to play; there were jams and too many acts to even fit in at each show."

Comments: 1

  • Littlelambielicious from Daventry, UkSuch a beautiful poem. Tear jerking and it gives the overwhelming feeling of solidarity even when hearing or reading it alone. As a Trade Union Organiser i have heard many chants, songs and poems in my time but i never came across this beauty until watching the film "Pride" a few years ago. I am just watching the film again but just had to do a web search for the full lyrics and its history. I grew up in the '70's as Coal Pits and Hospital closures were happening and the subsequent strikes, so feel a kin to this period in history. I miss the labour movement very much having had to leave the Unions' employment for health reasons. But now i am better and can't wait to get stuck in to it again, with this so very touching poem resonating through my soul. "Equality and Justice to all". Xxx
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