Facing the Chair

I came to this land in 1908
and I thought it the land of the free,
but I very soon saw the rich had one law
and another for people like me.

Well, times were depressed and the money was hard
and I peddled my fish by the sea,
where the pilgrims of old fleeing from persecution
landed and thought themselves free.

Ch.: Goodbye to you, my brave comrades,
goodbye to you, Suosso’s Lane,
goodbye to North Plymouth,
goodbye Boston Harbour,
I’ll never see you again.

The department of justice was (rambling up) reds
and one day on the sidewalk below
Salsedo was found lying crushed on the ground
and they said he fell out of a high storey window.
And two payroll guards were shot down and killed
at the height of this anti-Red scare
and the (powers that be?) arrested Sacco and me
and now we are facing the chair.

Well, our jury, God help us, what chance did they have,
when the cruel judge called us low breed.
He was heard to declare: “They should get the chair,
they’re Reds and what more do you need?”
And for 7 long years we languished in jail,
while appeals for a retrial were made,
and the Madeiros’ confession it made no impression
on judge Webster Thayer’s crusade.
No Well, a dog, that kills chicken you wouldn’t convict
on the evidence, judge, that you’ve heard,
but you showed no concern while these two witches burn(ed)
for preaching the dangerous word.
And your governments, judge, differ only in (mean)
to victimise, trick, and repress.
And a change of error, and a change of evil
is taken by many as progress.

If these things hadn’t happened we might have lived out our lives
conversing with scornful men,
we might have died alone, unmarked, unknown,
failures again and again.
But our death and our pain will not be in vain,
and your crimes they will never be (blurred).
Oh, what makes you think as you stand on the brink
that you’ll always be ruling this world.

Written by Andy Irvine

“Facing the Chair”, Andy’s composition about Sacco and Vanzetti.



  1. A few corrections:

    Verse 2: “The Department of Justice was rounding up Reds” – also “powers that be” is correct.
    Verse 4: Delete the word “No” before “Well a dog that kills chickens” – also “But you’d show no concern while these two witches burn” and also “differ only in mien”
    Verse 5: “We might have died alone, unremarked, unknown”. Also “blurred” is correct.


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