Part of the Union

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"Part of the Union"
Part of the union.jpg
Single by Strawbs
from the album Bursting at the Seams
B-side "Will you Go"
ReleasedJanuary 1973 (1973-01)
Format 7"
Genre Progressive folk, folk rock
Label A&M
Songwriter(s) Richard Hudson, John Ford
Producer(s) Strawbs
Strawbs singles chronology
"Lay Down"
"Part of the Union"
"Shine on Silver Sun"

"Part of the Union" is a song by English band Strawbs, featured on their 1973 album Bursting at the Seams and was the band's most successful single, peaking at number 2 in the UK Singles Chart. It also reached number 10 in the Irish Singles Chart.

Music of the United Kingdom overview of music traditions of the UK

Throughout its history, the United Kingdom has been a major producer and source of musical creation, drawing its artistic basis from the history of the United Kingdom, from church music, Western culture and the ancient and traditional folk music and instrumentation of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Strawbs English rock band

Strawbs are an English rock band founded in 1964. Although the band started out as a bluegrass group they eventually moved on to other styles such as folk rock, progressive rock, and (briefly) glam rock.

<i>Bursting at the Seams</i> 1973 studio album by Strawbs

Bursting at the Seams is the 5th studio album by English band Strawbs. It was the first album to be released after the departure of founder member Tony Hooper and the recruitment of Dave Lambert. It contains their two most successful singles and reached number 2 in the UK Album Chart.



The writing credits are given to Richard Hudson and John Ford, but the song may be an adaptation of the Woody Guthrie/Almanac Singers' 1940 song "Union Maid". The lyrical resemblance is striking although the tune is different.

Richard Hudson is an English singer-songwriter and musician.

John Ford (born 1 July 1948 in Fulham, London, England is an English singer-songwriter and musician. He relocated to the United States in mid 1980s and now resides on the North Shore of Long Island, New York.

Woody Guthrie American singer-songwriter and folk musician

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter, one of the most significant figures in American folk music; his music, including songs, such as "This Land Is Your Land", has inspired several generations both politically and musically. He wrote hundreds of political, folk, and children's songs, along with ballads and improvised works. His album of songs about the Dust Bowl period, Dust Bowl Ballads, is included on Mojo magazine's list of 100 Records That Changed The World. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Hunter, Harry Chapin, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Andy Irvine, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jerry Garcia, Jay Farrar, Bob Weir, Jeff Tweedy, Bob Childers, Sammy Walker, Tom Paxton, AJJ, Brian Fallon, and Sixto Rodríguez have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence. He frequently performed with the slogan "This machine kills fascists" displayed on his guitar.

The song was included on the album Bursting at the Seams but is not considered typical of the songs on that album. Indeed, the track was originally recorded without a contribution by band leader Dave Cousins and was to be released under the name of "The Brothers". It demonstrates the different, more commercial direction the writing partnership of Hudson and Ford was taking within the band.

Dave Cousins singer, songwriter and musician from England

Dave Cousins is an English singer and songwriter, who has been the leader, singer and most-active songwriter of Strawbs since 1967.

Although it was believed that the song was intended to ridicule the powerful British trades unions of the time, the song (especially its chorus "You don't get me I'm part of the Union") quickly became popular as an unofficial anthem of the trades union movement. [1] Subsequently, however, the Strawbs have stated that the song was written with genuine celebratory intent. [2]

The history of trade unions in the United Kingdom covers British trade union organisation, activity, ideas, politics, and impact, from the early 19th century to the present.

The song resurfaced on the UK television advertisement for insurance company Norwich Union in 1998.[ citation needed ]

Insurance equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another in exchange for payment

Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management, primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent or uncertain loss

Norwich Union

Norwich Union was the name of insurance company Aviva's British arm before June 2009. It was originally established in 1797. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

The B-side track "Will You Go" is an arrangement of the Irish folk song "Wild Mountain Thyme" written by Belfast musician Francis McPeake, dating back to the repertoire of The Strawberry Hill Boys (the original name of Strawbs)

A-side and B-side the two sides of 78, 45, and 33 1/3 rpm phonograph records and cassette capes

The terms A-side and B-side refer to the two sides of 78, 45, and 33​13 rpm phonograph records, or cassettes, whether singles, extended plays (EPs), or long-playing (LP) records. The A-side usually featured the recording that the artist, record producer, or the record company intended to receive the initial promotional effort and then receive radio airplay, hopefully, to become a "hit" record. The B-side is a secondary recording that has a history of its own: some artists released B-sides that were considered as strong as the A-side and became hits in their own right. Others took the opposite approach: producer Phil Spector was in the habit of filling B-sides with on-the-spot instrumentals that no one would confuse with the A-side. With this practice, Spector was assured that airplay was focused on the side he wanted to be the hit side.

"Wild Mountain Thyme" is an Irish/Scottish folk song. The lyrics and melody are a variant of the song "The Braes of Balquhither" by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810) and Scottish composer Robert Archibald Smith (1780–1829), but were adapted by Belfast musician Francis McPeake into "Wild Mountain Thyme" and first recorded by his family in the 1950s.

Top of the Pops

In the band's appearance on BBC's Top of the Pops , keyboardist Blue Weaver appeared with both piano and pedal harmonium and drummer Richard Hudson appeared with a marching bass drum emblazoned with the words "The Associated Union of Strawbs Workers".

Other recordings

The original "Brothers" recording can be found on the box set A Taste of Strawbs . Cockerel Chorus (of "Nice One Cyril" fame) also recorded the song for inclusion on their 1973 Party Sing-a-long album. [3]

Recorded by The Hindle Strikers with T.B.E. in 1984 on the Catch 22 label (CTT001A) - originally they recorded it on cassette unaware that DJs required it on vinyl to play it on the radio. [4]

From 2007 to 2016 the song has been included as a standard part of the Strawbs' live set[ citation needed ] and was included in their live DVD The Strawbs - Lay Down With The Strawbs, filmed and recorded live at The Robin 2 in Bilston, UK on 5 March 2006. [5]


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  1. Frith, Simon. Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 165. ISBN   9780674661967.
  2. "Part of the Union - We All Stand Together, The People's Songs - BBC Radio 2". BBC. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  3. "Cockerel Chorus - Party Sing-A-Long". Discogs. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  4. "The Hindle Strikers With T.B.E. Discography - UK - 45cat". Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  5. "The Strawbs - Lay Down With The Strawbs - DVD". Secret Records. Retrieved 19 June 2017.