Guitarist Marc Ribot and legendary singer-songwriter Tom Waits perform Bella Ciao, an Italian folk song adapted and adopted by the anti-fascist resistance and the Italian partisans during the Italian Civil War (1943–45). You can read more about the song here. This song is featured on a new album by Ribot, Songs of Resistance 1942–2018 (video by Jem Cohen, an Afghanistan-born American filmmaker).
Drawn from Ribot’s website, with some edits:
“Every movement which has ever won anything has had songs,” says accomplished New York City guitarist Marc Ribot. For his new political album Songs of Resistance 1942–2018—released September 14 on ANTI-Records—Ribot set out to assemble a set of songs that spoke to this political moment with appropriate ambition, passion, and fury.
The eleven songs on the record include a few original compositions as well as traditional songs that are drawn from World War II anti-Fascist Italian partisans, the U.S. civil rights movement, and Mexican protest ballads.
“There’s a lot of contradiction in doing any kind of political music,” Ribot says, “how to act against something without becoming it, without resembling what you detest. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to do, and I imagine we’ll make mistakes, and hopefully, learn from them. But I knew this from the moment Donald Trump was elected: I’m not going to play downtown-scene Furtwängler to any orange-comb-over dictator wannabe. No way.”
Portions of the album’s proceeds will be donated to The Indivisible Project, an organization that helps individuals resist the Trump agenda via grassroots movements in their local communities.
The music from the album provides an eclectic offering, from acoustic guitar to electric, from folk-like stylings to experimental riffing. A variety of vocal artists provide heart-and-soul depth renditions of both the historical protest songs, made relevant again by that “orange-comb-over dictator wannabe,” and new songs that callout the wannabe dictator by name. Ribot has offered us a gift with which we can motivate and channel our drive to resist, a candidate for sound-track of anti-fascist U.S. partisans in the 21st Century, but also a context and framework to understand that this is not new and that we can win this struggle—as others have won before us in more dire circumstances. We have the advantage that we are resisting now, and not waiting. Let’s hope that it is not too late.
One thought on “Bella Ciao from Songs of Resistance 1942–2018”
Quintessential Tom Waits. Powerful message. I shall take a close look at the album.
As I commented on Naomi Baltuck’s telling piece on ‘TheLittle Match Girl’, this is another historical reminder of the cold and calculating current administrations that govern us. I hate the Little Match Girl story too. The voices of social reform, who were heard even in early Victorian times, were fewer than there are now, probably because, to be heard they had to be literate and educated and therefore of reasonably comfortable means, all of which made them exceptionally humane people. There are more of us now and we have social media, but is it any easier to get our message actioned by governing administrations?! Maybe, but every force ends up with an equal and opposite force (so says Newton’s law).
I guess we have no choice but to keep on keeping on. Let us keep on playing whatever part we can play, for as long as we are able. I would say, being activists, sadly, we have jobs for life!
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