Music Dedicated to Sacco and Vanzetti

Lacrime e' Cundannate

(Rizzi e Bascetta, 1927)

Sta tutt'o munno sano arrevutato,
pe' Sacco e p'e Vanzetti cundannate.
E chì vigliaccamente la 'nfamate,
maie n'ora 'e pace nun addà truvà!
A tutte parte arrivano pruteste 'nquantità
Facenno appello, cercano e farle aggrazià!

Doppo sett'anne e pene carcerate,
tra vita e morte, chisti sventurate.
Mo c"a cundanna l'hanno cunfermata:
nun c'è sta mezze pe putè salvà!
Sulo 'o Guvernatore giustizia le po fa,
si Dio c'ho mette 'ncore, a grazia le farrà.

So state senza core tutt'e quante,
pure e giurate, ma che 'nfame e ggente!
Nun sentene e raggione e chì è 'nnuccente:
chesta nun è giustizia, è 'nfamità!
Sti sfurtunate chiagneno, so rassignate già
E dint'a celle aspettanno ca Dio l'addà salvà!

Translation and commentary by Robert D'Attilio

The whole world is turned upside down
for Sacco and for Vanzetti both found guilty,
And those villains who scorned them
should never find a minute's rest!
Protesters, and more protesters, come from everywhere,
they cry out and try to get them pardoned!

After seven years in jail,
between life and death, these two desperate men
Learn, just now, their fatal sentence has been confirmed.
There is no way that we can save them!
The governor is the only hope for justice;
only God can change his heart and let him grant them mercy.

Everyone has been so cold-hearted
even the jury -what a cruel company!
No they don't listen to reason or to innocence
No this is not justice, this is only wicked vileness!
These cursed prisoners, without hope, can only cry out
and wait in their cells for the grace of God.

Alfredo Bascetta was a Neopolitan tenor who had immigrated to New York City shortly after the turn of the 20th century. This is a song written by him in Neapolitan dialect, evidently shortly before the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti.

It never mentions the political beliefs, the anarchism of the two men but it expresses strongly the sense of injustice felt by greater part of the Italian community at the long and, in their eyes, barbarous treatment of Sacco and Vanzetti.

The powerful anguish felt in the music is one of the more moving examples of the emotion evoked by the trial and sentencing to death of the two men. One can read in its words that God will not move governors to do the right thing, nor will God help to cure social injustice created by man.

- Sacco and Vanzetti Funeral Song -- Jake and the Infernal Machine. Boston, Mass. U.S.A, 2007. (6 meg. wma format). Contact: http://www.myspace.com/jakeandtheinfernalmachine

Funeral Song

Oh, fair city what tragedy has beset you?
what crime too profound for just one song?
if two people were the victims of your example
we all learned your lesson, we all know your wrong.

Our two workers were good workers like us all
our two immigrants came from over the sea
but our two rebels had the strength to face down fire
and fight fear itself so that we might be free

80 years is too long
80 years is too long
but we'll keep singing this funeral song
'til the bells ring in revolution

The politicians still lie in city hall
and the priest still raises cries of 'fair heaven'
but the saddest truth of all, which will be true still this fall
nothing's really changed since 27

They were charged with a crime they didn't commit
but murdered for the greatest crime of them all
the ideas that they held, which got them thrown down to hell
they're the ideas by which empires will fall

80 years is too long
80 years is too long
but we'll keep singing this funeral song
'til the bells ring in revolution

Oh, remember old Nicola Sacco
and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Oh, remember old Nicola Sacco
and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
If you pray for your freedom you'll get none
for to pray is just a waste of your words
if you raise your voice and if you raise your fist
you could end up like them, ashes in the earth
so we must kill the state before it kills us
so we must kill the state before it kills us
so we must kill the state before it kills us
so we must kill the state before it kills us

- A Morte e Sacco e Vanzetti (mp3) - The Death of Sacco and Vanzetti. Sung by C. Milano
- I martiri d'un ideale (mp3) - The martyrs of an ideal Sung by F. De Renzis

- Protesta per Sacco e Vanzetti - spoken word

Written by Frank Amodio, and performed by Compagnia Columbia.


A: Hey, what’s this crowd doing here?
B: How can you not know? It’s an assembly for Sacco and Vanzetti.
A: Oh, those poor guys who have been condemned to death?
B: Yeah. But now we’re trying to save them.
A: But those two, people told me; I know they’re guilty of murder!
B: And you believe it! They say they didn’t even steal anything.
A: Not even the robbery?
C: Come on; enough! Stop saying dumb stuff. Those two poor guys haven’t done anything wrong.
A: Oh, well. What do I know, for heaven’s sake? They told me what they’re accused of and I am just repeating it.
D: Well, then why are they condemned to die?
C: Oh, my friend. Who knows how many innocent men have been condemned like them?!
A: Poor fellows!
B: But, I mean, is there nothing one can do to save them?
C: It’s for them that there are all these demonstrations and protests.
A: Listen, it’s really a sin to send fathers with families to death for no reason!
B: Oh, sure!
A: Oh, we must hope for the grace of the Madonna.
C: Forget the Madonna! We must be the ones to fight and save them. Even more because they are Italians like us.

B: Oh, come on. It has nothing to do with who is Italian or American; when someone is innocent we should help them always.
A: You’re right!
B: Hey, shut up! Shut up! They’re starting to talk.
A: Quiet!
E: Friends, you already know what has brought us together here, and I am happy to see in this solemn moment a crowd made up not just of Italians but of people of all nationalities: Italians, Americans, Jews, English, Japonese. At this fatal hour we have come together to form a single race: the human race! With no differences based on age, on class, or on party.
VOICE: Bravo!
E: And we are here to support a holy cause, to save to of our brothers who because of a judicial error are condemned to die in the electric chair. We must protest energetically against this unjust condemnation. Yes, unjust! Because we all know that at the moment of the tragedy the two poor condemned men were far from the scene of the crime. I remember now the last question that the judge asked the two men: “Don’t you have anything to say after having been sentenced to the electric chair?” And the answer was, “Yes, we must say that we are innocent!” And they are innocent! And now, gentlemen, raise your voices in protest. If Sacco and Vanzetti go to their deaths, what will the law be committing?
Crowd: An injustice!
E: And what are the condemned men?
Crowd: They are innocent?
E: What are Sacco and Vanzetti waiting for?
Crowd: For a pardon!

Translation by Siân Gibby

Thanks to Joseph Sciorra. For more info see his article, "The Sound of Italian American Protest," at this link.

- Sacco e Vanzetti (mp3).

Written by Renzo Vampo, Composed by F. Pensiero, and sung by Raoul Romito. Recorded May 1927.

Sacco e Vanzetti

Sacco e Vanzetti furono arrestati
a Boston una sera con sorpresa,
d'avere ucciso furono accusati
e pel verdetto furono in attesa.
Ma tutto il mondo insorse a tale atto
e piu di un dibattito passo,
per fare almeno luce sul misfatto,
ma tutto invan, la legge condanno!

Se ne son spesi dollari
sperando di salvar
quegl'infelici uomini da dubbia reita.

E Sacco disse: "Noi siamo innocenti,
e chi ci condanno lo sa pur bene,
ci han calcolati come delinquenti
stringendoci piu forte le catene.
Se il nostro fine in questo caso nuoce
di classe e l'odio che fa condannar,
mentre nel mondo intero una voce
s'innalza per poterci liberar.

Ed ho finito, disse,
Vanzetti, parlera,
io fin non mi so esprimere, egli continuera".

Vanzetti, l'altro martire, parlando
con voce calma e senza aver paura,
discusse quel delitto piu nefando
e pur l'orror della condanna oscura.
Ai giudici egli disse: "Condannate!
Rimorso atroce avrete voi un di".
Le nostre idee, e ver, sono avanzate
ma non per questo noi dobbiam morir".

Il mondo guarda e attende
e grida ognor cosi:
la sulla sedia elettrica non debbono morir!


Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested,
by surprise in Boston one night,
they were accused of murder
and they were awaiting the verdict.
But the whole world rises up against this act,
and many discussions took place,
trying at least to shed light on the wrongdoing,
but all in vain: The law found them guilty!

Much money was spent
hoping to save
These poor men from this spurious charge.

nd Sacco said: “We’re innocent,
and those accusing us know it very well,
they figured us for criminals
pulling the chains tighter around us.
If our fate in this case his death,
it’s class hatred that condemns,
while throughout the world a voice
calls out to try and free us.

“And I’m done,” he said,
“Vanzetti, he’ll speak;
I don’t know how to conclude my speech. He’ll continue.”

Vanzetti, the other martyr, speaking
in a calm voice and with no fear,
discussed that most heinous crime
and also the horror of the dark verdict.
To the judges he said, “Condemn us!
One day you’ll feel a terrible remorse.
It’s true, our ideas are advanced,
But we shouldn’t have to die for that.”

The world watches and waits
and even still cries out, saying:
They shouldn’t die on the electric chair!

Translation by Siân Gibby

Thanks to Joseph Sciorra. For more info see his article, "The Sound of Italian American Protest," at this link.

Videní - Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Music by Jan Urban. Words of Vanzetti loosely translated into Czech by Jan Urban. Taken from Sacco-Vanzetti. Pametní list Mezinárodní rudé pomoci Ceskoslovenska k vyrocí bostonské justicní vrazdy z 22. srpna 1927., compiled by Jan Urban (Prague: Edice MOPR, 1928). To see a higher res graphic image of the sheet music click here.

For a rendition by Meredith West (Boston) of the sheet music click here.

Below is a rough translation of the song:


We carry heavy leg chains and
are lying in the dirt, exhausted and waiting,
We are long long suffering, long suffering.
Comrades of the world we have suffered long and
truly believe only in your mighty strength
will our leg chains and our suffering be eliminated
and release us all from the darkness of prison at the right time.
At the right time, at the right time, at the right time,
at the right time send us a message of salvation,
At the right time send us a message of salvation!
At the right time send us a message of salvation!
We hear the shouts of happiness:
Long live calloused hands in freedom!
Even the world will shake with rejoicing:
Long live, long live the free world!

Woody Guthrie - Ballads of Sacco & Vanzetti. Commissioned by Moses Asch, 1945; composed and sung by Woody Guthrie 1946-47; originally issued in 1960 on Folkways FH5485. The CD includes 12 songs: 1. The flood and the storm 2. Two good men 3. I just want to sing your name 4. Red wine 5. Suassos lane 6. You souls of Boston 7. Old judge Thayer 8. Vanzetti's Rock 9. Vanzetti's Letter 10. Roo hog and die 11. We welcome to heaven 12. Sacco's letter to his son (by Pete Seeger)

- Suassos Lane (wma)
- You Souls of Boston (wma)
- Sacco's Letter to His Son (Pete Seeger) (wma)

Remembering Sacco & Vanzetti in Story and Song. A Live Performance by Charlie King & Karen Brandow

"A quarter century later Karen and I remember Nic & Bart as we work against capital punishment, for workers' rights, against war. This past year we have witnessed the mass arrest without due process of immigrants and dissidents, the launching of another war, the widening gulf between rich and poor, the stiffling of civil liberties and labor rights, and the clamor for executions. It seems we have not learned much in the 75 years since two good men were electrocuted for their dreams, their politics and their ethnicity. We hope that by remembering Sacco & Vanzetti we can understand and change." Charlie King and Karen Brandow, July 4, 2002.

The CD includes 27 pieces between reading and songs. (C) (P) 2002 Vaguely reminiscent sound. You can acquire the CD at www.charlieking.org

- Two good arms (mp3)

Ennio Morricone: Sacco and Vanzetti

Soloist: Dulce Ponte. (Original work of Joan Baez) - 2007 Concert in Warsaw -- Source: YouTube

Here's to you (Baez-Morricone) -- Bilingual rendition by Nana Mouskouri -- 1997. Source: YouTube.

(Lyrics by Joan Baez, Music by Ennio Morricone)

Here's to you, Nicola and Bart
Rest forever here in our hearts
The last and final moment is yours
That agony is your triumph

1971, 1978 Edizioni Musicali RCA, S.p.A. (ASCAP)