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Deportee

[ 17 ] September 3, 2013 |

Glad to see the Mexican immigrants killed in a 1948 plane crash near Fresno on an federal plane deporting them back to Mexico finally remembered with a proper gravestone.

Woody Guthrie wrote a song about it. I don’t know if he ever actually recorded it, but it’s been covered a ton of times. I’m a fan of the version Joe Ely did on the Los Super Seven album.

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  1. PhoenixRising says:

    Pretty sure that the Springsteen cover on ‘Til we Outnumber ‘Em’ is the definitive.

    Followed closely by Nanci Griffith (backed by Lucinda Williams, Tish Hinojosa & Odetta plus probably others I’m not thinking of) on ‘Other Voices, Too’.

    Both of those are simply great recordings. Not just saying that because I witnessed the Severance Hall jam session (Cleveland) or the tour for Other Voices, which was preceded by Bela Fleck and followed by John Hiatt, booked against the Ohio State Fair in August 1998. But both were excellent shows. From what I can recall.

    • Jestak says:

      Followed closely by Nanci Griffith (backed by Lucinda Williams, Tish Hinojosa & Odetta plus probably others I’m not thinking of) on ‘Other Voices, Too’.

      Steve Earle and John Stewart, too–this is certainly the “all star” cover of Deportee.

  2. Bloix says:

    Guthrie wrote the lyrics but not the music, which was written by a non-professional named Martin Hoffman about 10 years after Guthrie wrote the words – in about 1958. By that time Guthrie was already hospitalized. Although Pete Seeger sang it, the first recording appears to have been by Dave Guard and the Whiskey Hill Singers in 1962. see http://www.discogs.com/artist/Martin+Hoffman+%282%29
    (Guard had previously been a member of the Kingston Trio.)

  3. Joel Patterson says:

    Thanks! I hadn’t heard Ely’s version.

  4. Desert Rat says:

    Wow. Have to admit I heard the Springsteen version, but knew nothing about the incident that inspired it.

    This was long overdue.

  5. pete says:

    Great news, thanks.

    I seem to have known this forever, probably first by Judy Collins. I too like Joe Ely’s version, but my absolute fave is Dylan & Baez during the 1976 Rolling Thunder tour; one of their best-ever duets. It was broadcast on the TV special (nowadays I think DVD) but was not on the album Hard Rain, though it was widely bootlegged and for good reason.

    • pete says:

      Oh, video is linked from the linked NYT article. Which is worth reading. Kudos to Tim Hernandez, who did the detective work, and to the high schoolers (mostly farmworkers’ kids) who raised $14,000 to get the memorial done. I am moved to tears.

  6. The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    This is the first I have ever heard of this, and I’ve spen pretty much my entire life in California.

  7. David says:

    The first version I ever heard was by the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson).

  8. JLK says:

    Woody did record it,I have it on a boxed set somewhere. And the definitive version has to be from “Cisco Houston Sings the Songs of Woody Guthrie,” an album my dad treasured.

  9. JBJ says:

    I wasn’t familiar with the song, or with the singer Barbara Dane, until I heard this (on the compilation Classic Folk Music from Smithsonian Folkways):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aHoOBieY8s

  10. BobS says:

    The first version I heard is still my favorite, off The Byrds album Ballad of Easy Rider.

  11. matt says:

    I’m fond of Ani DiFranco’s version

  12. pete says:

    The Fresno Bee report lists the names, 28 Mexican deportees plus 4 crew.

  13. Anna in PDX says:

    Wow had no idea there were so many covers. I’ve heard Arlo Guthrie doing at least two different ones and think I have heard a Seeger version as well.

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