Can't find this feminist song from the 70s
September 20, 2017 4:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a song women marched to in the 70s.

I remember marching in the early 70s and singing a song that is still on the jukebox in my head. It went like this: "Oh sisters, don't you weep don't you moan. Oh sisters don't you weep don't you moan, because the women's army is marching, oh sisters don't you weep. Once of these days in the middle of the night, the women's army's going to set things right, because the women's army is marching, oh sisters don't you weep."
I'm sure there were more verses. This song has nothing to do with "Mary don't you weep" by Aretha and others, totally different melody and tempo. I could hum it but don't know how to put that here.
Kinda expected to find it on youtube, but some very weird and inappropriate things pop up.
posted by sugarbx19 to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I simply googled what you quoted:

posted by humboldt32 at 4:54 PM on September 20, 2017

I think this is a variation on Pete Seeger's "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep". I know it's on the HARP (Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert, & Pete Seeger) album, with lyrics like "Mary wore three lengths of chain, and every link was in freedom's name".
posted by worldswalker at 5:52 PM on September 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I googled the first line and got this lesbian publication from the 70s. The words are used as a caption for Women's Suffrage Day in 1973 in LA. The title is given as "The Women's Army Song."
posted by bunderful at 7:15 PM on September 20, 2017

(If you want to make and share an audio recording and have an iPhone you could record yourself humming using the voice memo app and them upload it to soundcloud - you'd have to create a soundcloud account. I'm sure there's a way to do it with Android, I'm just not familiar with the options on those phones).
posted by bunderful at 7:19 PM on September 20, 2017

It appears to have been published in a book called Winds of the People.

Which is available on amazon for ... $199. Yikes. Maybe you could put in an interlibrary loan request via your local library, just for the pages you want.
posted by bunderful at 7:21 PM on September 20, 2017

My copy's in storage so I can't check, but Winds of the People eventually evolved into Rise Up Singing. It might be in that.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:40 PM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I checked my copy of Rise Up Singing after I saw your comment, Daily Alice, but didn't find it in the table of contents under "Women's Marching Song."
posted by bunderful at 8:00 PM on September 20, 2017

Here is a little more about "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" - a Negro spiritual which has roots going way back before Pete Seeger's time. In this case Mary is Mary of Bethany who pleaded with Jesus to heal her brother Lazarus - who, if you remember, was in a pretty poor state. Then there is another verse about Pharaoh's army getting drowned in the red sea. The basic message: keep your faith and you will persevere and make it through the dark times. The Swan Silvertones version is nice, I think (that version, in turn, inspired Paul Simon to write "Bridge over Troubled Water" - which is about a similar theme).
posted by rongorongo at 2:17 AM on September 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wow, I love AskMeFi. Worldswalker, you got the tune correct, thank you. humboldt32 thanks for finding some of the lyrics. bunderful thanks for the flashback and cool about the iPhone app.

I'm still hoping to find an online recording of some women actually singing the song!
posted by sugarbx19 at 12:18 AM on September 22, 2017

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