TWO GOOD ARMS
by Charlie King © 1978
Charlie King Pied Asp Music (BMI)
In Boston in 1927, two Italian immigrant anarchist labor organizers, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were framed on robbery and murder charges - and executed. Fifty years later, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts proclaimed that their executions were a miscarriage of justice. For over 15 years (first with Four Parts of the Movement Chorus and now with The DIA Singers), Mel has been singing this song, which celebrates the strength and dignity of working people and memorializes the injustices to which they have been subjected. The lyrics are derived from Vanzetti's statement to the Court:
"Everybody that knows these two arms knows very well that I did not need to go in between the street and kill a man to take the money. I can live with my two arms and live well….I am not only innocent of these two crimes, but in all my life I have never stole and I have never killed and I have never spilled blood...but I have struggled all my life, since I began to reason to eliminate crime from the earth."
Let us always remember!
Vocals: Solo by Mel with backup by Marcia and The Chorus
Harmonica: Nancy De Luca, Guest Instrumentalist
Who will remember the hands so white and fine
That touched the finest linen, that poured the finest wine?
Who will remember the genteel words they spoke,
As they called the lives of two good men a nuisance or a joke?
"And all who know these two good arms
Know I never had to rob or kill;
I can live by my own two hands and live well,
And all my life I have struggled to rid the earth of all such crimes."
Who will remember Judge Webster Thayer
With one hand on the gavel, the other resting on his chair?
Who will remember the hate-filled words he said,
Speaking to the living in the language of the dead?
Who will remember the hand that pulled the switch
That took the lives of two good men in the service of the rich?
Who will remember the one who gave the nod
Or the chaplain standing near at hand to invoke the name of god?
We will remember this good shoemaker.
We will remember this poor fish peddler.
We will remember all the strong arms and hands
That never once found justice in the hands that rule this land.
And all who knew these two good men
Knew they never had to rob or kill.
Each had lived by his own two hands and lived well,
And all their lives they had struggled to rid the earth of all such crimes.
And all our lives we must struggle to rid the earth of all such crimes.