Monday, May 9, 2011

Eddie Balchowsky and the Spanish Civil War

I have a tendency to get songs stuck in my head, and doing this class means that they've been Utah Phillips' tunes lately. All weekend long it's been "Eddy's Song," to my ears one of Utah's best tunes. And a great story, too -- it's inspired by Ed Balchowsky, one of about 3,000 Americans who went to Spain to fight against Gen. Francisco Franco's fascists in the Spanish Civil War. The US, Great Britain and nearly all the rest of the world stayed neutral, while Italy and Germany came to the aid of the Francoists. Only the USSR effectively supported the Nationalists (the legally elected Spanish government); that communist presence further guaranteed no support from capitalist nations. Some people claim that this was where democratic forces could have, and should have, confronted the fascists before the world got plunged into global war.

To say the least, the experience changed Balchowsky's life. Listen to Utah tell the story, and the song on "Starlight on the Rails"- and there's also a fine version by Paul Rasmussen on "Long Gone." You can also check out the YouTube video and this link, where I swiped the photo of Balchowsky, and this one. Balchowsky also seems to have inspired Jimmy Buffett's "He Went to Paris."


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