Ballad of Accounting

Ewan MacColl

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Ewan MacColl

James Henry Miller (25 January 1915 – 22 October 1989) who used the stage name Ewan MacColl was a British folk singer, songwriter, socialist, actor, poet, playwright, and record producer. He was married to theatre director Joan Littlewood, and later to American folksinger Peggy Seeger. He collaborated with Littlewood in the theatre and with Seeger in folk music. He was the father of the late singer/songwriter Kirsty MacColl. Ewan sang Sacred Harp with Calum MacColl and Mike Seeger. more »


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In the morning we built the city 
In the afternoon walked through its streets 
Evening saw us leaving 

We wandered through our days as if they would never end 
All of us imagined we had endless time to spend 
We hardly saw the crossroads and small attention gave 
To landmarks on the journey from the cradle to the grave, 
cradle to the grave, cradle to the grave 

Did you learn to dream in the morning? 
Abandon dreams in the afternoon? 
Wait without hope in the evening? 

Did you stand there in the traces and let 'em feed you lies? 
Did you trail along behind them wearing blinkers on your eyes? 
Did you kiss the foot that kicked you, did you thank them for 
their scorn? 
Did you ask for their forgiveness for the act of being born, 
act of being born, act of being born? 

Did you alter the face of the city? 
Make any change in the world you found? 
Or did you observe all the warnings? 

Did you read the trespass notices, did you keep off the grass? 
Did you shuffle up the pavements just to let your betters pass? 
Did you learn to keep your mouth shut, were you seen but never heard? 
Did you learn to be obedient and jump to at a word, 
jump to at a word, jump to at a word? 

Did you demand any answers? 
The who and the what and the reason why? 
Did you ever question the setup? 

Did you stand aside and let 'em choose while you took second best? 
Did you let 'em skim the cream off and give to you the rest? 
Did you settle for the shoddy and did you think it right 
To let 'em rob you right and left and never make a fight, 
never make a fight, never make a fight? 

What did you learn in the morning? 
How much did you know in the afternoon? 
Were you content in the evening? 

Did they teach you how to question when you were at the school? 
Did the factory help you, were you the maker or the tool? 
Did the place where you were living enrich your life and then 
Did you reach some understanding of all your fellow men, 
all your fellow men, all your fellow men? 

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Written by: EWAN MACCOLL


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    Ballad of Accounting

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