Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
"Which Side Are You On" is one of the very few…
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
"Which Side Are You On" is one of the very few things about which Leonard and I conversed on the ride home. I started it with my accidental mix-up of the (false?) dichotomies: "They say in Harlan County / There are no neutrals there / Oh, will you be a lousy scab / Or a thug for J.H. Blair?"
Also suggested were "Harlan Ellison County / ... / Oh, will you be a motherf****r..." and "Are You On The Side?", postulating the existence of only one side.
When Leonard heard the song for the first time or so, he laughed at the lines that go something like, "Don't scab now for the bosses / Don't listen to their lies". He proposed an Equal Time version of the song, featuring J.H. Blair (sort of a jaunty Michigan J. Frog type, I imagine) on vocals: "Oh, scab for us, good workers / Please listen to our lies!"