He Lies in the American Land

DESCRIPTION: A man emigrates to America, leaving wife and children back in Europe. When he sends for them, they arrive to find only his grave; he has been killed in the steel mill. She cries out to him; his voice tells her not to wait, for he lies in the American land
AUTHOR: Andrew Kovaly
EARLIEST DATE: 1947 (collected from the author; Korson-PennsylvaniaSongsAndLegends; reportedly written in the early 1900s)
KEYWORDS: emigration separation reunion death work wife children worker technology foreignlanguage
FOUND IN: US(MA)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Korson-PennsylvaniaSongsAndLegends, pp. 437-438, "Odpocivam v Americkej pode (I Lie in the American Land)" (1 Slovak text plus non-poetic English translation, 1 tune)
Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia1, pp. 155-156, "I Lie in the American Land" (1 Slovak text with English translation)
Foner-AmericanLaborSongsOfTheNineteenthCentury, p. 287, "I LIe in the American Land" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: MacEdward Leach and Henry Glassie, _A Guide for Collectiors of Oral Traditions and Folk Cultural Material in Pennsylvania_, Pennsylvania historical and Museum Commission, 1973, pp. 38-39, "Odpoivam v Americkej pode" (1 Slovak text with English translation)
Pete Seeger, _Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Musical Autobiography_, A SIng Out Publication, 1993, 1997, p.118, "He Lies in the American Land" (1 Slovak text, 1 tune, plus Pete Seeger's translation)

RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "He Lies in the American Land" (on PeteSeeger13, AmHist2, PeteSeeger48)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "I Have a Father in My Native Land" (theme)
NOTES [180 words]: Many, perhaps most of the workers who made steel in the two great centers of South Chicago and western Pennsylvania were eastern European immigrants. - PJS
I don't know if this is an authentic folk song; Paul thinks so, or he would not have submitted it. Certainly it has the genuine folk sensibility; it's almost a modern revenant ballad. It appears that the original meaning of the last line is "I lie in the American land," but I use the "He Lies..." title because that's the way Pete Seeger recorded it. Seeger, on p. 117 of Where Have All the Flower Gone, recalls learning the song while singing for the International Workers' Order (IWO) near Pittsburg in 1947. A man came up to him and said that he used to make up songs when he was young. Seeger asked the man to teach one to him. The man said that Seeger wouldn't understand; it was in Slovak. But Seeger's companion, Dr. Jacob Evanson, knew Slovak, and was able to take down text and tune. The man was Andrew Kovaly. Seeger eventually came up with a singable translation, which is how most people know the song today. - RBW
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