Earl Robinson may not be so well known nowadays as he once was, but in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, a huge number of Americans knew his music. He was the composer of “The House I Live In,” “Joe Hill,” “Ballad for Americans,” and many others. Singers of his works included Paul Robeson, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Joan Baez, and Three Dog Night. His music crossed the boundaries of folk, Broadway musical, classical, and even rock. Throughout his life he was driven by a need to improve working people’s lives, and he was a longtime member of the Communist Party, which resulted in his being called before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. His autobiography, Ballad of an American, written in collaboration with author Eric Gordon, was released in 1998, and has been out of print. Now it is being re-released, and we are happy to bring you, through the permission of Eric Gordon, this extract from the book, where we enact, in Earl’s words, his tangle with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.
Click on the triangle above to hear the reading as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.