Janet Greene: “Poor Left-winger” (1966)

Janet Greene was an American folk singer who had a whirlwind career performing anti-communist songs in the mid-1960s.

Greene was born Janet Marcum in Ohio in 1930. She married businessman David Greenroos while a teenager then worked as a children’s performer and television host in her native state.

In 1964, anti-communist activists persuaded Greene to relocate to California. She wrote and recorded eight political songs, one of the first of which was Commie Lies (“Satan has a new disguise, be careful of the Commie Lies, swallow them and freedom dies”).

Greene’s sweet voice but politically barbed lyrics led some to dub her the “anti-Baez”, a reference to popular progressive folk singer Joan Baez.

Poor Left-winger is typical of Greene’s songs. Its lyrics attack “befuddled, bewildered [and] forlorn” left-wing activists for “peddling [their] communist corn”. Greene draws heavily on stereotypes of liberals and socialists, describing them as bearded, long-haired and sandal-wearing.

I’m just a poor left-winger
Befuddled, bewildered, forlorn
Duped by a bearded singer
Peddling his Communist corn
In the Café Expresso
Sounds of guitars could be heard
Twanging a plaintive folk song
Spreading the Communist word
Hair hung around his shoulders
And sandals were on his feet
His shirttail was ragged and dirty
Making the picture complete

I followed him off to college
The man that I came to adore
Where student demonstrations
Blocked every classroom door
We led the march on the White House
And forced the cops to come in
We claimed each one was brutal
As we kicked him in the shin
It was all so intellectual
What glorious tales I was told
Of history’s certain progress
Into the Communist fold

I fell for those empty falsehoods
But now I know full well
Those little words on the posters
Were all that he could spell
Those dialectic phrases
Made a marvellous spiel
But hidden behind that beard
Beat the heart of a frustrated heel
Now all my illusions are shattered
About the man I admired
I’m just a poor left-winger
Befuddled, bewildered and tired!

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