“I have spent my life judging the distance between American reality and the American dream.”
The “Faces of America” is a beautiful beautiful work by Michael S. Williamson, twice Pulitzer price photographer. Bruce credited one of Williamson’s books (co-written with Dale Maharidge) The Saga of the New Underclass – Journey to Nowhere, as an inspiration for two songs from his album The Ghost of Tom Joad, “Youngstown” and “The New Timer”:
“I had completed most of the “Tom Joad” record when one night, unable to sleep, I pulled this book down off my living room shelf. I read it in one sitting and I lay awake that night disturbed by its power and frightened by its implications. In the next week, I wrote ‘Youngstown’ and ’The New Timer.’ Dale Maharidge and Michael S. Williamson put real lives, names, and faces on statistics we’d all been hearing about throughout the Eighties.People who all their lives had played by the rules, done the right thing, and had come up empty, men and women whose work and sacrifice had built this country, who’d given their sons to its wars and then whose lives were marginalized or discarded. I lay awake that night thinking: What if the craft I’d learned was suddenly deemed obsolete, no longer needed? What would I do to take care of my family? What wouldn’t I do?
these are the questions Dale Maharidge and Michael S. Williamson pose with their words and pictures. Men and women struggling to take care of their own in the most impossible conditions and still moving on, surviving.
“As we tuck our children into bed at night, this is an America many of us fail to see, but it is a part of the country we live in, an increasing part. Here is the cost in blood, treasure, and spirit, that the post-industrialization of the United States has levied on its most loyal and forgotten citizens, the men and women who built the buildings we live in, laid the highways we drive on, made things, and asked for nothing in return but a good day’s work and a decent living.“
(from the preface Bruce wrote for the book re-release in 1995)
Thank you to Lisa Everhart who shares some of Michael S. Williamson’s beautiful portraits of American people. Please feel free to like and visit her album to see new pictures every week, as well as Michael S. Williamson’s page.
“You can’t have a United States if you are telling some folks that they can’t get on the train.”