Jeff Tweedy’s Sticking With the Union on New Rendition of Woody Guthrie’s ‘Union Maid’
Jeff Tweedy has shared a new version of Woody Guthrie’s classic labor song, “Union Maid,” which appears as a bonus track on the soundtrack for Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut When You Finish Saving the World.
Tweedy delivers a zippy, brisk rendition of the early-Forties anthem, which is sung from the perspective of a proud, take-no-bullshit union woman. “This union maid was wise to the tricks of the company spies,” Tweedy sings over his breezy acoustic guitar, “She’d never be fooled by a company stool/She’d always organize the guys.”
“Union Maid” was written in 1940, with Guthrie pairing the lyrics with the melody of Kerry Mills’ “Red Wing.” While there’s a snippet of Guthrie performing the song live as a solo artist, the most famous recording appears on the Almanac Singers’ 1941 album, Talking Union.
Though this is the first time Tweedy has done a rendition of “Union Maid,” he, of course, has plenty of history with Guthrie’s music. Back in the late Nineties and early 2000s, Wilco and Billy Bragg teamed up for a pair of albums, Mermaid Avenue, Vols. I and II, which found them pairing unheard Guthrie lyrics with new music.
As for When You Finish Saving the World, the film recently arrived in theaters after premiering at Sundance last year. The movie stars Finn Wolfhard as an up-and-coming folk musician trying to simultaneously navigate a complicated relationship with his mother, played by Julianne Moore. The film’s soundtrack features original music by Wolfhard and Eisenberg, as well as a score composed by Emile Mosseri.