play soundclip for Legal Illegal

Legal Illegal

Ewan McColl
Every time you pick up a newspaper, Every time you switch on the T.V., You can bet your old boots that at some point you'll see, A high ranking Garda or else a T.P. Calling on all who are meant to be free, To stand up and defend law and order. It's illegal to rip off a payroll, It's illegal to hold up a train, But it's legal to rip off a million or two, That comes from the labour that other folk do, To plunder the many on behalf of the few, Is a thing that is perfectly legal. It's illegal to kill off your landlord Or to trespass upon his estate But to charge a high rent for a slum is O.K. To condemn two adults and three children to stay In a hovel that's rotten with damp and decay It's a thing that is perfectly legal. If your job turns you into a zombie Then it's legal to feel some despair But don't get agressive and don't get too smart For Christ's sake don't upset the old applecart Remember you boss has your interest at heart And it grieves him to see you unhappy. If you fashion a bomb in your kitchen, You're guilty of breaking the law, But a bloody great nuclear plant is O.K., And plutonium processing hastens the day, This tight little isle will be blasted away, Nonetheless it is perfectly legal. It's illegal if you are a traveller, To camp by the side of the road, But it's proper and right for the rich and the great, To live in a mansion or own an estate, That was got from the people by pillage and rape, That is what they call a tradition. It's illegal to kill off your missus, Or put poison in your old man's tea, But poison the river's the seas or the skies, And poison the minds of a nation with lies, It's all in the interest of free enterprise, Nonetheless it's perfectly legal. Well it's legal to sing on the telly, But make bloody sure that you don't, To sing about racists and fascists and creeps, And those in high places who live off the weak, And hose who are selling us right up the creek, The twisters, the takers, the conmen, the fakers, The whole bloody gang of exploiters.


original version
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