ON THE banks of the Clyde, arms aloft in a defiant pose, stands La Pasionaria, the Communist heroine of the Spanish Civil War, who coined the phrase “better to die on your feet than live a lifetime on your knees.”

La Pasionaria – the Passion Flower – was Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, and her inspirational life and words have inspired songs, books and films as well as artworks and monuments.

The statue at Custom House Quay was erected in 1979 to commemorate the Glasgow men and women who travelled to Spain to fight fascism during the civil war between 1936 and 1939.

Glasgow Times: La Pasionaria

Now, Glasgow band The Tenementals, a group of academics and musicians who came together to tell the radical history of Glasgow through the power of music, has released a single written from the statue’s point of view.

A Passion Flower’s Lament is the first single from the band’s forthcoming debut album Glasgow: A History (Volume I of VI), which will be released on Strength in Numbers Records in the autumn.

Glasgow Times: The Tenementals

The statue, by Arthur Dooley, was erected in 1979 and it has become a common gathering point for activists and radical groups.

La Pasionaria is credited with coining the classic anti-fascist phrase “No pasarán" (they shall not pass) during the Siege of Madrid, when right-wing military forces were attempting to overthrow the democratically-elected leftist Republican government.

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The conflict developed into an ideological struggle between socialism and fascism with famous names such as Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell travelling to Spain to fight for the Republican cause, and they were joined by more than 2000 volunteers from Britain.

Around 500 Scots served with the International Brigades during the war. Of the 134 who lost their lives, 65 came from the Glasgow area.

Glasgow Times:

The song’s opening words, sung by Jen Cunnion, include: “I stand here eternal, bronze arms outstretched/ reaching for green leaves, red brick, red heavens..”

In the song, the statue converses with those who come to celebrate her past as she reflects on the thornier side of the conflict.

As she puts it in the chorus: “For what should you know?/ And what should you care?/ Of a past far more complex/ As forward we stare?/ Once more the jackboot/Seeks to recruit/Pass they shall not/Pass they shall not.”

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David Archibald, founder and frontman of The Tenementals, said: "The statue has become an iconic part of Glasgow’s cityscape.

“It rightly celebrates the courageous men who travelled to Spain to fight fascism with the International Brigades. The city is right to hold a special place in its heart for the memory of these men.”

He adds: “The Tenementals, though, are not interested in black-and-white histories, we’re interested in the complexity of the past.

“It is not well known, but some members of the International Brigades, dissidents and deserters, were held in a make-shift prison in the town of Castelldefels, near Barcelona, and there were wider conflicts on the Republican left.

“The song asks us to consider what we might do with the troubling aspects of the Spanish Civil War at a time when fascism once more rears its head.”

The band has dedicated the song to Bob Smillie, a University of Glasgow student who left behind his studies in chemistry and travelled to Spain to fight alongside George Orwell on the Aragon Front.

Bob was subsequently involved in an internal conflict which led to him being imprisoned, and most likely killed, by his own forces.

David adds: “But we are not focused on this period as one of only defeats. We also focus on a moment of revolutionary possibility when, as Orwell put it, ‘the workers were in the saddle.’

“If it happened once, it can happen again."

The Tenementals have created an impressive catalogue of songs which explore the radical side of Glasgow’s past, from the militant Suffragettes of the early twentieth century and the Sighthill Martyrs of 1820, to the Red Clydesiders, such as trade union activist and former Glasgow University rector Jimmy Reid.