Swell the Harvest was a song written in 1930 by a state employed poet. The song is about farmers trading in their old farm equipment that their grandfathers used for new, more modern farm equipment that is far more efficient at planting crops.
It was common for peasant farmers to sing short songs whenever they farmed, so the government hoped that songs like Swell the Harvest would catch on and become popular. This was an advertisement campaign of sorts with the hope being that these types of songs would ultimately convince farmers to buy the more technologically advanced and more productive machines so that they could produce more food.
This song was written directly in the middle of the first 5-year plan. At this point, there was a lot of pressure to participate in and to adhere to the ideals of the Cultural Revolution. It was through artistic messaging such as this short song that the Soviet government was trying to change the country’s “backwardness”.
The Soviet government had such an interest in modernizing the countries relatively primitive farms that along with songs, they also made films about farming. One such movie came out in 1939 and was called Трактористы (Tractor Drivers). This film was a comedy/romance about a girl on a collective farm in Ukraine.
- Russian Reader Picture (p.142 Swell the Harvest)