10 of Woody Guthrie's Songs/Introduction
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IN THESE TEN SONGS you will hear a lot of music of a lot of races. Songs of every color. Every people loves and copies the songs and the music, the ideas, the customs, of all the other races.
SONGS LIKE THESE soak into every wall, hall, factory, every hull of every ship, every hammer coming down on every (illegible text), every seed falling down into every row, every hand moving (illegible text) dust rag, a wheel, a lever, a dial, a handle, a button pushed.
IF YOU WILL LISTEN TO YOURSELF while you do (illegible text) you will hear yourself hum and sing your own song about (illegible text). You are making up a folk song. You have really made (illegible text) ballad. If you take the time to write down all of these (illegible text) and tunes in your own mind about the folks that you (illegible text) be famous as a composer.
I HAVE NEVER HEARD a nation of people sing on editorial out of a paper. A man sings about the little things that help him or hurt his people and he sings of what has got to be done to fix this world like it ought to be. These songs are singing history. History is being sung. I have sung them in several hundred Union Halls and not one single time have I seen them fail. People clap and yell, get hot and sweat, unloosen their collars, and sing on for hours.
OUR SHIPS ARE MANNED BY MEN OF ALL TONGUES and colors and I saw the whole world there before my eyes while I sang to the men a dozen spells a day, between working hours washing dishes. No matter who you are or where you're from, no matter what your color or your language, you will taste, hear, see and feel an old spark of your whole life somewhere in these songs. Cubans, Mexicans, Philipinos, Chinese, Scotch, Irish, Russian, French and German, all have told me, "This sounds exactly like it is in my country". These songs are a world mixture. The tunes and the words have been sung across all of the oceans by all of us, and up out of the past dark centuries.
I HAVE WALKED AND LISTENED to these songs in the TennesseeValley and heard versions on top of Pike's Peak and along the Columbia River. But I did not hear any of them on the radio. I did not hear any of them in the movie house. I did not hear a single ounce of our history being sung on the nickel juke box. The Big Boys don't want to hear our history of blood, sweat, work, and tears, of slums, bad housing, diseases, big blisters or big callouses, nor about our fight to have unions and free speech and a family of nations. But the people want to hear about all of those things in every possible way. The playboys and playgals don't work to make our history plain to us nor to point out to us which road to travel next. They hire out to hide our history from us and to point toward every earthly stumbling block.
HOLLYWOOD SONGS DON'T LAST. Broadway songs are sprayed with hundreds of thousands of dollars to get them sprouted and going. They sprout, they burst, they bloom and they fade. Wagon loads of your good money are shoveled and scattered onto them, but they are not our true history and we don't take them deep into our heart.
THE MONOPOLY ON MUSIC pays a few pet writers to go screwy trying to write and rewrite the same old notes under the same old formulas and the same old patterns. The songs have no guts. They sound sissified, timid, the spinning dreams of a bunch of neurotic screwballs. How can they be otherwise when they have no connection with the work and the fight of the whole human race? They are bad. They are hurtful, poisonous, complascent, distracting, full of jerky headaches and jangled nerves. I have seen soldiers and sailors on ships sail these insane records over into the water by the dozens. I have heard fighting men in the war zones scream and demand that the gibbery radio be shut off or it would be smashed.
SEVERAL MILLION SKULLS HAVE BEEN CRACKED WHILE OUR HUMAN RACE has worked and fought its way up to be union. Do the big bands and the orgasm gals sing a solitary thing about that? No. Not a croak. Our spirit of work and sacrifice they cannot sing about because their brain is bought and paid for by the big Money Boys who own and control them and who hate our world union. They hate our real songs, our fight songs, our work songs, our union songs, because they are the Light of Truth and the mind of the racketeer cannot face our Light. I would not care so much how they choose to waste the own personal lives but it is your money that they are using to hide your own history from you and to make your future a worse one. Some day you will have a voice in how all of your money is spent and then your songs will have some meaning. The British Government and the Soviets were forced to take over all of these things and their songs, records and programs are a thousand times better, they had to milk out all traces of complascency, sissiness, cowardliness, and tendencies to run and hide, or to turn into a nation of jerks. They took away all racial hatred, racial teasing, racial insults, racial jokes that were narrow and shallow, and it was been for the good of the people. They sing of the dignity of the work of the people and no racketeer cashes in on foney sexual fits. Workers smile and work and soldiers smile and fight, with no rattled brained mouth frothers to wreck your nerves.
THE BIGGEST THING
This is a Bible Story sort of bought up to streamline. It's told like a big tall tale but I'll stand for the truth of it. I'll meet any living person in a public debate at high noon on the green grass of Union Square to prove that is nothing but pure unwatered goldsplated facts. Never do I stretch the facts even a smillionth of an inch. I tell you how a man jumped across the ocean and I guess you know him well, his name is Adolph Hitler, we'll burn his soul in hell. This world is digging Slavery's grave and when this work is done that will be the biggest thing that man has ever done.
GRAND COOLEE DAM If you ever want to build a house up a town, or bring the people power, the secret is this: Sing about your people, not about your millionaire play folks. The rich ones hired airplanes full of entertainers and stars to come up to Oregon, Washington, Montana and Wyoming and tell the people that they didn't need no Coolee Dam at all, that is, not for the next couple of centuries. Take too much work and materials and would make the wheels run entirely too nice and light up the country entirely too bright. The world didn't need no more houses with electricity in them, no more factory towns singing with light metals and aluminum, no more flying fortresses zipping through the clouds. Then I sung another little song to sort of put these airplane loads of fonies back in their place.
THIS LAND IS MADE FOR YOU AND ME After we built the Coolee Dam we had to sell the people out there a lot of bonds to get the money to buy the copper wire and high lines and pay a whole big bunch of people at work and I don't know what all. We called them Public Utility Bonds, just about like a War Bond, same thing. (And a lot of politicians told the folks not to buy them but we sold them anyhow). The main idea about this song is, you think about these Eight words all the rest of your life and they'll come a bubbling up into Eighty Jillion all Union. Try it and see. THIS LAND IS MADE FOR YOUR AND ME.
HARD TRAVELING This is a song about the hard traveling of the working people, not the moonstruck mystic traveling of the professional vacationists. Song about a man that has rode the flat wheelers, kicked up cinders, dumped the red hot slag, hit the hard rock tunneling, hard harvesting, the hard rock jail, looking for a woman that's hard to find.
JACKHAMMER JOHN I guess I went by a million names and nobody knows me yet. And I don't guess I even know my own self yet. Maybe I don't know my own country here yet. I danced my duck on the whippachuck and skippered the blue canoe. I outworked old Paul Bunyan and six of his blue babe oxes. I can knock down more rock with my jackhammer in ten minutes than old Pecos Bill can by riding a cyclone to a dead stop. I hired out up here on this Saint Lawerence Seaway just lately and I ain't seen nobody around here that can turn out half as much work with both hands as I can with one. My name's Jackhammer John and I say we need more seaways, more shipways, more skyways, shiptrails and barge lines, more loading ports and more hands at work around here. My old jackhammer runs white hot to win this war and to kill fascism, but she runs a lot hotter to build this old world back up again. Gonna be a nice old world to look at when we all get to working together on her.
BED ON YOUR FLOOR I sing this song mainly just to make you think that I had a little run in with a man and had to lay him dead down on the floor, that the sheriff's on my trail with his big forty four, that the clock's striking midnight with daylight to go. But the mainest reason why I'm singing it is just to get to lay my head in a bed on your floor.
TALKING BLUES. Me talking. Me a talking. Out of my way folks this is me. Just me just me. You don't have to tell me who I am, I already know it's me. I know you're likeing it and it's tickling me smack smooth to death.
EAST TEXAS RED is a tale that I heard riding the freights and bumming around down along the Southeast Texas Gulf. Story of a man that thinks (or thought) like a fascist, I mean like a bully, or something super drooper. He thought he could push other folks around or sock them in jail if they sassed him back. He had the power to make a work slave out of you just for speaking your mind in front of him. He caused hundreds of thousands of men, women, kids to worry, to wonder, to walk the long walk, to bow down their heads and cry. Red and men like him have been a part of an old wore out slave system in a lot of states, actually giving him the power of a Nazi Storm Trooper. This song will show you that East Texas Red didn't get his business fixed.
DON'T LIE TO ME. Song about a family that worked on the railroad. Built the railroad. Killed by the railroad. Never did ride the nice big easy coach nor drive the big engine on account of a disease called Jim Crow. A disease as bad if not worse than the cancer. But now we're fighting a war to kill every trace of this plague called White (or any other color) Supremacy. Jim Crow and Fascism are one and the same vine. And this song will be sung by me and by you a thousand years after fascism is killed, this song we'll sing the first thing in the morning of our new union world. I know. I know because I happen to be the daddy of all of this whole big family of nations. A song about a family by the big fast railroad that always whistled on past them. You will sing this story like this was your family because this song will go to show you that we are all in the same big family. I got some awful wise children. They'll build some awful fast railroads in the air.