Poems & Songs by Woody Guthrie
I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard travelling.
I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.
I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think that you’ve not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow. — Woody Guthrie
A Song By Woody Guthrie
Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land
Hard working man and brave
He said to the rich, “Give your goods to the poor.”
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand
His followers true and brave
One dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot
Has laid Jesus Christ in his grave
He went to the sick, he went to the poor,
And he went to the hungry and the lame;
Said that the poor would one day win this world,
And so they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
He went to the preacher, he went to the sheriff,
Told them all the same;
Sell all of your jewelry and give it to the Poor,
But they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
When Jesus came to town, the working folks around,
Believed what he did say;
The bankers and the preachers they nailed him on a cross,
And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
Poor working people, they follered him around,
Sung and shouted gay;
Cops and the soldiers, they nailed him in the air,
And they nailed Jesus Christ in his grave.
Well the people held their breath when they heard about his death,
And everybody wondered why;
It was the landlord and the soldiers that he hired.
That nailed Jesus Christ in the sky.
When the love of the poor shall one day turn to hate.
When the patience of the workers gives away
“Would be better for you rich if you never had been born”
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
This song was written in New York City
Of rich men, preachers and slaves
Yes, if Jesus was to preach like he preached in Galillee,
They would lay Jesus Christ in his grave.
Feed of Man
Beat up, butcher, and
You bleed a man:
If you bang up and badger and
Bloodlet a man;
And then I come along
On the feet of man
And half way laff and cry ’bout
The meat of man,
And I do what I can to
Bale string and tie some ballad truths
Up cured out
For the feed of man
Folks try to tell me
That it’s on God’s orders
That you bleed your man;
It’s on God’s good word that you
Bleed your man;
On God’s plan print
That you dead a man;
Or you spit and curse and whip
I say I’ll help you fix and
Squeeze yourself up a new kind of a God
Of some kind;
One that tells you
Fertilyze and multyplye;
Outsow and outblow,
Outplant and outgrow;
Outdo, and outrun, and outclimb, and out spread
Every other tree and bush
And brushy fruits and flower petalls;
Out fruit them all
For the feed of man;
Out stalk and out hunt and out think
For God’s own sweet sake, out think! Out think!
Outthink the fruits
Outgrow these animal kind and shapes of man!
It you miss and go down
Your dust will turn up on that long hot job
Once more again
To help in the feeding and the seed of man
And not in the bleeding and the end of man.
(also known as “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos”)
Words by Woody Guthrie, Music by Martin Hoffman
The crops are all in and the peaches are rott’ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again
Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees”
My father’s own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.
Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract’s out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.
We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died ‘neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.
The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, “They are just deportees”
Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except “deportees”?