The Ballad of Bloody Thursday (Anonymous)

“The Ballad of Bloody Thursday” Sheet Music (pdf).
“The Ballad of Bloody Thursday” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Anonymous.
Tune: “The Streets of Laredo.”


As I was a-walking one day in Frisco,
One day in Frisco, the city by the bay,
I spied a longshoreman all dressed in white linen,
All dressed in white linen and cold as the clay.

“I see by your outfit that you are a worker.”
These words he did say as I slowly passed by.
“Sit down beside me and hear my sad story
For I’m shot in the breast and I know I must die.”

“It was down on the ’front where I worked on the cargoes.
I worked on the cargoes ten hours a day.
I lost my right fingers because of the speedup:
The speedup that killed many a man in my day.”

“With too much of a sling load on old rusty cable,
The boss saved ten dollars, ten dollars, I say.
That old rusty sling broke and fell on my buddy.
Those ten lousy bucks carried Jimmy away.”

“Those were the days when the boss owned the union.
We poor working stiffs, we had nothing to say.
Ours was to work and to keep our big traps shut.
We stood in the shape-up for a dollar a day.”

“But our children were hungry; their clothing was tattered.
It’s then that we workers began to get wise.
We tore up our fink books and listened to Bridges,
Saying, ‘Look at your kids, brother! Let’s organize!’”

“Strong and united, we went to the bosses
For better conditions and a decent day’s pay.
The bosses just laughed; we all had a meeting.
That’s why we’re hitting the bricks here today.”

“Our struggles were many; our struggles were bloody.
We fought the shipowners with all that we had.
With thousands of dollars, they tempted our leaders.
But our guys were honest: they couldn’t be had.”

“It was there on the line that I marched with my brothers.
It was there on the line as we proudly passed by.
The cops and the soldiers, they brought up their rifles.
I’m shot in the breast, and I know I must die.”

“Four hundred strikers were brutally wounded.
Four hundred workers and I left there to die.
Remember the day, sir, to all of your children:
This bloody Thursday, the Fifth of July.”

“Don’t beat the drums slowly; don’t play the pipes lowly.
Don’t play the dead march as they carry me along.
There’s wrongs that need righting, so keep right on fighting.
And lift a loud voice in proud union song.”

“Fight on together with organized workers.
Fight on together: there’s nothing to fear.
Remember the martyrs of this bloody Thursday.
Let nothing divide you: your vict’ry is near.”


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