Ballad of the Welfare Mother (Pesha Gertler and Linda Allen)

“Ballad of the Welfare Mother” Sheet Music (pdf).
“Ballad of the Welfare Mother” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Pesha Gertler.
Tune: Linda Allen.


She stood on the pavement, holding a rock; she stood on the pavement still.
She stood on the pavement and hurled the rock at Welfare’s windowsill.
The rock, it barely made a dent. “That’s from a welfare bum,
Who’s tired of saying, ‘Thanks for a loaf,’ and only getting a crumb!”

She stood on the pavement, holding a rock; she stood like one harassed.
She stood on the pavement and hurled the rock; it bounced off the window glass.
“You hold up my check again and again, and you don’t give a damn
If me and my kids are hungry and broke, while it’s steak for my ex-old man!”

She paced on the pavement, holding a rock; she paced like one attacked.
She stopped, took aim, and hurled the rock and watched the window crack.
“You sneer at me, sneer at my kids, when we buy food with stamps,
But you never sneer at him each night when he goes out to dance.”

She paced on the pavement, holding a rock, while her sweat poured down like rain.
She stopped, took aim, and hurled the rock; it shattered the windowpane.
“The judge awarded the kids to me; my man was to pay support.
But you protect the men who run, and the children are victims in court.”

A crowd rushed out on the pavement, backing off as she took aim.
One brick in each hand and she hurled them right through the windowpane.
“You sneer at the holes in our shoes and clothes and rip off each dime I make
And shut the doors of school in my face then tell me to like my fate.”

“How’s it feel to have holes in you for a change?” she shouted through the broken glass.
And the crowd on the pavement yelled with her: “Up your bureaucratic ass!”
The sirens in the distance came closer; two cops shoved her aside.
“What have you done?” they snarled at her. “A moral act!” she cried.

They say she laughed in the jailhouse and sang the whole night long,
While people gathered outside and recalled the day in song:
Of how she’d paced and held a rock while her sweat poured down like rain,
Of how she’d stopped, took aim, and hurled the rock, and shattered the windowpane.


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