I Am a Union Woman 


Aunt Molly Jackson

"I Am a Union Woman" (karaoke)

"I Am a Union Woman" (sheet music)


I am a union woman

As brave as I can be

I do not like the bosses

And the bosses don't like me

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

 

I was raised in old Kentucky

Kentucky borned and bred

And when I joined the union

Well, they called me a "Rooshian Red"

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

 

My husband asked the boss for a job

This is the words he said:

"Bill Jackson, I can't work you, sir,

'Cause your wife's a 'Rooshian Red'"

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

 

These is the worst times

That I have ever saw

You get shot down by gun thugs

You get framed up by the law

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

 

Our bosses ride fine horses

And we walk in the mud

Their banner is the dollar sign

And ours is striped with blood

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

 

If you want to get your freedom

Also your liberty

Join the dear old N.M.U.

And come along with me

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.

Join the N.M.U.

Come and join the N.M.U.


Aunt Molly Jackson 


Aunt Molly Jackson (1880-1960) was a midwife, singer/songwriter, and union organizer from Kentucky.


“When people ask Aunt Molly Jackson, born Mary Magdalene Garland, whether she’s English or Irish, she smiles and her kindly gray eyes grow misty. ‘I’m neither,’ she says. ‘I’m a ‘mixtry’ of joy and sorrow.’ It’s mostly sorrow, but Aunt Molly doesn’t add that. ‘The Brave Hero of Kentucky,’ they call her in her mountains. Aunt Molly lives in Bell County, Kentucky, ‘where men starve, and the hands of little children have to be bound to keep them from gnawing their own flesh.’ Her husband and stepson work in the mines when there’s work to be had, as did her father. She goes from Bell to Harlan County and back again, begging bread and clothing for the starving and the unclad, and finding shelter for the homeless…. ‘So I’ve come to hate Kentucky. There isn’t any just law there. Tongue can’t express the horror and sorrow we’ve gone through. The white people are worse off there now than the Negroes were under slavery. There isn’t any other place in the world as hard-hearted and cruel. They rob the little children of bread and the grownups of clothing. It’s heart-rending to memory, all these things…. I’d be glad never to see Kentucky again,’ she said, ‘if it weren’t for my loved ones.’”

—"Aunt Molly Jackson Joy-Sorrow 'Mixtry,'"

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (6 Dec 1931, p. 46)


I Am a Union Woman


 

The Murder of Harry Simms 


Jim Garland

"The Murder of Harry Simms" (karaoke)

"The Murder of Harry Simms" (sheet music)


Comrades, listen to my story, Comrades, listen to my song

I'll tell you of a hero, who now is dead and gone

I'll tell you of a young boy, whose age was just nineteen

He was the bravest union man that I have ever seen

 

Harry Simms was a pal of mine, we labored side by side

Expecting to be shot on sight or taken for a ride

By the coal bosses’ gun thugs that roam from town to town

To shoot and kill our Comrades, where'er they may be found

 

Harry Simms and I were parted at five o'clock that day

"Be careful, my dear Comrade," to Harry I did say

"I must do my duty" was his reply to me

"If I get killed by gun thugs, don't grieve after me"

 

Harry Simms was walking up the track this bright, sunshiny day

He was a youth of courage, his step was light and gay

We did not know the gun thugs was hiding on the way

To kill our dear young Comrade this bright, sunshiny day

 

Harry Simms was killed on Bush Creek in Nineteen-Thirty-Two

He organized the Y.C.L., also the N.M.U.

He gave his life in struggle, that was all that he could do

He died to save the union, also for me and you

 

Comrades, we must vow today, this is one thing we must do

Must organize the miners in the dear old N.M.U.

And get a million volunteers into the Y.C.L.

And sink this rotten system in the deepest pits of Hell


A Fool There Was 


Joseph Brandon

"A Fool There Was" (karaoke)

"A Fool There Was" (sheet music)


A fool there was and he had no job

Even as you and I

And he didn't want to steal or rob

Even as you and I

And so each day he thinner grew

He tightened his belt a notch or two

'Til it nearly cut him right in two

Even as you and I

 

He voted for what he thought was change

Even as you and I

When nothing did he thought it strange

Even as you and I

But though the promises lost their shine

He couldn't help thinking it oh so kind

They'd saved him a place in the old soupline

Even as you and I

 

He watched depression growing worse

Even as you and I

As bankers looted the public purse

Even as you and I

They told him this was a country grand

With plenty of everything in the land

So he starved to death with a flag in his hand

Even as you and I


I Am a Girl of Constant Sorrow 


Sarah Ogan Gunning

"I Am a Girl of Constant Sorrow" (karaoke)

"I Am a Girl of Constant Sorrow" (sheet music)


I am a girl of constant sorrow

I've seen trouble all my days

I bid farewell to old Kentucky

The place where I was borned and raised

The place where she was borned and raised

 

My mother, how I hated to leave her

Mother dear, who now is dead

But I had to go and leave her

So my children could have bread

So my children could have bread

 

Well, our clothes are always ragged

And our feet are always bare

And I know if there is a heaven

That we all are going there

That we all are going there

 

Goodbye, my friends, I hate to leave you

It grieves me so that we must part

For I know we all are hungry

Oh, it almost breaks my heart

Oh, it almost breaks my heart

 

Well, we call this Hell on earth, friends

I must tell you all goodbye

Oh, I know you all are hungry

Oh, my darling friends, don't cry

Oh, my darling friends, don't cry


 

There Is Mean Things Happening in This Land 


John Handcox

"There Is Mean Things Happening in This Land" (karaoke)

"There Is Mean Things Happening in This Land" (sheet music)


There is mean things happening in this land

There is mean things happening in this land

Oh, the rich man boasts and brags

While the poor man goes in rags

There is mean things happening in this land.

 

There is mean things happening in this land

There is mean things happening in this land

Oh, the farmer cannot eat

'Cause he's raised too much wheat

There is mean things happening in this land.

 

There is mean things happening in this land

There is mean things happening in this land

Too much cotton in our sacks

So we have none on our backs

There is mean things happening in this land.

 

There is mean things happening in this land

There is mean things happening in this land

Lots of groceries on the shelves

But we have none for ourselves

There is mean things happening in this land.

 

There is mean things happening in this land

There is mean things happening in this land

But when workers all refuse

To be blinded and abused

There'll be good things happening in this land.

 

There'll be good things happening in this land

There'll be good things happening in this land

When the workers take a stand

And unite in a solid band

There'll be good things happening in this land.


 

Come All You Coal Miners 


Sarah Ogan Gunning

"Come All You Coal Miners" (karaoke)

"Come All You Coal Miners" (sheet music)


Come all you coal miners wherever you may be

And listen to a story that I'll relate to thee

My name is nothing extry, but the truth to you I'll tell

I am a coal miner's wife, I'm sure I wish you well.

 

Coal mining is the most dangerous work in our land today

With plenty of dirty slavin' work and very little pay

Coal miners, won't you wake up, open your eyes, and see

What the dirty cap't'list system is doing to you and me.

 

They take your very lifeblood, they take our children's lives

Take fathers away from children and husbands away from wives

Coal miners, won't you organize wherever you may be

And make this a land of freedom for workers like you and me.

 

Dear miners, they will slave you 'til you can't work no more

And what will you get for your living but a dollar in a company store

A tumble-down shack to live in, snow and rain pour in the top

You have to pay the company rent, your paying never stops.

 

I am a coal miner's wife, I'm sure I wish you well

Let's sink this cap't'list system in the darkest pits of hell.


Toiling on Life's Pilgrim Pathway 


Ella May Wiggins

"Toiling on Life's Pilgrim Pathway" (karaoke)

"Toiling on Life's Pilgrim Pathway" (sheet music)


Toiling on life's pilgrim pathway

Wheresoever you may be

It will help your fellow workers

If you will join the I.L.D.

 

Come and join the I.L.D.

Yeah, come and join the I.L.D.

It will help to win the victory

Yeah, if you will join the I.L.D.

 

When the bosses cut your wages

And you toil the labor free

Come and join the textile union

Also join the I.L.D.

 

Come and join the I.L.D.

Yeah, come and join the I.L.D.

It will help to win the victory

Yeah, if you will join the I.L.D.

 

Now our leaders are in prison

But I hope they'll soon be free

Come and join the textile union

Also join the I.L.D.

 

Come and join the I.L.D.

Yeah, come and join the I.L.D.

It will help to win the victory

Yeah, if you will join the I.L.D.

 

Now the South is hedged in darkness

Although they begin to see

Come and join the textile union

Also join the I.L.D.

 

Come and join the I.L.D.

Yeah, come and join the I.L.D.

It will help to win the victory

Yeah, if you will join the I.L.D.


The Mill Mother's Song 


Ella May Wiggins

"The Mill Mother's Song" (karaoke)

"The Mill Mother's Song" (sheet music)


We leave our homes in the morning

We kiss our children goodbye

While we slave for the bosses

Our children scream and cry

And when we draw our money

Our grocery bills to pay

Not a cent to spend for clothing

Not a cent to lay away

And on that very evening

Our little son will say

"I need some shoes, dear mother,

And so does sister, May.

 

How it grieves the heart of a mother

You everyone must know

But we can't buy for our children

Our wages are too low

It is for our little children

That seem to us so dear

But for us nor them, dear workers,

The bosses do not care

But understand, all workers,

Our union they do fear

Let's stand together, workers,

And have a union here.

 

Now listen to me, workers,

Both women and men

We are sure to win our union

If all would enter in

I hope this will be a warning

I hope you'll understand

And help us win our vict'ry

And lend to us a hand.


Ella May Wiggins 


Ella May Wiggins (1900-1929) was an American textile worker, union organizer, and singer/songwriter murdered by company gun thugs.


"Woody Guthrie considered her one of our nation’s best songwriters. Alan Lomax published her stark union ballads in his acclaimed collections of American folksongs. Pete Seeger recorded a version of her most famous song on a Cold War folk revival album. Her name was Ella May Wiggins, and although she is not well known today, she was one of a handful of southern grassroots composers who combined traditional balladry with leftwing politics to forge a remarkable new song genre just prior to and during the upheaval of the Great Depression. She also helped to spearhead a Communist-led labor uprising of unprecedented scale in Gastonia, North Carolina, then the textile-manufacturing capital of the American South and, indeed, the entire world. And then, before her ringing Appalachian alto could be captured on a phonograph record, she was gone. Ella May Wiggins, the 'poet laureate' of the Gastonia Textile Strike of 1929, peer of such southern folk-music giants as Harlan coal-mining singer Aunt Molly Jackson, Arkansas sharecropper poet John Handcox, and Okie balladeer Woody Guthrie, was silenced by a mill thug’s bullet on September 14, 1929. She was only twenty-nine years old, but she left in her wake an extraordinary legacy of protest songs and union activism."

—Patrick Huber, "Mill Mother’s Lament: Ella May Wiggins and the Gastonia

Textile Strike of 1929," Southern Cultures (Vol. 15, No. 3)


The Mill Mother's Song

Toiling on Life's Pilgrim Pathway


 

Dreadful Memories 


Sarah Ogan Gunning

"Dreadful Memories" (karaoke)

"Dreadful Memories" (sheet music)


Dreadful mem'ries, how they linger

How they ever flood my soul

How the workers and their children

Die from hunger and from cold.

 

Hungry fathers, wearied mothers

Living in those dreadful shacks

Little children cold and hungry

With no clothing on their backs.

 

Dreadful gun thugs and stool pigeons

Always flock around our door

What's the crime that we've committed?

Nothing, only that we're poor.

 

When I think of all the heartaches

And all the things that we've been through

Then I wonder how much longer

And what a workingman can do.

 

We will have to join the union

They will help us find a way

How to get a better living

And for our work get better pay.

 

Really, friends, it doesn't matter

Whether we are black or white

The only way we'll ever change things

Is to fight and fight and fight

Is to fight and fight and fight.


Come On, Friends, and Let's Go Down 


Sarah Ogan Gunning

"Come On Friends and Let's Go Down" (karaoke)

"Come On, Friends, and Let's Go Down" (sheet music)


Come on, friends, and let's go down, let's go down, let's go down.

Come on, friends, and let's go down, down on the picket line.

 

As I went down on the picket line to keep them scabs out of the mine,

Who is going to win the strike, come on and we'll show you the way.

 

Come on, friends, and let's go down, let's go down, let's go down.

Come on, friends, and let's go down, down on the picket line.

 

Went out one morning before daylight, and I was sure we'd have a fight,

But the cap't'list scurvy'd run away, and we went back the very next day.

 

Come on, friends, and let's go down, let's go down, let's go down.

Come on, friends, and let's go down, down on the picket line.

 

We all went out on the railroad track to meet them scabs and turn them back.

We win that strike, I'm glad to say, come on and we'll show you the way.

 

Come on, friends, and let's go down, let's go down, let's go down.

Come on, friends, and let's go down, down on the picket line.


New York Mining Disaster, 1941 (Chumbawamba) 


Chumbawamba

"New York Mining Disaster, 1941" (karaoke)

"New York Mining Disaster, 1941" (sheet music)


In the event of something happening to me,

There is something I would like you all to see.

It’s just a photograph of someone that I knew.

 

Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?

Do you know what it’s like on the outside?

Don’t go talking too loud; you’ll cause a landslide,

Mr. Jones.

 

I keep straining my ears to hear a sound.

Maybe someone is digging underground.

Or have they given up and all gone home to bed

Thinking those that once existed must be dead?

 

Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?

Do you know what it’s like on the outside?

Don’t go talking too loud; you’ll cause a landslide,

Mr. Jones.

 

In the event of something happening to me,

There is something I would like you all to see.

It’s just a photograph of someone that I knew.

 

Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?

Do you know what it’s like on the outside?

Don’t go talking too loud; you’ll cause a landslide,

Mr. Jones.


I Never Go to Work (They Might Be Giants) 


They Might Be Giants

"I Never Go to Work" (karaoke)

"I Never Go to Work" (sheet music)


Oh no, no, I never go to work

Oh no, no, I never go to work

Oh no, no, I never go to work

Oh no, no, I never go to work

 

On Mondays, I never go to work

On Tuesdays, I stay at home

On Wednesdays, I never feel inclined

Work is the last thing on my mind

On Thursdays, it's a holiday!

And Fridays I detest

Oh it's much too late on a Saturday

And Sunday is the day of rest

 

Oh yes, yes, practice trumpet every day

Oh yes, yes, practice trumpet every day

Oh yes, yes, practice trumpet every day

Oh yes, yes, practice trumpet every day

 

Practice Monday

Practice Tuesday

Practice Wednesday

Practice Thursday

And Friday

And I practiced all night on Saturday

So on Sundays I played best

 

Oh no, no, I never go to work

Oh no, no, I never go to work

Oh no, no, I never go to work

Oh no, no, I never go to work

 

On Mondays, I never go to work

On Tuesdays, I stay at home

On Wednesdays, I never feel inclined

Work is the last thing on my mind

On Thursdays, it's a holiday!

And Fridays I detest

Oh it's much too late on a Saturday

And Sunday is the day of rest

 

It's the day of rest!


They Might Be Giants 


They Might Be Giants is an American alternative rock band formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell.


“A recurring theme in TMBG’s songs, particularly those written by Flansburgh, seems to be a general disdain for or hatred of work (especially desk jobs).”

—http://tmbw.net/wiki/Aversion_To_Work


I Never Go to Work


 

Plains of Maralinga (Alistair Hulett) 


Alistair Hulett

"Plains of Maralinga" (karaoke)

"Plains of Maralinga" (sheet music)


Remember in the old days how we sucked up to the Poms?

We stood and sang their anthem like a pack of Uncle Toms.

And they bought our beef and wool, so we let them test their bombs

In the heartland of Australia, where the black-skinned nation roams.

 

There was nothing in the papers about what was being done.

If Robert Menzies knew, by Christ, he wasn’t letting on,

For he loved his flaming knighthood, that great Australian son,

Much more than he loved the land, where the Pitjantjatjara run.

 

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

What happened there was a bloody disgrace!

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

‘Twas total disregard for the black Australian race!

 

No one asked the local people if they thought it was okay.

If you haven’t got a job, mate, you haven’t got a say.

Oh, and if we lost a few, they were only in the way.

If they’d been white, then, bet your backside, there’d’ve been holy shit to pay.

 

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

What happened there was a bloody disgrace!

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

‘Twas total disregard for the black Australian race!

 

They said fallout was harmless; they knew that was a lie.

But it never slowed them up when there were people camped close by

Who tell a story how they saw a big flash in the sky.

Then, they all got sick, and one by one began to slowly die.

 

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

What happened there was a bloody disgrace!

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

‘Twas total disregard for the black Australian race!

 

Now, the sun set on the Empire; many never thought it would.

And now, your Uncle Sam controls the neighborhood.

In the name of peace and justice, he swears he’s Robin Hood,

But in Chile and El Salvador, the truth is understood.

 

He’s got bureaucrats and technocrats, diplomats and spies,

Working for the Pentagon; they’re its bloody nose and eyes.

But you’ll only feel disheartened until you realize,

When the workers of the world unite, we’ll be twice their bloody size!

 

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

What happened there was a bloody disgrace!

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

‘Twas total disregard for the black Australian race!

 

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

What happened there was a bloody disgrace!

Out on the plains of Maralinga,

‘Twas total disregard for the whole human race!


 

Old King Coal (Alistair Hulett) 


Alistair Hulett

"Old King Coal" (karaoke)

"Old King Coal" (sheet music)


Under the ground lay Old King Coal,

And he lay most peacefully.

He ruled in might and splendor.

There was none so proud as he.

But men came along to tunnel him out

And rip him from his throne.

They tore him down to steal his crown

For the pow'r in the old black stone.

 

There's fire in the heart of Old King Coal.

There's the strength of centuries in his soul.

There's a fire that grows where his black blood flows.

So, here's to Old King Coal.

 

They scratched him and hacked him and harried him out.

They ripped him from his bed.

They busted his bones asunder.

They swore they'd see him dead.

Then, they carried him out to the sun's bright light,

Which blinded him in the eye.

And the blood did drain from ev'ry vein

Until they'd drained him dry.

 

There's fire in the heart of Old King Coal.

There's the strength of centuries in his soul.

There's a fire that grows where his black blood flows.

So, here's to Old King Coal.

 

They cracked his bones on the grinding stones.

How gleefully they did grind.

Oh, how they pulverized him,

Turned him to dust so fine.

Then, they sprayed him into the furnace fire

And burned him in the air.

With a mighty blast, they burned him fast,

As he prayed his final prayer.

 

There's fire in the heart of Old King Coal.

There's the strength of centuries in his soul.

There's a fire that grows where his black blood flows.

So, here's to Old King Coal.

 

And his soul cried out with a final shout,

As he reached his final hour.

And his heart, it burst with singing.

So mighty was the pow'r.

And he sang the water into steam,

And the steam made the wheels spin 'round.

And the song went on so pure and strong

'Til the wires hummed with its sound.

 

There's fire in the heart of Old King Coal.

There's the strength of centuries in his soul.

There's a fire that grows where his black blood flows.

So, here's to Old King Coal.

 

Out of the darkness, there comes light,

And out of the earth comes fire.

Out of the cold comes comfort,

As his bones go blazing higher.

And his soul flies up through the air we breathe

And down to the earth we tread

That humankind may not forget

That Old King Coal is dead.

 

There's fire in the heart of Old King Coal.

There's the strength of centuries in his soul.

There's a fire that grows where his black blood flows.

So, here's to Old King Coal.


 

Cotton Mill Girls (Hedy West) 


Hedy West

"Cotton Mill Girls" (karaoke)

"Cotton Mill Girls" (sheet music)


I’ve worked in the cotton mill all of my life,

And I ain’t got nothin’ but a Barlow knife.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

In 1915, we heard it said,

“Move to the country and get ahead.”

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

Us kids work 12 hours a day

For 14 cents of measly pay.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

Ev’ry morning just at 5:00,

You gotta get up, dead or alive.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

Ain’t it enough to break your heart?

Hafta work all day, and at night, it’s dark.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

When I die, don’t bury me at all.

Just, pickle my bones in alcohol.

Hang me up on the spinning room wall.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.

 

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times, cotton mill girls.

It’s hard times ev’rywhere.


 

The Bosses' Darling (Jean Hart) 


Jean Hart

"The Bosses' Darling" (karaoke)

"The Bosses' Darling" (sheet music)


O, come along girls, to the factory,

The production line is turning.

If you work all day for the minimum pay,

God knows what you’ll be earning.

Get stuck in as you arrive

To keep your family alive.

At the end of the week, you’ll just survive

To be the bosses’ darling.

 

Your patience and dexterity,

They’re endlessly adoring.

They say you’re suited for the job,

Which means the job is boring.

You think you’re getting equal pay,

But they have found a million ways

To keep you at the bottom of the heap

‘Cause you’re the bosses’ darling.

 

The bosses love you well, you bet;

They know that you’ll be loyal.

You’re a breeding ground for the working man

And a resting place from toil.

You have no time for the union:

You leave that kind of thing to men.

You’re a second-class worker and a mother hen.

That’s why you’re the bosses’ darling.

 

These days, we’re getting organized;

This time, we won’t be beaten.

It’s, “You lend a hand with the frying pan,

I’m off to a union meetin.’

You scabs who cross our picket line,

Remember, you’ll get yours in time.

The enemy’s the same, yours and mine:

The scab’s the bosses’ darling.”