The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #6445   Message #37489
Posted By: Gene
08-Sep-98 - 07:15 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Talking Union
Subject: Lyr Add: TALKING UNION (from Pete Seeger)
As recorded by: Pete Seeger
Writers: Mill Lampell, Lee Hayes & Pete Seeger

INTRO: (Spoken)
This song was written by Mill Lampell,
Lee Hayes and yours truly, Peter Seeger,
in the spring of 1941.

That was the year that Henry Ford was being
organized into the CIO. And Woody Guthrie had taught
the three of us the old Talking Blues, you know: ...

If you wanta get to heaven
Let me tell you what to do
Got to grease your feet
And little muttons too.

And I think Mill, it was, thought of paraphrasing that
and Lee added a verse and I add a verse and suddenly
we had the song almost completed, except that we hadn't
found any solution.

We'd, all we done is add up the problems,
that we hadn't found how to solve any of them.

And about a month went by ... one day I was sitting
up on the roof and realized that, uh, there's only
one solution to it... We all wanta stick together.

So I made two verses to end it off, none of them rhymed
and that's how the song talking union was born.

Now you want higher wages let me tell you what to do
Go to talk to the workers in the shop with you
You got to build you a union, got to make it strong
But if you all stick together boys, twon't be long

You get shorter hours
Better workin' conditions
Vacations with pay
Take your kids to the seashore

Course it ain't quite that simple, so I'd better explain
Just why you got to ride on the union train
'Cause if you wait for the boss to raise your pay
We'll all be waiting till judgement day

We'll all be buried
Gone to heaven
St. Peter'll be the straw boss then, boys

Now you know you're underpaid but the boss says you ain't
He speeds up the work 'til you're 'bout to faint
You may be down and out, but you ain't beaten
Pass out a leaflet, call a meetin'

Talk it over
Speak your mind
Decide to do something about it.

'Cos the boss may persuade some poor dam fool
To go to your meeting and act like a stool
But you can always tell a stool, though, that's a fact
He's got a yellow streak a-running down his back

He doesn't have to stool, you know
He'll always make a good livin'
On what he takes out of blind men's cups

Well, you got a union now, you're sitting pretty;
Put some of the boys on the steering committee
The boss won't listen if one guy squawks
But he's got to listen if the union talks

He'd better
He'll be mighty lonely one of these days.

Suppose he's workin' you so hard it's just outrageous
Payin' you all starvation wages
You go to the boss, the boss would yell:
"Before I raise your pay, I see you all in hell!"

Well he's puffin' a big seegar, feelin' mightly slick
Thinks he's got your union licked
He looks out of the window and what does he see
But a thousand pickets and they all agree

He's a bastard!
Slave driver!
Bet he beats his own wife!

Now boys you've come to the hardest time
The boss'll try to bust your picket line
He'll call out the police, the national guard
Tell you it's a crime to have a union card

They'll raid your meetings, hit you on the head
Call ev'ryone of you a 'goddamn red' -
You're unpatriotic
Moscow Agents
Bomb throwers
Even the kids

Well, out in Detroit, here's what they found
Down in Pittsburg, here's what they found
Down in Bethlehem, here's what the found
Out in 'Frisco, here's what they found
That if you don't let 'red baiting' break you up
If you don't let stool pigeons break you up
If you don't let race hatred break you up
If you don't let vigilantes break you up

You'll win
What I mean
Take it easy
But take it!

SOURCE: Pete Seeger's Greatest Hits
Columbia CL-9416