BOOMTOWN BILL

(WOODY GUTHRIE; tune: "WABASH CANNONBALL") (1942)


THE ALMANAC SINGERS, 1942: BESS HAWES, PETE SEEGER, MILLARD LAMPELL, WOODY GUTHRIE, ARTHUR STERN, SIS CUNNINGHAM (left to right)

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On commission, Woody wrote the rousing "Boomtown Bill" for the Oil Workers Union. "But in the studio," Pete [Seeger] said, "either I pronounced the words clearer, or had more stamina for rehearsal after rehearsal. After a number of takes, Woody said, 'Pete, you better try this. I can't seem to do it.'"

David Dunaway, How Can I Keep From Singing: Pete Seeger, New York, NY, 1990, pp. 103-104.

Lyrics as recorded by THE ALMANAC SINGERS, New York, NY, Jun 1942, and reprinted in Ronald D. Cohen & Dave Samuelson, liner notes for "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996, p. 105
(Minor corrections by Manfred Helfert).

ORIGINAL ISSUE: Keynote K-5000-A, 1942.
[PETE SEEGER, lead vocal]

Come all you oil field workers and listen to my tale
I worked for Drake in '59, way back in Titusville
The state called Pennsylvania in the Allegheny field
I've chased the oil fields ever since, my name is Boomtown Bill.

I've worked in wind and weather of rain and sleet and snow
Yes, I done all the work, folks, but John D. got the dough
I don't like them company unions and, I know, I never will
I'm C.I.O. from head to toe, my name is Boomtown Bill.

I got my C.I.O. card of which I'm mighty proud
Whatever I believe in, I like to holler loud
I don't like your company union 'cause it just don't fill the bill
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O. and my name is Boomtown Bill.
I've polished bits in Texas from the ocean to the plain
Worked every field in the 48 states, and half way back again
And now we're fighting in a war, the oil has got to flow
And the best way to beat Hitler is to join the C.I.O.

Across the rolling ocean, the whole wide world around
There's union workers fighting to tear old Hitler down
Yes, I'm an oil field worker and a soldier in my field
I'll fight to save our oil fields, my name is Boomtown Bill.

I got my C.I.O. card of which I'm mighty proud
Whatever I believe in, I like to holler loud
I don't like your company union 'cause it just don't fill the bill
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O. and my name is Boomtown Bill.
I've got a lot of work to do and a great big war to win
I'll take my pipewrench back to work and see you all again
The C.I.O.'s the best I know from the wildcat to the still,
So work and fight for what is right, and remember Boomtown Bill.
I got my C.I.O. card of which I'm mighty proud
Whatever I believe in, I like to holler loud
I don't like your company union 'cause it just don't fill the bill
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O. and my name is Boomtown Bill.

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