THE FARMER-LABOR TRAIN (WOODY GUTHRIE; tune: "WABASH CANNONBALL") (1944)


CISCO HOUSTON & WOODY GUTHRIE (c. 1944)


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"Farmer-Labor Train" is Guthrie's call for farmers and laborers to organize a political party. In June 1948 "People's Songs" felt the song was ideal for Henry Wallace's third-party Presidential campaign. It printed the song as Guthrie sang it in a twelve-page songbook, "Songs for Wallace." The second edition of that book was issued two months later, after Senator Glen Taylor was chosen as Wallace's running mate. The new edition replaces "farmer-labor" with "Wallace-Taylor."
Ronald D. Cohen & Dave Samuelson, liner notes for "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996, p. 114.


As recorded by Woody Guthrie (with Cisco Houston) for Moses Asch, New York, NY, prob. Apr 16-May 8, 1944; unissued Smithsonian aluminum based acetate disc 047 (no date or matrix number); reissued on "Long Ways to Travel: The Unreleased Folkways Masters," Smithsonian/Folkways SF CD 40046, 1994, and "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996; lyrics as reprinted (with minor corrections by Manfred Helfert) on p. 123 of liner notes.


From the high Canadian Rockies to the land of Mexico,
City and the country, wherever you may go,
Through the wild and windy weather, the sun and sleet and rain,
Comes a-whistlin' through the country this Farmer-Labor train.
Listen to the jingle and the rumble and the roar,
She's rollin' through New England to the West Pacific shore.
It's a long time we've been waitin', now she's been whistlin' 'round the bend,
Roll on into Congress on that Farmer-Labor train.
[TRAIN WHISTLE IMITATION]
There's lumberjacks and teamsters and sailors from the sea,
There's farmin' boys from Texas and the hills of Tennessee,
There's miners from Kentucky, there's fishermen from Maine; Every worker in the country rides that Farmer-Labor train.

There's warehouse boys and truckers and guys that skin the cats,
Men that run the steel mills, the furnace and the blast,
Through the smoky factory cities, o'er the hot and dusty plains,
And the cushions they are crowded, on this Farmer-Labor train.

Listen to the jingle and the rumble and the roar,
She's rollin' through New England to the West Pacific shore.
It's a long time we've been waitin', now she's been whistlin' 'round the bend,
Ride on on into Congress on that Farmer-Labor train.
[HARMONICA TRAIN WHISTLE IMITATION]
There's folks of every color and they're ridin' side by side
Through the swamps of Louisiana and across the Great Divide,
From the wheat fields and the orchards and the lowing cattle range,
And they're rolling onto victory on this Farmer-Labor train.

This train pulled into Washington a bright and happy day,
When she steamed into the station you could hear the people say:
"There's that Farmer-Labor Special, she's full of union men
Headin' onto White House on the Farmer-Labor train."


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