BOOMTOWN BILL (PRINTED VERSION)

(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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Around early June 1942, ...the Fort Worth-based Oil Workers International Union commissioned the group [The Almanac Singers] to write and record two songs that reinforced union sentiments with a win-the-war message.... In several days Guthrie produced two suitable songs, Boomtown Bill and Keep That Oil A-Rollin'....
[Edwin S.] Smith [the Oil Workers Organizing Campaign's director] suggested changes to enhance their appeal. Boomtown Bill, set to the tune of Wabash Cannonball, contained too much terminology which lessened its spontaneity,

Guthrie agreed to revise both songs.

Ronald D. Cohen & Dave Samuelson, liner notes for "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996, p. 96.

Lyrics as reprinted in Pete Seeger (ed.), Woody Guthrie Folk Songs, London, 1973, pp. 18-19.
1963 Ludlow Music Inc., New York, NY

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

Come all you oilfield workers and listen to my tale,
I worked for Drake in '59, way back in Titusville;
'Twas the state called Pennsylvania, 'twas that Alleghaney [SIC] field;
Been chasin' oil fields ever since, and my name is Boomtown Bill.
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O., and my name is Boomtown Bill.

I held down jobs of roustybout, roughneck and driller too;
Coke knocker, guager [SIC], fireman, and I backed that casing crew;
Fought fires with Happy Yowell, I'm sure you know him well;
I've worked that cross and cracking still, and my name is Boomtown Bill.
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O., and my name is Boomtown Bill.

I've worked in wildest weather, both rain and sleet and snow,
I done all the dirty jobs, but John Dee got my dough.
I don't like his company union, and I know I never will;
I'm C.I.O. from head to toe, my name is Boomtown Bill.
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O., and my name is Boomtown Bill.

Them walking beams and rotaries; I know my rigs by heart;
I put your Kelly in your Rathole, Take your Christmas Tree apart;
Gotta war ta lick them fascist rats: This black oil's got to flow;
Best way t'beat these nazis is t'join the C.I. 0.
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O., and my name is Boomtown Bill.

I lit in Oklahoma in that boom called Seminole;
Slushed mud in Louisiana down along that black Bayou;
I bailed my shale from Illinois to the west coast Signal Hill;
Every town I go, I'm C.I.0, and my name is Boomtown Bill.
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O., and my name is Boomtown Bill.

I polished my bit in Texas dust; both these oceans and cross y'r plains;
Worked every field in forty nine states, and I'm halfway back again;
Ten million C.I.0. workers justt natch'lly cain't be wrong;
We'll fight and win that union way, and I know it won't take long.
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O., and my name is Boomtown Bill.

Across this rolling ocean, and this whole wide world around,
My union brethren and sistren They're beatin' old race hate down;
Yes, I'm an oil field worker, I'm a soldier in my field,
I'm a-gonna bring peace to my oil field; sure's my name's Boomtown Bill.
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O., and my name is Boomtown Bill.

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