The Great Depression

 

Although Mississippi was not as affected as other states by the drought conditions that created the "Dust Bowl,"  it was a victim of the depressed economic conditions.  This song was written by Woody Guthrie, an Oklahoman whose 'roots music' of the common man came into being in that era.

Some thirty years after Guthrie experienced life in the Depression, his songs took on folk music status.  Unfortunately, Guthrie embraced socialistic politics as his view of the way to prevent similar economic hardship in the future.   This resulted in his being an avid opponent of Fascism and he served in both the Merchant Marine and the Army at different points during WWII.  After the war, he returned to his music but over a period of years, during which he advocated loudly for unions and other socialistic organizations, he began to show loss of control of some mental and physical faculties.  Following a series of misdiagnoses in the early 50s, he was finally correctly diagnosed as having Huntington's Chorea, a debilitating  genetic condition that had incapacitated his mother many years earlier.  He entered the hospital for treatment for the first time in 1954 but lived with the worsening conditions of the disease for 13 more years, during which time he became less and less able to make public appearances and perform.  During the anti-Communist period of the 50s, his politics had resulted in him being made a persona non grata  in most public arenas so that his music was heard only where a large percentage of the clientele shared in Guthrie's politics.

During the 60s, the increase in the popularity of folk music resulted in a large new 'crop' of performers that drew on older, but not necessarily traditional folk music, for their repertoires.  Guthrie is probably most famous as the creator of the song "This Land is Your Land" that most every folk performer did at some point in their careers.  The song shown here, though relatively new in the context of what normally defines folk music, has been arranged and performed a variety of ways since Guthrie created it.  No one can be certain that the words commonly sung to the tune have remained entirely intact from Guthrie's original.  The text below is, therefore, one version of how the song has been done.

Do-Re-Mi

(Woody Guthrie)

 

Well, lots of folks back East they say

Are leavin’ home most everyday,

Hittin’ the hard old dusty trail to California-Land.

Out across the sands they roll,

Gettin’ out of the old dust-bowl.

Think they’re going to a sugar bowl, here’s what they find:

For the police at the port of entry say,

You’re number 14 thousand for today –

 

Chorus 1:

If you ain’t got the do-re-mi, boys

If you ain’t got the do-re-mi

Better go back to beautiful Texas

Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee

California’s a garden of Eden

A paradise to live in or see.

But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot

If you ain’t got the do-re-mi.

 

Now you can buy a home or a farm,

That can’t do nobody harm.

Take your vacation by the mountains or the sea.

But you’d better not swap your cow for a car,

Better stay right where you are.

Better take this little tip from me:

‘Cause I look through the want ads every day

And the headlines on the papers always say –

 

Chorus 2:

If you ain’t got the do-re-mi, boys

If you ain’t got the do-re-mi

Better go back to beautiful Texas

Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee

California’s a garden of Eden

A paradise for you and for me.

But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot

If you ain’t got the do-re-mi.

 

Want to hear what the song sounds like?  Here's a rough, home-recorded version that sounds half-way decent.  Click the link to open the file in your player; right-click and select "Save Target As" to save it to your hard drive for later.  Note:  Playing the song as streaming audio may not work and is definitely not recommended for anyone but users of a high-speed connection.  The MP3 file is slightly over 5 meg in size.

Do-Re-Mi

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