Henry's Songbook

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The Hobo's Lullaby

  • (Goebel Reeves)

    Go to sleep, you weary hobo
    And let the towns drift slowly by
    Can't you hear the steel rails humming
    And that's the hobo's lullaby

    Though your clothes are torn and ragged
    And your hair is turning grey
    Soon you'll be in a nice warm boxcar
    Free among the new mown hay

    And though policemen they cause you trouble
    And they cause trouble everywhere
    When you die and you go to Heaven
    Then you'll find no policemen there

    So stand up my people sing of freedom
    Never you mind what's over yonder hill
    You just stand up sing your songs of freedom
    And always remember old Joe Hill

    (as sung by Danny Kyle)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1980:] [Woody Guthrie had] considered hopping a freight at first, but shelved that idea after an Okemah friend, Miles Reynolds, lost a leg when he fell between two boxcars [...]. Still, he did spend a lot of time in the hobo camps at the edge of railroad yards on his way south. Invariably, they'd have a fire going and a stew bubbling, and wouldn't be averse to sharing it. More often than not, the hoboes were simply migratory farm workers moving on to the next job. An estimated 200,000 followed the wheat harvest north across the plains each summer, and thousands of others were fruit pickers, cowboys, and boomers. It was a pretty dreary life, but they developed an elaborate mythology and customs to make it more palatable. [...] They made up songs about life on the bum: some dripping with overripe romanticism, but others with a rough honesty that cut through the myths ... and Woody soaked it all in. He spent the early part of the summer of 1929 on the road, nibbling at the edge of hobo culture, but never really becoming part of it. (Klein, Woody Guthrie 43f)

  • [1993:] Goebel Reeves' classic is best known as Woody Guthrie's favourite song. It's been sung by tons of folks, including Wisconsin songwriter Larry Penn who has this to say:

    "Better it were left to sociologists to point out parallels between today's homelessness and the rise of the railroad bum. Some become apparent on consideration of the shifts in the national economy and the fact that once there were as many as forty railroads in and out of Chicago alone. The hobo population (no census can be taken) is estimated to have reached well in excess of a million during the Great Depression. Sympathy for the 'bos among the general population was no doubt akin to sympathy for today's vagabonds. Clearly, hobos were never popular with the railroads. Most made it a practice to hire "bulls" who were born cruel to police the property. No wonder hobos got weary." (Sing Out 38/2)

  • [1998:] Goebel Reeves, a.k.a. The Texas Drifter, was a true hero, a songwriter, hobo, yodeller and member of the IWW (The Industrial Workers of the World), continuously battling with the Railroad Police and the Scabs at factory gates using just his songs.I got the last verse from an old 'Wobbly' on a Greyhound bus journey between Seattle and Portland, Oregon. (Notes Danny Kyle, 'Heroes and Soft Targets')

  • Tune: Just Before the Battle, Mother

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the leaving of Lothar Mathäus ; Bayern München - Real Madrid 4:1
 Sammlung : Susanne Kalweit (Kiel)
Layout : Henry Kochlin  (Schwerin)

aktualisiert am 08.03.2000