Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

The Great American Bum Song (from my father’s memory bank)

THE GREAT AMERICAN BUM SONG

Come all you jolly jokers,
and listen while I hum,
The story I'll relate to you
of the Great American Bum.

From the East to West,
From North to South,
Like a swarm of bees they come
They sleep in the dirt, and wear a shirt
That's dirty and full of crumbs!

From the boxcar and the hay-stack,
He gazes everywhere,
And never turns back upon his track
Until he gets a square! [meal]

Standing in the railroad yard
waitin' for a train--
Waitin' for an East bound freight,
but I think it's all in vain.
Going' East they're loaded,
Goin' West, sealed tight!
I think I'll have to get aboard
A fast express tonight!

I met a man the other day
I never had met before,
He asked me if I wanted a job
shovelin' iron ore.
I asked him what the wages were,
He said: "Ten cents a ton."
I said: "Oh, fella, go chase yourself,
I'd rather be a bum."

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  1. I had the original record until 1953 . On one side it was the bum's song, on the other was Halleluiah I'm a bum. The first two lines of the third verse go: Oh, it's early in the morning ere the dew is off the ground , The bum arises from his nest and gazes all around. From the box car etc.... It is a great American folk song which few Americans know these days.

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