Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Union Prayer of Woody Guthrie

— photo © Mark Butkus 2019
Old Mutualista Union Hall in Guadalajara, Mexico.

I hear that prayer and praying
Will change this world around
I fold my hands I bow my head
I kneel down on the ground

I prayed and prayed by nite and day
And then I prayed some more
I prayed till my tongue was dry as dust
I prayed till my knees had sores.

Will prayer change shacks to decent homes?
Will prayer change sickness into health?
Will prayer change hate to works of love?
Will prayer get me my right to vote?

Will prayer give jobs at honest pay?
Will prayer bring stomach full of food?
Will prayer make rich treat poor folks right?
Will prayer take out the Ku Klux Klan?

Will prayer cut down the hoodlum bands?
Will prayer stop the lynchbug hands?
If all of these things my prayers can do,
I’ll pray till I am black and blue.

If prayer will bring us union love,
I’ll pray and pray and pray some more.
I’ll pray all day from door to door
And fall at nite to pray some more
My prayer with a union label.

— Woody Guthrie

An American minstrel, Woody Guthrie sang about the plight of the working poor, often times performing in camps of migrant workers during the Great Depression. Curiously, Union Prayer was not recorded until 2012 on the three volume set, Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions by Billy Bragg & Wilco.

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