Crooked Jack

Words by Dominic Behan, melody commonly ascribed as “traditional”.  Irishmen coming to America looking for work and a freer life were all too often obligated to take hard labour jobs such as building the railroad or, in this case, large dams for power source.


.          Em                     G                 D
Come Irishmen both young and stern

.             Em                       D
With adventure in your soul

.                 Em                     G                  D
There are better ways to spend your days

.             Em         D            Em
Than in working down a hole


.          G                                D
I was tall and true, all of 6 foot 2

.                Em                               D
But they broke me across the back

.       Em                                         G           D
By a name I’m known, but it’s not my own

.         Em         D             Em
They call me Crooked Jack


The ganger’s blue-eyed boy
Big Jack could do no wrong
And the reason simply was because
I could work hard hours and long

I’ve seen men old before their time
Their faces drawn and gray
But I never thought so soon would mine
Be lined the self-same way

I cursed the day I went away
To work on the hydro dams
Our sweat and tears, our hopes and fears
Bound up in shuttering jams

They say that honest toil is good
For the spirit and the soul
But believe me boys it’s for sweat and blood
That they want you down the hole

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