Hallelujah I’m a Bum

Most likely written by Harry “Haywire” Mclintock, this is a popular Wobbly (IWW) song. As often with the Wobblies the tune was taken from a protestant hymn tune, in this case “Revive Us Again”. It was published in the IWW’s little red Songbook in 1908 and the Spokane branch adopted it as their anthem, their successes in the Free Speech Fights of 1909 helped give it wider popularity. The tune tells a sarcastic tale of the moralistic complaints a hobo might hear in their travels.

Michael Hotkowski

Why don’t you work like other folks do?
How can I get a job when you’re holding down two?

Hallelujah, I’m a bum,
Hallelujah, bum again,
Hallelujah, give us a handout
To revive us again.

Oh, why don’t you save all the money you earn?
If I didn’t eat, I’d have money to burn.

Whenever I get all the money I earn,
The boss will be broke, and to work he must turn.

Oh, I like my boss, he’s a good friend of mine,
That’s why I am starving out on the bread line.

I went to a house and I knocked on the door;
The lady comes out and says, “You’ve been here before”

I went to that house and I asked for some bread
The lady said “Scram bum the baker is dead!”

She pulls out a whistle and I run for my life!
Well, wouldn’t you know, it’s the constable’s wife

I went to a bar* and asked for a drink
They gave me a glass and they showed me the sink

Come all you workers and listen to me
Let’s organize and we all will be free!.

* When home at the Griswold Inn this line is “I went to the Griz…”