Talking Sailor

Written by Woody Guthrie and recorded for Moses Asch in New York City, April 16-May 8, 1944. Woody had spent most of 1943 in the Merchant Marine serving on the William B. Travis. The song, also known as "Talking Merchant Marine," is included in the album, "That's Why We're Marching: World War II and the American Folk Song Movement," (Smithsonian/Folkways 1996).

In bed with my woman, just singin' the blues,
Heard the radio tellin' the news:
That the big Red Army took a hundred towns,
And Allies droppin' them two-ton bombs.
Started hollerin', yellin', dancin' up and down like a bullfrog!

Doorbell rung and in come a man,
I signed my name, I got a telegram.
Said, "If you wanna take a vacation trip,
Got a dish-washin' job on a Liberty ship."
Woman a-cryin', me a-flyin', out the door and down the line!

'Bout two minutes I run ten blocks,
I come to my ship, down at the dock;
Walked up the plank, and I signed my name,
Blowed that whistle, was gone again!
Right on out and down the stream, ships as fur as my eye could see, woman a-waitin'.

Ship loaded down with TNT
All out across the rollin' sea;
Stood on the deck, watched the fishes swim,
I'se a-prayin' them fish wasn't made out of tin.
Sharks, porpoises, jellybeans, rainbow trouts, mudcats, jugars, all over that water.

This convoy's the biggest I ever did see,
Stretches all the way out across the sea;
And the ships blow the whistles and a-rang her bells,
Gonna blow them fascists all to hell!
Win some freedom, liberty, stuff like that.

Walked to the tail, stood on the stern,
Lookin' at the big brass screw blade turn;
Listened to the sound of the engine pound,
Gained sixteen feet every time it went around.
Gettin' closer and closer, look out, you fascists.

I'm just one of the merchant crew,
I belong to the union called the N. M. U.
I'm a union man from head to toe,
I'm U. S. A. and C. I. O.
Fightin' out here on the waters to win some freedom on the land.

Sources:


revised 3/20/07 by Steven Schoenherr | Songs