East Texas Red
by Woody Guthrie
Note: When I read the third lesson from Mr. Egan, I thought this would
be a good submission. It uses the exact waltz mmm- pa- pa strumming
that he describes. I just learned it from "Folkways" which is an album
saluting Woodie Guthrie and Leadbelly. The song is actually sung on the
album by Woody Guthrie's son Arlo, and may be more of a folk song than
country, but its close enough, and hopefully not too obscure. And I
thought the Archive could use a Woody Guthrie song. Once again, the key
is relative to my vocal range and may not be the same as Mr. Guthrie's.
E A E
Down in the scrub oak timbers, Of the South East Texas Gulf,
There used to ride a brakeman, And the brakeman double tough.
E A E
He worked the town of Kilgore, And Longview, nine miles down,
A E B E
And us travellers called him East Texas Red, The meanest bull around.
If you rode by night or broad daylight, In the wind, in the snow and
You'd always see little East Texas Red, Sporting his smooth running gun.
The tail got switched by stems and the mains, And everybody said
That the meanest man on the shiny irons Was little East Texas Red.
It was early in the morning, And along towards nine or ten,
When a couple of boys on the hunt of a job Stood in the blizzardy wind.
Hungry and cold they knocked on the doors Of the working folks around
For a piece of meat or a spud or two To boil their stew around.
Red come down the cinder dump, And he flagged down Number Two,
He kicked their bucket over a bush And dumped out all of their stew.
One traveller said "Mr. East Texas Red, You better get yo' business
Because your gonna ride your little black train Just one year from
Red just laughed as he climbed the bank And swung on the side of a
The boys caught a tanker to Seminole, And westward to Amarillo.
They struck them a job of oil field work And they followed the pipeline
And it took them lots of places till One year had rolled around.
On one cold and wintery day They hooked them a Gulf bound train.
They shivered and they shook with dough in their clothes, To ol' Kilgore
Over hills of sand and the hard frozen roads Where the cottons wagons
Out past the town of Kilgore And on to ol' Longview.
With their warm suits of clothes and their overcoats, They walked into a
They paid the man for some meat and spuds, And boiled their stew once
They walked the ties back to the yard, And they came to the same ol'
Were East Texas Red had one year ago Dumped their last stew pot.
The smoke from their fire went higher and higher, And a man come down
He ducked his head in the blizzardy wind, And waved ol' Number nine.
He walked on down the cinder dump And he come to the same ol' spot,
And there was the same two men again Around that same stew pot.
Red went to his knees and he hollered "Please, Don't pull that trigger
I never did get my business fixed." But he never got a say.
A gun wheeled out of an overcoat, And the blade, he owed one too,
Then Red lay dead, while the other two men Sat down to eat their stew.