The Songs He Sang
Bonneville Dam: Lyrics
As performed by Cisco Houston
Woody GuthrieAppears on:
Back in nineteen thirty-three Old dust storms was a-killing me Nineteen hundred thirty-four Dust had rose and blown some more Nineteen hundred thirty-five Figured I was lucky just to be alive Nineteen hundred thirty-six Me and my wife in a hell of a fix Nineteen hundred thirty-nine Fanned our tails to the Oregon line Oregon line, Oregon line, Fanned our tails to the Oregon line Now there ain't no country extra-fine If you're just a mile from the end of the line You're just a mile from the end of the line You're just a mile from the end of the line My eyes is crossed My back is cramped Trying to read the Bible By the coal-oil lamp I'll turn my stone and till my land Waiting for the big Bonneville Dam That Bonneville Dam is a sight to see Makes that e-lec-a-tric-i-ty E-lec-a-tric-i-ty Makes that e-lec-a-tric-i-ty
One of the things most interesting about Woody and Cisco's joint ventures is their amazingly politically incorrect environmental attitudes. These guys, who lived through very hard times, and knew what it was like to go without, appreciated and were grateful for dams, electricity, barges, gasoline, mining and progress.
Notes from the Folk Song & Minstrelsy Set
In 1941 the Bonneville Power Administration commissioned Woody Guthrie to write some songs about the new Columbia River dams that were bringing great changes to the Pacific Northwest. Woody was delighted with this assignment. He later wrote that his job was "To walk around and up and down the rivers, to see what I could find to make up songs about. I'm one walker that's stood way up and looked way down, across plenty of pretty sights in all their veiled and nakedest seasons.Thumbing it. Hitching it. Walking it and talking it. Chalking it. Marking it. Sighting it and hearing it. Seeing and feeling and breathing and smelling it in." Including "Bonneville Dam", Woody wrote 26 songs in 30 days about the Columbia River projects.