Cisco Houston Web Site

The Songs He Sang

Bonneville Dam: Lyrics

As performed by Cisco Houston

Woody Guthrie

Appears 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
Makes that e-lec-a-tric-i-ty

Of note:

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.

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