Cisco Houston Web Site

The Songs He Sang

Do Re Mi: Lyrics

As performed by Cisco Houston

Woody Guthrie

Appears on:
Well, thousands of folks back east, they say,
   are leavin' home most ev'ry day,
And they're beatin' the hot old dusty way
   to the California line.
'Cross the desert sands they roll,
   a-getting out of that old dust bowl,
And they think they're going to a sugar bowl,
   here's what they find:
The police at the port of entry say,
   "You're number fourteen thousand for today."

If you ain't got the do-re-mi, boys,
   if you ain't got the do-re-mi,
Well you'd better go back to beautiful Texas,
   Oklahoma, Georgia, Kansas, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden,
   it's a paradise to live in or see.
But believe it or not,
   you won't find it so hot,
   if you ain't got the do-re-mi.

Well, if you want to buy you a home or farm,
   that can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacations
   by the mountains or sea,
Don't swap your old cow for a car,
   You'd better stay right where you are;
well you'd better take this little tip from me.
   'Cause I look through the want ads every day,
And the headlines on the papers always say:


To see the sheet music, select here

Notes from the Folk Song & Minstrelsy Set

Thousands of Oklahoma dust bowl victims headed to California when their farms were destroyed by the drought and dust. Woody Guthrie went also. Broke and hungry, the migrants lined the highways by the hundreds, only to meet disappointment at the end of the long trek, because California was unable to handle the influx. Route 66 was the exodus road. Woody said "I wrote a letter to the governor of Oklahoma and told him to make that 66 Highway twice as wide a-comin' back from California as it is a-going." And he wrote "Do Re Mi" to warn the farmers of the ravaged Midwest and Southwest not to swap their "old cow for a car, but just stay right where you are."

Of note:

Though Woody didn't actually stay himself......Still, however, one of the best songs Cisco ever performed. Between Eric Weisberg's fiddle, which captures the 30's sound oh-so-well, and Cisco's elegant turning of the countrified lyrics, stretching the sounds exquisitely, well, nearly a perfect performance. And don't overlook the solid guitar accompanying it.

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