Friday, November 4, 2011

Some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen

Pretty Boy Floyd
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.

It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.

There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An' his wife she overheard.

Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.

Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.

Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.

It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.
© Copyright 1958 (renewed) by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.


Elisabeth said...

I think I'd rather the attack with the pen than with the six gun. Thanks for this beautiful reminder of Guthrie, his music and words.

grrl + dog said...

I'm wondering if that is a true story -

the only one I knew of was the gangster..

Kerry O'Gorman said...

I loved this guy! paying off peoples morgages, leaving monster tips... a real modern day Robin Hood...Guthrie was a true musician. He said you didn't need more than 4 chords to write a good song. Yup. He proved that one many times!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Elisabeth - We had just watched the new movie, MARGIN CALL, about what began the Wall Street meltdown in 2008 and, at the close of it, all I could think of was Woodie Guthrie's idealistic words, "'ll never see an outlaw drive a family from their home." My son was glad I didn't write, too, about Guy Fawkes and Parliament, knowing anarchy is now labeled terrorism. This was my protest song for Nov. 5.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - If you look at Kerry's comment, which reflects what I believe to be true about the song, I think, though embellished, it contains fact. He WAS an outlaw, but I think there were circumstances and then, as now, it is hard to know who is the greater thief. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kerry - Four chords, hmm? And a message that stands up to time. I invited him to be my no-longer-taking-to-the-streets protest sign for today. Happily, he obliged.