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.

Anonymous 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.