Union Air In Union Square
Words by Woody Guthrie,
Music by Lowry Hamner
I walked out in New York town
To the place called Union Square
Where trees are thick and people bark
And the pigeons fill the air.
Where pure manure and bird drops
Are flying from the sky
You’ll get it in your ears and brain
As well as in your eye.
Old Paunchy shoots the Trotsky line
And waves his hands and struts
Reef Wilson sweats for the socialists
And the pigeons think he’s nuts.
Herb Solomon howls to get the dough
To rebuild Jerusalem
And above it all there waves the flag
Of your good old Uncle Sam.
I walked around and I heard the sound
Of voices of all sorts
The Slav, the Dutch, the heavy Swede,
The Negro, longs and shorts,
The broad flat As from the western plains
The thick ones and the thin,
The same old flag flew over them all—
All free, but different men.
Three Negro girls walked through and read the words carved here in stone
Words that told of the rocky road
That our forefathers come—
The sparrow chirped and the jaybird squawked
And the sweat-gnat plied his trade
I guess the sweat in Union Square
Is surely Union made.
A bigger fly just now buzzed by
And he flew to earth to land
And he sat there and laughed at me
As he licked and washed his hand
He knows damn well this country’s free
For him to bite my skin
(and I know, too, its free for me
To take a crack at ‘him).
One guy says “Why, I’m free to sleep
Where it says Keep Off The Grass!”
And a cop says, “Sure! An’ me, I’m free
To kick your lousy ass!”
The sun shoots down on many a head,
Some bushy and some bald
But away up high the stars and stripes
Waves on above us all
I put my feet upon the seat
Of the bench and the cop came ’round
And he swung his club and says “Hey, spud!
Ya better take ‘em down!”
So you see you’re free in our country
To do as you damn please
And other folks are just as free
To put you in your place.
A bald headed man with glasses on
Is humped up over a book
He feels like he has got the right
To look where he wants to look
The book he reads is filled with mystic
Symbols of masonry.
The fellow next to him reads
“How To Plant and Grow a Tree.”
The copper badge of the N.M.U.
On a fellow’s coat lapel
Tells me that he is from the sea
Where the fascists raise their hell—
Oh yes—you’re free in the U.S.A.
To be a fascist, too—
And of course the rest of us are free
To dig your grave for you
This union air in Union Square
Is breathed by many a lung
Some good, some bad, some sick,
Some right ones and some wrong
We haven’t got a Super Race
Nor a Godsent maniac
To make super dupers out of us
Nor chain nor hold us back.
What have we got? There’s two little girls
That climb a statue ’round
And they laugh and pat the marble breast
And jump down to the ground
And one says, “Hey! I’ll be a statue!
Looky! Hey! Watch me!”
And the second girl pooched her lips
And said, “I’d rather be a tree!”
“I’ll stand here with my clothes off
And be a statue real!”
And she scampered through the park
With the other one barking at her heel:
“You ain’t s’pose ta take yer dress off
Jest ’cause that statue did!”
“Girls don’t have much fun as statues!”
Was the only thing heard said.
© Copyright Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.