I Heard A Man Talking
Words by Woody Guthrie, Te xt edit by Nora Guthrie, Music by Don Heffington and Rob Wasserman
Excerpt from Woody Guthrie essay My Work Is Me, 4/1943
I heard a man talking last night and he said
I could actually make more money when the depression was on.
And a lady laughed at him and said
Oh you couldn't either
How could you
And the man told her
I made more because I could steal more. Now a days this damn war makes it awful hard to steal and besides, I don't know, I just don't enjoy stealing like I once did.
And a scared look was on his face and he looked all around, up and down the street and then he said
That's what I mean.
When I look around all over the town
all these pictures
hungry kids looking at you
pictures of hungry soldiers needing a doughnut or a cup of coffee
I just feel like I don't want to steal no more.
this damn war is over.
And I heard the lady say,
You look like a pretty good guy to me.
How can it happen that
You would want to steal
Damned if I know
But I used to like it. I just naturally
got a kick out of stealing
I stole stuff
Because the rest of them was stealing stuff off of me.
And she pulled a red fire on the end of her cigarette
And she said
It's been very few green dollars that I've lifted off from men
How many is the wallet they dropped onto my floor
Money fell loose all over my place
I found out, we'll say,
That if you was - well - if I was to meet you right here on the street
and give you back your wallet
with all your papers and cards and pictures and stuff in it
and your money in it too
Twenty or thirty bucks
Not even touched
You'd like me for that wouldn't you?
And he said
Sure I would.
And she kept on
Why would you like me?
It would be because you thought more of your pictures and cards and
Than you did of the money
And he shook his head and said yes, and told her
a fellow just don't forget something like that with a snap of his finger
And she said,
And green as they make 'em but you still got a little speck of brains or something like brains
Rattling around inside of your head
How dumb are you sister
How thick is your block
He asked her
There aint a dry bitch in this town no more ignorant than you are
How the hell come you to say how dumb I am?
Youre dumb because youre here with me
That's how I know your dumb
You hadn't ought to be missing out on your sleep
You gotta hell of a hard days work ahead of you tomorrow
What in the hell do you want to suck around after me for?
You teach me a lot of stuff
He told her
You always do
You aint nothing fancy
Or nothing on a stick
I don't know - I always feel like you know a dang sight more
Than you act like
And she said
You're still a damn fool
For being with a damn fool.
Just because somebody is a damn fool
And somebody else is with them
That both of them are damn fools
And she said
And whose work
Whose hard earned money was it we blowed?
Drunk down. Pissed out. Then drunk down. Pissed out. Cold going in. Hot coming out.
You know good and well you don't really give a particular good god damn
So he said,
No I don't
Not this long time stuff
Not in a way like two sweeties about to get married
Not no little love next full of baby talk
No little cottage with a rose bush and a gate
But you see I'm not ever ready to think about that stuff
So I like to spend my time in a lot of crazy ways
Just to learn
About the world
Who they are
Where they are
What they are and what they think
And while he was talking she walked up the street and he walked along behind her a few steps.
© Copyright 2011 by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc., Wixen Music Publishing, & Steep Music
Note of Hope
Woody Guthrie, Rob Wasserman & Friends
This Track Performed by Studs Terkel and Rob Wasserman