Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (I)

DESCRIPTION: The bum explains that he cannot work when there are no jobs available, but then reveals his pleasure in a rambling life. He describes riding the rails, meeting women, begging, and -- sometimes -- troubles with the law.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1909 (IWW Little Red Songbook)
KEYWORDS: begging humorous hobo train work
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, pp. 184-185, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry-SongsSungInTheSouthernAppalachians, pp. 109-111, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (1 text, said to be "copied from a broadside")
Lomax/Lomax-AmericanBalladsAndFolkSongs, pp. 26-28, "Hallelujah, Bum Again" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-TreasuryOfAmericanFolklore, pp. 882-884, "Hallelujah, Bum Again" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ohrlin-HellBoundTrain 13, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (1 text, 1 tune)
Huntington-TheGam-MoreSongsWhalemenSang, p. 358, "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" (1 text, following the text of "Revive Us Again")
Greenway-AmericanFolksongsOfProtest, pp. 197-202, ("Hallelujah, I'm a Bum") (partial texts illustrating the history of the song)
Fireside-Book-of-Folk-Songs, p. 102, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 207, "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum" (1 text)

Roud #7992
Arthur Fields, "Hallelujah I'm a Bum (Grey Gull 2418/Grey Gull 4228/Madison 1642 [as John Bennett)/Madison 1938 [as George French], 1928)
Harry Kirk [probably a pseudonym], "Hallelujah! I'm a Bum" (Edison 52364, 1928)
Harry "Mac" McClintock, "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum" (Victor 21343, 1928) (Decca 5640, 1939) (on McClintock01)
Frank Marvin, "The Bum Song" (Romeo 719/Cameo 8296 [as Lazy Larry], 1928)
Frank Luther, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (Brunswick 254, 1928; Supertone S-2056, 1931)
Pete Seeger, "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" (on PeteSeeger32)
Hobo Jack Turner [pseud. Ernest Hare] "Hallelujah! I'm a Bum" (Harmony 705-H/Diva 2705-G/Velvet Tone 1705-V, 1928)
Weary Willie [pseud. for Jerry Ellis/Jack Golding] (Perfect 12461/Pathe 32382, 1928)

cf. "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (II)"
cf. "Revive Us Again" (tune, form)
Here We Rest (Greenway-AmericanFolksongsOfProtest, p. 145)
Vernon Dalhart, "The Bum Song No. 2" (CYL: Edison [BA] 5653, n.d.)
Harry "Mac" McClintock, "The Bum Song, No. 2" (Victor 21704, 1928) (Decca 5689, 1939)
Carson Robison Trio, "Bum Song No. 5" (Pathe 32477, 1929; Perfect 12571, 1930)
Hallelujah, Mr. Dean (song of Merrimac Mill strikes; Doug deNatale and Glenn Hinson, in their article, "The Southern Textile Song Tradition Reconsidered," published in Archie Green, editor, _Songs about Work: Essays in Occupational Culture for Richard A. Reuss_, Folklore Institute, Indiana University, 1993, p. 98)
NOTES [222 words]: Sung to the hymn tune "Revive Us Again." - PJS
Note the following Argyllshire rhyme: "Hallelujah make a dumpling Hallelujah bring it ben Hallelujah make a big one Hallelujah amen" (source: R.C. Maclagan, "Additions to The Games of Argyleshire" in Folk-Lore, (London, 1905 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. XVI, p. 453). - BS
I've seen this credited to Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock (e.g. by Greenway), but George Milburn offers evidence that the song is older; Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag also claims it was sung in 1897. McClintock was responsible for popularizing it, and the publishers seem to have thought his name would increase sales.
Greenway offers a detailed discussion of the history of the song (including Milburn's evidence), coming to the conclusion that McClintock really was the author. On the other hand, William M. Adler, The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon, Bloomsbury Press, 2011, pp, 130-131, 380, shows that it was being sung by IWW members -- including probably Hill -- in 1909. McClintock doubtless created his own version, but it is hard to believe that he originated the song.
Topical texts on this basic pattern are common; a recent one by Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber (p. 310 in the Folksinger's Wordbook) is about the activities of Richard Nixon. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.0
File: LxA026

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