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(If You Ain't Got the) Do Re Mi, song lyrics

Song: If You Ain't Got the Do Re Mi
Lyrics: Woody Guthrie(1)

Music: Woody Guthrie(1)
Year: 1937
Genre: Folk
Country: USA

Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day,
Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line.
'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl,
They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl, but here's what they find:
Now, the police at the port of entry say,
"You're number fourteen thousand for today."
This song was originally posted on
Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot,
If you ain't got the do re mi.

You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacation by the mountains or sea.
Don't swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
Better take this little tip from me.
'Cause I look through the want ads every day,
But the headlines on the papers always say:
This song was originally posted on


1 - Woody Guthrie biography.

2 - "Dough" is a slang term for money, so Woody Guthrie instead used the first three phonetic notes "Do Re Mi" for the song.

3 - Mass Exodus From the Plains from the PBS program American Experience

4 - "The Dust Bowl Migration" Poverty Stories, Race Stories by James N. Gregory, from the University of Washington.

5 - Dust Bowl Migration from Rural Migration News, October 2008, Vol 14, Number 4, University of California, Davis campus.