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Boomtown Bill, song lyrics

Song: Boomtown Bill
Lyrics: Woody Guthrie(2)

Music: to the tune of "Wabash Cannonball"
Year: 1942
Genre: Folk
Country: USA

Come all you oilfield workers and listen to my tale,
I worked for Drake in '59(3), way back in Titusville;
The state called Pennsylvania, in the Alleghaney field;
I've chased the oil fields ever since; my name is Boomtown Bill.

I've worked in wind and weather, of rain and sleet and snow,
Yes, I done all the work folks, but John Dee(4) got the dough.
I don't like them company unions, and I know I never will;
I'm C.I.O.(5) from head to toe, my name is Boomtown Bill.
This song was originally posted on
I got my C.I.O. card, of which I'm mighty proud,
Whatever I believe in, I like to holler loud,
I don't like your company union cause, it just don't fill the bill,
I'm U.S.A. and C.I.O. and my name is Boomtown Bill.

I polished bits in Texas, from the ocean to the plain,
Worked every field in the forty eight states, and halfway back again;
And now we're fighting in a war, the oil has got to flow,
And the best way to beat Hitler, is to join the C.I.O..

Across the rolling ocean, the whole wide world around,
There's union workers fighting, to tear old Hitler down,
Yes, I'm an oil field worker, I'm a soldier in my field,
I'll fight to save our oil field, my name's Boomtown Bill.
This song was originally posted on

I've got a lot of work to do, and a great big war to win,
I'll take my pipe wrench back to work, and see you all again,
The C.I.O. is the best darned O, from the wildcat to the still,
So work and fight for what is right, and remember Boomtown Bill.



1 - Transcribed January 2012 from an Almanac Singers album.

2 - Woody Guthrie, biography.

3 - Edwin Drake and the Oil Well Drill Pipe and the first successful oil drilling method in 1859, in Titusville, Pennsylvania, from the Penn State University Library, and Edwin Drake biography from PBS' Who Made America.

4 - Probably a reference to John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company.

5 - the CIO was the a union called the Congress of Industrial Organizations that later merged with the American Federation of Labor to become the AFL-CIO.