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Song for Bridges, song lyrics

Song: Song for Bridges also known as The Ballad of Harry Bridges
Lyrics: Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger(1)

Music: Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger(1)
Year: 1941
Genre: Folk
Country: USA

Let me tell you of a sailor, Harry Bridges(2) is his name,
An honest union leader who the bosses tried to frame.
He left home in Australia to sail the seas around,
He sailed across the ocean to land in 'Frisco(3) town.

There was only a company union(4), the bosses had their way.
A worker had to stand in line for a lousy dollar a day.
When up spoke Harry Bridges, "Us workers got to get wise,
Our wives and kids will starve to death if we don't get organized."
This song was originally posted on
Oh, the FBI is worried, the bosses they are scared,
They can't deport six million men, they know.
And we're not going to let them send Harry over the sea,
We'll fight for Harry Bridges and build the C.I.O..

They built a big bonfire by the Matson Lines(5) that night,
They threw their fink books in it and they said, "We're gonna fight!
You've got to pay a livin' wage or we're gonna take a walk."
They told it to the bosses, but the bosses wouldn't talk.

They said, "There's only one way left to get that contract signed"
And all around the waterfront they threw their picket line.
They called it Bloody Thursday(5), the fifth day of July,
For a hundred men were wounded and two were left to die.
This song was originally posted on

Now that was seven years ago, and in the time since then,
Harry's organized thousands more and made them union men.
"We must try to bribe him", the shipping bosses said.
And if he won't accept a bribe, we'll say that he's a red(6)."

The bosses brought a trial to deport him over the sea,
But the judge said, "He's an honest man, I got to set him free."
Then they brought another trial to frame him if they can,
But right by Harry Bridges stands every working man.



1 - Recorded by the Almanac Singers, which included: Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and later others.

2 - Harry Bridges biography and Harry Bridges: Life and Legacy from the University of Washington.

3 - San Francisco, California.

4 - Definition of a Company Union is one organized by the business or government for the benefit not of the workers but of the business.

5 - Details of Matson Line, The Great 1934 Waterfront Strike and "Bloody Thursday".

6 - "A red" is slang for communist.

7 - Harry Bridges was leader of the San Francisco basedSan Francisco based International Longshoreman's and Warehousemen's Union, and a regional director of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, C.I.O., a federation of labor unions.

8 - The Harry Bridges Institute.