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Pity the Downtrodden Landlord, song lyrics

Song: Pity the Downtrodden Landlord
Lyrics: Barnet Woolf(1)(2)

Music: Arnold Clayton(1)(2)(3)
Year: 1946(1)(2)
Genre: Traditional
Country: England(1)(2)

Please open your hearts and your purses,
To a man who is misunderstood.
He gets all the kicks and the curses,
Though he wishes you nothing but good.
Well he wistfully begs you to show him,
You think he's a friend, not a louse.
So remember the debt that you owe him,
The landlord who lends you his house.
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So pity the downtrodden landlord,
And his back that is burdened and bent.
Respect his grey hairs,
Don't ask for repairs,
And don't be behind with the rent!

Now, you're able to work for a living,
And rejoice in your strength and your skill,
So try to be kind and forgiving,
To a man whom a day's work would kill.
You can work and still talk to your neighbors,
You can look the whole world in the face.
But the landlord who ventured to labor,
Would never survive the disgrace.
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When thunder clouds gather and darken,
You can sleep undisturbed in your bed;
But the landlord must sit up and hearken,
And shiver and wonder and dread;
If you're killed, then you die in a hurry,
And you never will know your bad luck,
But the landlord is shaking with worry,
"Has one of my houses been struck?"
This song was originally posted on

Now when a landlord resorts to eviction,
Don't think that he does it for spite;
He is acting from deepest conviction,
And what's right, after all, is what's right.
But I see that your hearts are all hardened,
And I fear I'm appealing in vain;
Yet I hope my last plea will be pardoned,
If I beg on my knees once again.



1 - From the People's Song Book, 1948, by Waldemar Hille; Alan Lomax; Benjamin Albert Botkin, p.120; 100 Songs that Changed the World, edited by Wanda Willson Whitman, 1969, p.187 and The Billboard, June 28, 1947, p.32.

2 - Barnet Woolf information from Graham Stevenson.

3 - Sorry, we have no biographical information on Arnold Clayton. If you do, we would appreciate it if you would share it by clicking "About" in the top menu, and sending us an email. Thank you.