Hallelujah, I’m a Bum

posted by Mike on January 1st, 2009

As the economy slows in 2009, will these old-timey songs of hard times make a comeback?

Here are three versions of the old IWW parody “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum.” The first is by the presumptive author, Harry “Big Rock Candy Mountain” McClintock, recorded in the late 1920s.

The other two are sung by Chris DuPuis and Mike Benedetti, backed by Stale Urine, and recorded in the late-2000s.

Related: There’s a great special about “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” lyricist Yip Harburg here.

Happy New Year!

Update: Here’s a quote from Bruce Sterling’s “year in review” discussion that seems relevant.

I’m a bohemian type, so I could scarcely be bothered to do anything “financially sound” in my entire adult life. Last year was the first year when I’ve felt genuinely sorry for responsible, well-to-do people. Suddenly they’ve got the precariousness of creatives, of the underclass, without that gleeful experience of decades spent living-it-up.


I even fret about the bankers. Seventeen percent of the US works in financial services. That’s a lot. I’ve got friends and relatives who work in those industries. I frankly enjoy tossing myself into turbulent parts of life, because I’m a dilettante who bores easily, but jeez, bankers are supposed to be the ultimate humorless brown-shoe crowd. They’re not supposed to wake up on a sleeping roll and scrounge breakfast.

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On January 4, 2009 at 12:13 Kaihsu Tai said:

    In the British context:

    [voice of Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling]
    O why don’t you lend,
    like you used to do?
    How in hell can I lend
    when there’re shareholders to woo?

    Hallelujah I’m a bank,
    hallelujah bank again.
    Hallelujah give us a bail-out
    to revive us again.

    … or something like that. Here is the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallelujah,_I%27m_a_Bum

  2. On January 5, 2009 at 13:04 Marc Magisana said:

    wiki: “unhelpful moralizing..” – very good
    fun song!
    “Stale Urine” sounds like my work in Detox…catchy name

    “Benedetti and Stale Urine capture the robust spirit of the original wobbly warbler with gusto and street aplomb”: review of “Hallelujah I’m a Bum” by Max the Spoon

    It’s always nice to hear that other people have the same attitude toward money that I do.

    Generous hearted of you to feel sorry for bankers – I did hear a story on NPR where a yuppie woman was crying about having to go the church pantry for food while a month ago she was shopping at Whole Foods. Since I’ve been on the food dole for 12 years, I couldn’t sympathize. I worked for a bank institution for awhile – I found them to be a disconnected and stressed lot.

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