Woody Guthrie

Below are the lyrics to a typical Woody Guthrie masterpiece, “Lindbergh,” which castigates Charles Lindbergh for his involvement in the America First Committee. Guthrie, who had a sticker on his guitar that read, “This Machine Kills Fascists,” was disgusted at the site of an American hero’s involvement in a movement that seemed anti-Semitic and appeasing of German aggression. Lindbergh himself had a relationship with Nazi Germany that has cast a pall over his legacy, although he firmly supported the war once it began.

Here is how Guthrie put his feelings to song:

Mister Charlie Lindbergh, he flew to old Berlin,
Got ‘im a big Iron Cross, and he flew right back again
To Washington, Washington.

Misses Charlie Lindbergh, she come dressed in red,
Said: “I’d like to sleep in that pretty White house bed
In Washington, Washington.”

Lindy said to Annie: “We’ll get there by and by,
But we’ll have to split the bed up with Hoover, Clark, and Nye
In Washington, Washington.”

Hitler wrote to Lindy, said “Do your very worst,”
So Lindy started an outfit that he called America First
In Washington, Washington.

All around the country, Lindbergh he did fly,
And the gasoline was paid for by Hoover, Clark, and Nye
In Washington, Washington.

Lindy said to Hoover: “We’ll do the same as France:
Make a deal with Hitler, and then we’ll get our chance
In Washington, Washington.”

Then they had a meetin’, and all the Firsters come,
Come on a-walkin’, they come on a-runnin’,
(Washington, Washington)

Yonder comes Father Coughlin, wearin’ the silver chain,
Cash on his stomach and Hitler on the brain.
(Washington, Washington)

Mister John L. Lewis would sit and straddle a fence,
‘Cause his daughter signed with Lindbergh, and we ain’t seen her since
(Washington, Washington)

Hitler said to Lindy: “Stall ‘em all you can,
We’re gonna bomb Pearl Harbor with the help of old Japan.”
(Washington, Washington)

Then on a December mornin’, the bombs come from Japan,
Wake Island and Pearl Harbor, kill fifteen hundred men.
(Washington, Washington)

Lindy tried to join the army, but they wouldn’t let ‘im in,
‘Fraid he’d sell to Hitler a few more million men.
(Washington, Washington)

So I’m gonna tell you people: If Hitler’s gonna be beat,
The common workin’ people has got to take the seat
In Washington, Washington.

And I’m gonna tell you workers, ‘fore you cash in your checks:
They say “America First,” but they mean “America Next,”
In Washington, Washington.

This particular song is available on The Asch Recordings —specifically volume one, but the whole set is worth every penny you’d pay for it.

Here is a great RealAudio segment from NPR featuring interviews with Guthrie discussing growing up in Oklahoma and his early career—as well as the ambivalence towards him in his hometown.

» Posted: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 | Permanent Link