The Ballad of the Unskilled Laborer

As I walk these long and lonely tracks,
The boxcars of my mind keep takin’ me back
To the days when I was wont to be free
And a tramp was what I decided to be.
I decided I would travel far,
So I hopped the nearest empty boxcar
With glorious visions in my mind
O’ the freedom ‘n’ happiness that I’d find.

Yes, them first years seemed rough, I admit;
But the freedom I had made life worth it.
For in them days, I was young and strong
And could work for people hard and long,
Makin’ just enough money to drink and eat
And keep clothes on my body and shoes on my feet.
I was purty proud o’ the man I’d become,
Though rich folks said I was just a bum.
I was happier’n any rich man could be,
And best of all, I was totally free.

Now that I’m older and not quite so strong,
Life seems shorter but my jobs last so long!
You’d rub your eyes to ses what I have to do
For just a pittance ‘n’ a morsel of food.
People, they see that I’m just an old man,
Yet they give me the hardest job that they can.
They always treat me awful bad
‘Cause they’re jealous, I guess, of the freedom I’ve had.

But I don’t mind aworkin’ so hard.
I figger I’m lucky to have come this far
In a life that’s truly been full o’ toil;
Yet, in it all has been lots o’ joy.

So, I’m ready to die a penniless bum,
Though God prob’ly ain’t proud o’ what I’ve become.
And, I hope that someday you, my friend,
Will know the freedom that I’ve lived in.

— Circa 1968