I'M GOING TO ORGANIZE, BABY MINE

(SARAH OGAN GUNNING) (1930s)

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Not all of Sarah's labor material is sombre. "I'm Going to Organize" seemed to appeal particularly to Woody Guthrie. Guthrie met Sarah soon after his arrival in New York. When she was in the hospital in the summer of 1941, he recorded (and altered) this song and titled it "Babe O' Mine." In this form the song reached a number of CIO trade unionists during World War II.

"I'm Going to Organize" has intrinsic interest as a union song; it is also one recent branch of the "Baby Mine -- Banjo Girl" family tree. In hillbilly tradition the text is usually secondary to the tune, which has become a lively vehicle for a banko instrumental.

Archie Green, liner notes for "Sarah Ogan Gunning -- A Girl of Constant Sorrow", Folk Legacy (1965)/Topic (GB) (1967).

Lyrics as recorded by Sarah Ogan Gunning, 1930s (Library of Congress, 1937?) and reprinted (minor corrections by Manfred Helfert) in Ronald D. Cohen & Dave Samuelson, liner notes for "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996, p. 62.
NOTE: Due to the low-fi quality of this recording, it is hard to distinguish whether SARAH OGAN GUNNING sings "baby mine" or "babe o' mine."

Lyrics as recorded by Sarah Ogan Gunning, 1960s; transcribed by Manfred Helfert.

VERSION 1 (1930s)
Oh, you're goin' to be surprised, baby mine.
Oh, you're goin' to be surprised, baby mine.
You're goin' to be surprised
For I'm goin' to organize
An' I'm goin' 'round the world, baby mine!

Oh, I'm goin' to lead the workers, baby mine.
Oh, I'm goin' to lead the workers, baby mine.
I'm goin' to lead the workers
For I sure can't be a shirker,
Oh, I'm goin' to lead the workers, baby mine!

These are miners' chilluns and wives, baby mine.
These are miners' chilluns and wives, baby mine.
These are miners' chilluns and wives,
I'm compelled to save their lives,
So I'm goin' to organize, baby mine!

Oh, I'm goin' to write you a letter, baby mine.
Oh, I'm goin' to write you a letter, baby mine.
I'm goin' to write you a letter,
When the livin' gets better.
Oh, I'm goin' to organize, baby mine!

Oh, I know that you'll agree, baby mine,
Oh, I know that you'll agree, baby mine,
Oh, I know that you'll agree,
For I have to fight... [ABRUPT ENDING]

VERSION 2 (1960s)
Oh, you're goin' to be surprised, babe o' mine.
Oh, you're goin' to be surprised, babe o' mine.
Oh, you're goin' to be surprised
For I'm goin' to organize
Yes, I'm goin' 'round this world, babe o' mine!

Oh, I'm goin' to write you a letter, babe o' mine.
Oh, I'm goin' to write you a letter, babe o' mine.
Oh, I'm goin' to write you a letter,
When the livin' gets better.
But I'm goin' to organize, babe o' mine!

See the workers' chillun and wives, babe o' mine.
See the workers' chillun and wives, babe o' mine.
See the workers' chillun and wives,
I'm compelled to save their lives,
So I'm goin' to organize, babe o' mine!

Oh, I love the union men, babe o' mine.
Oh, I love the union men, babe o' mine.
Oh, I love the union men,
The way they're treated is a sin,
So I'm gonna get organized, babe o' mine!

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