I HATE THE COMPANY BOSSES
(I HATE THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM)

(SARAH OGAN GUNNING) (1930s)

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Abot 1938, Moe Asch... first heard Sarah sing this piece. He complimented her by commenting that it was the most radical composition he had ever heard in his life. The original title was "I Hate the Capitalist System;" the song was recorded as such for the Library of Congress. Sarah though of it as autobiographical -- a response to the death of her loved ones -- and not polemical. Although she stated to me that the music was made up out of her mind, it is clearly related to at least two tunes known in mountain tradition; a Carter Family melody for a broadside usually called "The Sailor Boy," a haunting air printed by Combs from his mother's singing on Troublesome Creek, Knott County, Kentucky, about 1889, "On the Banks of That Lonely River."

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, 1960s,
transcribed by Manfred Helfert.

I hate the company bosses,
I'll tell you the reason why:
They cause me so much suffering
And my dearest friends to die.

Oh yes, I guess you wonder
What they have done to me.
I'm goin' to tell you, Mister,
My husband had TB.

Brought on by hard work and low wages,
An' not enough to eat,
Goin' naked an' hungry
No shoes on his feet.

I guess you'll say he's lazy,
An' did not want to work.
But I must say you're crazy,
For work he did not shirk.

My husband was a coal miner,
He worked an' risked his life,
To try to support three children,
Himself, his mother and wife.

I had a blue-eyed baby,
The darlin' of my heart.
But from my little darlin'
Her mother had to part.

These mighty company bosses,
They dress in jewels an' silk.
But my darlin' blue-eyed baby,
She starved to death for milk.

I had a darlin' mother,
For her I often cry.
But with them rotten conditions
My mother had to die.

Well, what killed your mother?
I hear these bosses say.
Dead of hard work an' starvation,
My mother had to pay.

Well, what killed your mother?
Oh tell us if you please.
Excuse me, it was pellagry,
That starvation disease.

They call this the land of plenty,
To them I guess it's true.
But that's to the company bosses,
Not workers like me an' you.

Well, what can I do about it
To these men of power an' might?
I tell you company bosses
I'm goin' to fight, fight, fight.

What can we do about it
To right this dreadful wrong?
We're all goin' to join the union,
For the union makes us strong.

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