Woody Guthrie Didn’t Have a Home in This World Anymore

The story goes that when Woody Guthrie was on the road in the 1930s, he heard people in the migrant camps singing an old Baptist hymn called “This World Is Not My Home” (sometimes also called “I Can’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore”). It’s a song about the better world to come. Here’s how it begins:

This world is not my home, I’m just passing through
My treasures and my hopes are all beyond the blue
Where many many friends and kindred have gone on before
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Over in Glory land, there is no dying there
The saints are shouting victory and singing everywhere
I hear the voice of them that I have heard before
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Guthrie didn’t like the other-worldly message at all, so he wrote new lyrics, turning it into a protest song, “I Ain’t Got No Home in This World Anymore”:

I ain’t got no home, I’m just a-roamin’ ’round,
Just a wandrin’ worker, I go from town to town.
And the police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

My brothers and my sisters are stranded on this road,
A hot and dusty road that a million feet have trod;
Rich man took my home and drove me from my door
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

Was a-farmin’ on the shares, and always I was poor;
My crops I lay into the banker’s store.
My wife took down and died upon the cabin floor,
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been working, mister, since the day I was born
Now I worry all the time like I never did before
‘Cause I ain’t got no home in this world anymore

Now as I look around, it’s mighty plain to see
This world is such a great and a funny place to be;
Oh, the gamblin’ man is rich an’ the workin’ man is poor,
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

He could have written that last verse yesterday.

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