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Woody Guthrie - "Agin'st the Law"

Woody Guthrie - "Agin'st the Law"

Using lyrics from Woody Guthrie and music from Billy Bragg and Wilco, we explore some of the norms and laws imposed upon Black Americans during the period of the Jim Crow South.

Worksheet available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16tkNSbiajPJHXqzPIcDEmpczvZXWFvERtK2AkSgaZA4/edit?usp=sharing

Original post: https://bush.posthaven.com/aginst-the-law

Spiro Bolos

March 23, 2023
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Transcript

  1. Agin’st the Law
    Woody Guthrie, 1947

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  2. It's against the law to walk,
    Against the law to talk
    Against the law to loaf,
    Against the law to work
    Against the law to read,
    Against the law to write
    Against the law to be
    a black a brown or white
    Everything's against the law
    I'm a low pay daddy
    singing the high price blues

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  3. It's against the law to eat,
    Against the law to drink
    Against the law to worry,
    Against the law to think
    Against the law to marry
    or try to settle down
    Against the law to ramble
    like a bum from town to town
    Everything's against the law
    I'm a low pay daddy
    singing the high price blues

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  4. It's against the law to come,
    Against the law to go
    Against the law to ride,
    Against the law to roll
    Against the law to hug,
    Against the law to kiss
    Against the law to shoot,
    Against the law to miss
    Everything's against the law
    I'm a low pay daddy
    singing the high price blues

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  5. It's against the law to gamble,
    Against the law to roam
    Against the law to organize,
    try to build a home
    Against the law to sing,
    Against the law to dance
    Against the law to tell you
    all the trouble on my hands
    Everything in Winston-Salem
    is against the law
    I'm a low pay daddy
    singing the high price blues

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  6. Your assignment: choose two actions in the
    song lyrics that are “agin’st the law” and
    explain how they are technically “illegal” or
    break norms in the Jim Crow South.
    For example, “Against the law to organize”
    could remind us that many labor unions
    excluded Black workers from membership.

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