Special Centenary Song: My Version of Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd”

Woody Guthrie – the man who would go on to influence generations of protest singers from Bob Dylan to Billy Bragg – was born on this day 100 years ago. To celebrate, I’ve recorded “Pretty Boy Floyd”, a song Woody wrote in 1939. While Woody may have played fast and loose with the story of the outlaw’s life, the fact is that lyrics like,

“Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.”

are as relevant today as they were in 1939. This is my version of Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd”:

If you can’t play the song or are on an iPhone or Android phone, click here.

Pretty Boy Floyd

If you’ll gather ’round me, children,
A story I will tell
‘Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.

It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.

There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An’ his wife she overheard.

Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.

Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.

Others tell you ’bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.

It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:

Well, you say that I’m an outlaw,
You say that I’m a thief.
Here’s a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won’t never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

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2 comments on “Special Centenary Song: My Version of Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd”

  1. I really enjoyed your version of this song. Thanks for pointing out that it is Guthrie’s 100 year birthday. He may have been the first indie artist!

    http://stephenlwilson.blogspot.com
    https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/STEPHENLWILSON

  2. Great chill out after a long day writing – thanks Derek:)

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