VIGILANTE MAN

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
VIGILANTE MAN
“Vigilante Man” is a song adapted by Woody Guthrie. Guthrie freely admitted that his
songs were re-compositions of older material. Were they original songs? That depends
upon how you define originality. Obviously, the lyrics and themes he employed were his
own. The chord progressions and melodies he set those lyrics to be often borrowed
(appropriated?) from other sources. Woody Guthrie only admitted to what songwriters
have done for centuries. Every newly-composed song is to a certain degree a rewrite of
existing material. An ‘original’ composition introduces a degree of novelty (originality?)
that sets the song or ballad apart from any antecedents.
Tell me what is that Vigilante Man?
What is that Vigilante Man?
Does he carry a gun and a pistol in his hand?
I’ve heard his name all over the land.
Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
Have you seen that Vigilante Man?
I been hearing his name all over the land.
Rainy night down in the engine house,
Sleepin’ just as still as a mouse;
Man come along and chased us out in the rain,
Was that a Vigilante Man?
Stormy days we’d pass the time away,
Sleepin’ in some good warm place.
Man come along an’ we gave him a little race.
Was that a Vigilante Man?
Preacher Casey was just a working man,
And he said, “Unite all you working men.”
Killed him in the river, some strange man.
Was that a Vigilante Man?
Oh, why does a Vigilante Man,
Why does a Vigilante Man
Carry that sawed-off shot-gun in his hand?
Would he shoot his brother and sister down?
I rambled around from town to town,
I rambled around from town to town,
And they herded us around like a wild herd of cattle;
Was that the Vigilante Men?