Joe Jencks

Bracero  5:23

I met Sonny Ochs at a Folk Alliance conference several years ago. After hearing some of my music, she asked me if I knew who her brother was. I answered honestly, "No." She reached into her bag immediately, and handed me a double disc compilation of Phil's music. She said, "Next time I see you, I expect you to know at least three of these songs!" It was the sort of mandate one does not ignore. I did as was instructed, and was instantly drawn into the artful storytelling and deeply compelling melodies of Phil's music. Thank you for bringing these treasures into my life, Sonny!

Wade into the river, through the rippling shallow water
Steal across the thirsty border, bracero
Come bring your hungry body to the golden fields of plenty
From a peso to a penny, bracero

Welcome to California
Where the friendly farmer will take care of you

Come labor for your mother, for your father and your brother
For your sister and your lover, bracero
Come pick the fruit of yellow, break the flower from the berry
Purple grapes will fill your belly, bracero

And the sun will bite your body, as the dust will draw you thirsty
As your muscles beg for mercy, bracero
In the shade of your sombrero, drop your sweat upon the soil
Like the fruit your youth can spoil, bracero

When the weary night embraces, sleep in shacks that could be cages
They will take it from your wages, bracero
And sing about tomorrow with the jingle of the dollar
And forget your crooked collar, bracero

And the local men are lazy, and they make too much of trouble
Besides we'd have to pay the double, bracero
But if you feel you're falling, if you find the pace is killing
There are others who are willing, bracero
© 1968 Phil Ochs, Almo Music Corp