Joe Jencks

The House That Jack Built

Thanks to Brad for introducing me to this amazing story, and for bringing it forth in song. Jack Miller was there that day, as a young man. This song came directly from Brad's interview with him in the late 1970s. The image of a worker with arms folded, refusing to work until conditions improved, was a common theme in IWW posters and organizing campaigns.

My name is Jack Miller, I'm an old union man
And your standing right now in the house that Jack built
My pride is the work that I've done with my hands
It's the laboring man that has made this land great

I am an old man of ninety two
When you are my age you'll realize it's true
You're young and you're limber, you're bone are like timber
But come the cold winter you'll change in your ways

I've seen you grow up in what seems a few days
And you know more than I knew when I was your age
I went to the saw mill when I was just twelve
And I learned how to run all the saws and the lathes

When the Wobblies came round I was first to sign on
We told the old boss that we wanted a raise
He hire his thugs and they rounded us up
We ran through their gauntlet and many were slain

I've worked all my live in the fields and the sawmills
Built bridges and houses and roads and canals
We stood our ground firmly and organized strikes
In fifty years of working built the working mans' rights

Let me tell you one thing, how I earned a good wage
There ain't no arms like folded arms for the working mans pay
There ain't no arms like folded arms for the working mans' pay

©  1979 Brad Warren, Word Works Music