It’s a Long Way Down to the Soupline (1915)

Tune: “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” (Harry Williams) (1912/1914)
First published as a song sheet for the defense fund, and then in the 25th edition (1933) of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

Bill Brown was just a working man Iike others of his kind.
He lost his job and tramped the streets when work was hard to find.
The landlord put him on the stem, the bankers kept his dough,
And Bill heard everybody sing, no matter where he’d go:

CHORUS:
It’s a long way down to the soupline,
It’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way down to the soupline,
And the soup is thin I know.
Good bye, good old pork chops,
Farewell, beefsteak rare;
It’s a long way down to the soupline,
But my soup is there.

So Bill and sixteen million men responded to the call
To force the hours of labor down and thus make jobs for all.
They picketed the industries and won the four-hour day
And organized a General Strike so men don’t have to say:

The workers own the factories now, where jobs were once destroyed
By big machines that filled the world with hungry unemployed.
They all own homes, they’re living well, they’re happy, free and strong,
But millionaires wear overalls and sing this little song:

Hear it in Swedish, sung by Roger CrookFor sheet music and karaoke file click here.

With Joe Hill’s permission, Charles Ashleigh revised the song in 1915 to meet local conditions:

It’s A Long Way Down to the Breadline (1915)

Bill Brown lived in Manhattan, in good old New York town.
The poor man lost his job one day, no more work could be found.
Bill Brown tramped the city streets for work the livelong day;
Till finally he went busted flat, then he did sadly say:

CHORUS:
It’s a long way down to the breadline, it’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way down to the breadline, and the bread is bum I know.
Good bye, good old pork chops, farewell, beefsteak rare.
It’s a long way down to the breadline, but my bread’s right there.

Bill Brown saw a big fine house, he knocked upon the door.
But they told him that they’d only help the “worthy poor.”
“Guess I’ll have to live on snowballs in the town where I was born,
“I haven’t got a rusty cent and my clothes are all in pawn.”

There’s discontent around the town among the sons of toil.
They’re all uniting as a class their master’s will to foil.
When all is over, men of wealth, with solemn faces long,
Will rue the day they heard the workers sing their latest song:

FINAL CHORUS:
It’s a long way down to the breadline, it’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way down to the breadline – and much too far, I know.
The bosses have the pork chops and all the beefsteak rare;
There’s plenty there for one and all of us, if we go right there!

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