“Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (I)”


The bum explains that he cannot work when there are no jobs available, but then reveals his pleasure in a rambling life. He describes riding the rails, meeting women, begging, and -- sometimes -- troubles with the law.


Sung to the hymn tune "Revive Us Again." - PJS

I've seen this credited to Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock, but George Milburn offers evidence that the song is older; Sandburg also claims it was sung in 1897. McClintock was responsible for popularizing it, and the publishers seem to have thought his name would increase sales.

Greenway offers a detailed discussion of the history of the song (including Milburn's evidence), coming to the conclusion that McClintock really was the author.

Topical texts on this basic pattern are common; a recent one by Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber (p. 310 in the Folksinger's Wordbook) is about the activities of Richard Nixon. - RBW

Same tune

  • Here We Rest (Greenway-AFP, p. 145)
  • Vernon Dalhart, "The Bum Song No. 2" (CYL: Edison [BA] 5653, n.d.)
  • Harry "Mac" McClintock, "The Bum Song, No. 2" (Victor 21704, 1928) (Decca 5689, 1939)
  • Carson Robison Trio, "Bum Song No. 5" (Pathe 32477, 1929; Perfect 12571, 1930)

Cross references


  • John Bennett, "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" (Madison 1642, 1927)
  • Harry Kirk [probably a pseudonym], "Hallelujah! I'm a Bum" (Edison 52364, 1928)
  • Harry "Mac" McClintock, "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum" (Victor 21343, 1928) (Decca 5640, 1939) (on McClintock01)
  • Frank Marvin, "The Bum Song" (Romeo 719/Cameo 8296 [as Lazy Larry], 1928)
  • Frank Luther, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (Brunswick 254, 1928; Supertone S-2056, 1931)
  • Pete Seeger, "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" (on PeteSeeger32)
  • Hobo Jack Turner [pseud. Ernest Hare] "Hallelujah! I'm a Bum" (Harmony 705-H/Diva 2705-G/Velvet Tone 1705-V, 1928)
  • Weary Willie [pseud. for Jerry Ellis/Jack Golding] (Perfect 12461/Pathe 32382, 1928)


  1. Sandburg, pp. 184-185, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 109-111, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (1 text, said to be "copied from a broadside")
  3. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 26-28, "Hallelujah, Bum Again" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 882-884, "Hallelujah, Bum Again" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Ohrlin-HBT 13, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Greenway-AFP, pp. 197-202, ("Hallelujah, I'm a Bum") (partial texts illustrating the history of the song)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 207, "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum" (1 text)
  9. Roud #7992
  10. BI, LxA026


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1909 (IWW Little Red Songbook)
Found in: US(So)