Dust Bowl Refugees

Woody Guthrie became famous by singing folk songs about Americans out of work during the Great Depression. In Dust Bowl Refugee he sings about American farm families migrating west from Oklahoma to California in search of any work they could find. John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath is a story of an American family that loses their farm. Steinbeck’s book was eventually made into a film. What Parallels can you make between this experience and current migrant farm worker experiences?

Dust Bowl Refugee
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

I’m a dust bowl refugee,
Just a dust bowl refugee,
From that dust bowl to the peach bowl,
Now that peach fuzz is a-killin’ me.

‘Cross the mountains to the sea,
Come the wife and kids and me.
It’s a hot old dusty highway
For a dust bowl refugee.

Hard, it’s always been that way,
Here today and on our way
Down that mountain, ‘cross the desert,
Just a dust bowl refugee.

We are ramblers, so they say,
We are only here today,
Then we travel with the seasons,
We’re the dust bowl refugees.

From the south land and the drought land,
Come the wife and kids and me,
And this old world is a hard world
For a dust bowl refugee.

Yes, we ramble and we roam
And the highway that’s our home,
It’s a never-ending highway
For a dust bowl refugee.

Yes, we wander and we work
In your crops and in your fruit,
Like the whirlwinds on the desert
That’s the dust bowl refugees.

I’m a dust bowl refugee,
I’m a dust bowl refugee,
And I wonder will I always
Be a dust bowl refugee?


About Luis Guerrero

Director of the play: No Roosters In The Desert by Kara Hartzler and produced by Riot Act, Inc, Jackson, Wyoming.
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2 Responses to Dust Bowl Refugees

  1. Victorai says:

    That’s very insightful. As a poet, that has many different meanings in some ways. It was very touching.

  2. This poem shows that the people in the dust bowl refugee suffered many hardships. I feel that this poem is saying that after the tradegedy of the dust bowl many people felt trapped with their lives. Many lost their homes and their crops. They had no money and many starved. It was very well written and shows alot of insight.

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