Do Re Mi (Woody Guthrie song)

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"Do Re Mi" is a folksong by American songwriter Woody Guthrie. The song deals with the experiences and reception of Dust Bowl migrants when they arrive in California.[1] It is known for having two guitar parts, both recorded by Guthrie.


Written by Woody Guthrie, the song is included on his 1940 folk album Dust Bowl Ballads. It takes the form of a warning to would-be migrants to stay where they are (places of origin mentioned include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia and Tennessee). The argument is made on the basis that there are already too many migrants, and not enough money or work available to make the hardships and expense of the trip worthwhile.

The message of the song parallels a theme of John Steinbeck's seminal novel The Grapes of Wrath, wherein the Joad family makes a dangerous, expensive trip from their home in Oklahoma to California. They encounter a fellow Dust Bowl migrant at a roadside rest-stop who tells them to turn back, echoing the cautionary tone of the song. He cites his own loss and misfortune (he mentions the trials of his dead wife and his underfed children 'moaning like pups') as a warning to others to avoid the same fate. Continuing on in spite of this, the Joads arrive in California nearly penniless, and having buried the two oldest members of the family. There they find there is indeed not enough work or pay to make ends meet.

The song appeared on the album Dust Bowl Ballads and was later released on the compilation Bound for Glory. It is heavily referenced in AJJ's song "Survival Song."

"Do Re Mi" was covered by Cisco Houston, Ry Cooder on his self-titled debut album in 1971, by Nanci Griffith on her 1993 album Other Voices, Other Rooms (duet with Guy Clark), by Ani DiFranco on her 2000 EP Swing Set and on the Woody Guthrie tribute 'Til We Outnumber Em, by Dave Alvin on his live CD Interstate City, by Bob Dylan in The People Speak documentary in 2009, and by Dan Crary on the album Flatpicking Guitar.


  1. ^ Karen Mueller Coombs Woody Guthrie: America's Folksinger 1575054647- - 2002 Page 45 "One song, "Do Re Mi , " told about illegal roadblocks the Los Angeles police set up at the California border. The police refused entry to out-of-state travelers who didn't have jobs or enough "do re mi" (money) to live on".

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