Camp song book

COVID preparedness for singing: The state and county now allow singing with masks on, if outdoors and socially distanced, and if people do not sing at the top of their voices. We will have a PA system for our song leaders so they can sing quietly (the campers already sing quietly, so no problem there.)

Here are the camp songs for 2021. Since we have three weeks of camp this year, we’re adding lots of new songs. Whenever possible, we’ve provided either audio or links to videos so you can learn the songs ahead of time if you want. We included a few of our own Ecojustice Camp songs, plus songs and singers representing a diversity of voices, including BIPOC songwriters.

There are way too many songs to learn them all. Younger campers will enjoy some of these songs more, and older campers may prefer others. Learn the ones you like best. (Lyrics are provided here for educational purposes; copyright remains with copyright holders.)


THE ADAPTATION SONG
Dan Harper / Ecojustice Camp (2017)

1. I’m an otter, I’m an otter, I am a Sea Otter,
Swim among the kelp and hunt sea urchins underwater,
I use rocks as tools to open up my shellfish fodder,
I’m an otter, I’m an otter, I am a Sea Otter.

Chorus: Animals adapt to their environments
So they can meet all of life’s requirements.
What they eat and where they live and when they take a nap:
There are many ways that animals adapt.

2. I’m a fox, I’m a fox, I am a Gray Fox,
Make my den in caves or trees or in among rocks,
I am good at climbing trees and balancing on logs,
I’m a fox, I’m a fox, I am a Gray Fox.

3. I’m a falcon, I’m a falcon, I’m a Peregrine Falcon,
I’m the fastest animal, I hunt with my sharp talons,
I’m the one maintaining pigeon population balance,
I’m a falcon, I’m a falcon, I’m a Peregrine Falcon.

Adaptation Song (c) 2017 D. Harper

ALL GOD’S CRITTERS GOT A PLACE IN THE CHOIR
Bill Staines

1. Listen to the bass, it’s the one in the bottom
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus
Moans and groans with a big to-do, and the old cow just goes moo.
Dogs and cats, they take up the middle,
Where the honeybee hums and the crickets fiddle,
The donkey brays and the pony neighs, the old coyote howls.

Chorus: All God’s critters got a place in the choir,
Some sing low, and some sing higher,
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire,
And some just clap their hands or paws, or anything they got, now.

2. Listen to the top where the little birds sing,
On the melody with their high notes ringing,
The hoot owl hollers over everything, the jay bird disagrees.
Singing in the night time, singing in the day,
The little duck quacks and is on his way,
The possum ain’t got much to say, the porcupine talks to himself.

3. It’s a simple song of living and it’s sung everywhere,
By the ox and the fox and the grizzly bear,
The grumpy alligator and the hawk above, the sly raccoon, and the turtle dove.

Here are Annie Patterson and Peter Blood singing this song.


ARAGON MILL
Si Kahn

1. At the east end of town, at the foot of the hill,
Stands a chimney so tall that says Aragon Mill.
But there’s no smoke at all coming out of the stack,
The mill has shut down, and it ain’t coming back.

Chorus: And the only tune I hear
Is the sound of the wind
As it blows through the town,
Weave and spin, weave and spin.

2. Now I’m too old to change, and I’m too young to die,
And there’s no place to go for my old man and I.
There’s no children at all in the narrow empty streets
Now the looms have all gone, it’s so quiet I can’t sleep.

3. Now the mill has shut down, it’s the only life I know,
Tell me where will I go, tell me where will I go.

Here’s social justice activist Si Kahn singing this song. “Aragon Mill” has been adopted by people around the world, any place where mills closed and people lost their jobs. In Ireland, they sing “Belfast Mill,” calling it an old Irish song — here’s Rachel Hillary singing the Irish version.


BALLAD OF ADOBE CREEK
Dan Harper / Ecojustice Camp

1. ’Twas in Ohlone people’s time
Adobe Creek flowed free;
With willow trees its banks were lined,
A pretty sight to see.

Chorus: Oh, from Black Mountain, to the bay,
Lit by the golden sun,
Adobe Creek flows gently down,
Long may its waters run.

2. When European invaders came
Their thirsty cattle drank
The cooling waters, and then grazed
Along the grassy banks.

3. Then farmers planted fields so green
Beneath the sun so bright,
And all their crops grew like a dream:
A land of heart’s delight.

4. Soon houses spread along the creek,
But came a dreadful flood;
Its banks were lined with with grey concrete:
No more the living mud.

5. Down from the peaks where Live Oaks grow,
Past houses and highways:
For fourteen miles the waters flow
Until they reach the bay.

Recording coming soon (we hope).


BIG YELLOW TAXI
Joni Mitchell

1. They paved paradise,
Put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel,
A boutique, and a swinging hot spot

Chorus: Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.

2. They took all the trees,
Put ’em in a tree museum.
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em.

3. Hey farmer, farmer,
Put away that DDT, now.
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees (please!)

4. Late last night,
I heard the screen door slam.
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man.

Here’s a great performance by Yola.


BOUGHT ME A CAT
Traditional American

This is one of those songs where you keep adding things. Each verse always starts like this:

Bought me a _______, the ______ pleased me, fed my ______ under yonder tree.

Here’s every verse that we sing:
Horse went neigh,
Cow went moo,
Sheep went baa,
Dog went boo,
Goose went qua,
Duck went slishy-sloshy,
Hen went chipsy-chopsy,
Cat went fiddle-i-fee, fiddle-i-fee.

Here’s feminist singer-songwriter Peggy Seeger singing this song. Note that we do NOT sing the last two verses that Peggy sings, even though they’re traditional.


BRANCHING OUT
John Gorka

1. When I grow up, I want to be a tree,
Want to make my home with the birds and the bees
And the squirrels — they can count on me,
When I grow up, I’m going to be a tree.

Chorus: I’m going to reach, I’m going to reach,
I’m going to reach, reach for the sky.
I’m going to reach, I’m going to reach,
I’m going to reach till I know why.

2. I’ll let my joints get stiff, root my feet in the ground,
Take the winters off, and settle down,
I’ll keep my clothes till they turn brown,
When I grow up, I’m going to settle down.

3. When the spring comes by, I’m going to get real green,
When my flowers come out, I’ll be a bumble-bee’s dream,
On windy days, I’ll bend and lean,
When I grow up, I’m going to get real green.

4. If I should fall in storm or slumber,
Please don’t turn me into lumber.
I’d rather be a hollow nest
Where birds and mammals can take their rest.


CALIFORNIA COUNTRY ROADS
Ecojustice Camp, based on the song by John Denver

1. Almost heaven, California,
SantaCruz Mountains, San Lorenzo River,
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze.

Chorus: Country roads, take me home,
To the place I belong:
California, in the mountains,
Take me home, country roads.

2. All my memories gather round them,
Tie-dye lover, surfer in blue waters,
Cool and foggy, clearing to blue skies,
Misty shapes of redwoods, teardrops in my eyes,

3. I hear a voice, in the morning hours it calls me,
Radio reminds me of my home far away,
Driving down the road
I get a feeling that I should have been home
Yesterday, yesterday.

This song is sung around the world. Here’s Nishida Hikaaru singing Country Roads. And lots of people have adapted this song to where they live, just as we’ve done. Here’s the great Israel Kamakawiwoʻole singing about country roads in Hawai’i.


THE CAT CAME BACK
Harry S. Miller

1. Old Mister Johnson had troubles of his own,
He had a yellow cat that wouldn’t leave his home,
He tried and he tried to give that cat away,
He gave it to a man going far, far away,

Chorus: But the cat came back, the very next day,
Yes, the cat came back, they thought she was a goner,
But the cat came back, she just wouldn’t stay away.

2. The man around the corner said he’d kill the cat on sight,
He loaded up his shotgun with nails and dynamite,
He waited and he waited for that cat to come around,
Ninety seven pieces of the man was all they found,

3. He gave it to a man going up in a balloon,
Told him for to give it to the man in the moon,
The balloon came down about ninety miles away,
And where he is now I date not say,

4. He gave it to a man going way out west,
Told him for to take it to the one he loved best,
First the train hit the curve then it jumped the rails,
Not a soul was left behind to tell the gruesome tale,

It’s hard to find videos of this song with the exact words and tune we use. Here’s a video from an old TV show with the “Zoom kids” singing.


CARRY IT ON
Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015)

1. Hold your head up, lift the top of your mind,
Put your eyes on the Earth, lift your heart to your own home planet.
What do you see? What is your attitude?
Are you here to improve or damn it?

Look right now, and you will see we’re only
Here by the skin of our teeth as it is,
So take heart, and take care of your link with Life, and

Oh, carry it on. We’re saying:
Oh, carry it on, keep playing,
Oh, carry it on, and praying,
Oh, carry it on.

2. It ain’t money that makes the world go round,
That’s only temporary confusion,
It ain’t governments that make the people strong,
That’s an opposite illusion,

Look right now, and you will see they’re only
Here by the skin of their teeth as it is,
So take heart, and take care of your link with Life, and

Oh, carry it on. Keep saying:
Oh, carry it on, and playing,
Oh, carry it on, and praying,
Oh, carry it on.

Look right now, and you will see we’re only
Here by the skin of our teeth as it is,
So take heart, and take care of your link with Life …

3. … is beautiful if you’ve got the sense
To take care of your source of perfection —
Mother Nature, She’s the daughter of God
And the source of all protection,

Look right now, and you will see she’s only
Here by the skin of her teeth as it is,
So take heart, and take care of your link with Life.

Oh, carry it on. Keep saying:
Oh, carry it on, and playing,
Oh, carry it on, and praying,
Oh, carry it on.

Here’s Buffy’s music video of this song.


CIRCLE OF THE SUN
Sally Rogers

1. Babies are born in the circle of the sun,
Circle of the sun on their birthing day.
Clouds to the north, clouds to the south,
Wind and rain to the east and west…

2. I want to be married on my wedding day….

3. I want to be buried on my dying day….

Here’s Sally Rogers singing the song (we skip some of her verses).


COUNTRY LIFE
Traditional English

Chorus: Oh I like to rise when the sun she rises, early in the morning
And I like to hear them small birds singing, merrily upon the lay land
And hurrah for the life of a country boy, and to ramble in the new mown hay.

1. In the spring we sow in the harvest mow
And that’s how the seasons round they go
But of all the times if choose I may
It’s to ramble in the new mown hay.

2. In the winter when the sky is gray
We hedge and we ditch our time away
But in the summer when the sun shines gay
We go rambling in the new mown hay.

Here’s Folly Bridge singing Country Life.


DOWN BY THE BAY
Anonymous

Down by the bay, where the watermelon grow,
Back to my home, I dare not go,
For if I do, my mother would say:
Did you ever see a ——-
Down by the bay!

Here’s a recording with Raffi Cavoukian, in a video with scrolling lyrics.

There are LOTS more verses, pick some you like to bring to camp:
an ant, eat an elephant?
a beagle, flying with the seagulls?
a bear, combing his hair?
a bee, with a sunburnt knee?
a beetle, threading a needle?
a bunny, eating milk and honey?
a cat, swing a baseball bat?
a chicken, do some guitar pickin’?
a chimp, flying in a blimp?
a cockatoo, playing a kazoo?
a cow, with a green eyebrow?
a crab, drive a taxicab?
a deer, throwing a spear?
a dog, dancing with a frog?
a dragonfly, eating an apple pie?
a duck, in a pickup truck?
an eagle, married to a beagle?
a fish, do a hula in a dish?
a fly, wearing a tie?
a fox, hiding in a box?
a frog, hopping on a dog?
a giraffe, who really made you laugh?
a goat, in a ferry boat?
a goose, kissing a moose?
a hawk, knitting a sock?
a hog, going out to jog?
a horse, on a golf course?
a kangaroo, tying her shoe?
a lizard, dressed for a blizzard?
a llama, wearing striped pajamas?
a lobster, shooting at a mobster?
a loon, in a hot air balloon?
a mink, at the skating rink?
a moose, drinking apple juice?
a mouse, build a great big house?
a mule, swimming in a pool?
an octopus, who liked to swear and cuss?
an owl, drying on a towel?
a pig, dancing a jig?
a platypus, drive a shuttle bus?
a rat, with a great big hat?
a seal, on a ferris wheel?
a sheep, driving a jeep?
a slug, give a bug a hug?
a snail, with a dinner pail?
a snake, baking a cake?
a spider, drinking apple cider?
a turkey, who liked to eat beef jerky?
a whale, with a polka-dotted tail?
a wombat, marching off to combat?
a yak, doing jumping jacks?


THE EARTH IS OUR MOTHER
Anonymous

1. The earth is our mother,
We must take care of her,
The earth is our mother,
We must take care of her.

Chorus: Hey, yanna, ho, yanna, hey, yan, yan,
Hey, yanna, ho, yanna, hey, yan, yan.

2. It’s sacred ground we walk upon,
With every step we take,
It’s sacred ground we walk upon,
With every step we take.

3. The sky is our father,
We must take care of him,
The sky is our father,
We must take care of him.

4. It’s sacred air we breathe in,
With every breath we take,
It’s sacred air we breathe in,
With every breath we take.

The Earth Is Our Mother CC BY NC 4.0 Ecojustice Camp

ENERGY FROM THE SUN
Dan Harper / Ecojustice Camp (2021)

1. Energy from the sun flows through us all,
All of earth’s life-forms, both great ones and small.

2. Light, plus 6 H2O, plus CO2,
Makes C6H12O6 plus O2.

3. Plants take in water plus carbon dioxide,
From them make oxygen, and carbohydrates.

4. Energy links us to all life on earth,
We’re in earth’s energy flow from our birth.

Energy from the Sun (c) 2021 D. Harper

EVERY LIVING THING (THE INTERDEPENDENCE SONG)
Dan Harper / Ecojustice Camp (2017)

1. Red-tailed Hawks like to eat Shrew-Moles when they can,
Shrew-Moles eat earthworms, it’s on their menu plan,
Earthworms eat compost, and have since time began.

Chorus: Every living thing needs another living thing to survive.
Every living thing needs another living thing to survive,
Living things depend on other living things to stay alive.

2. Foxes eat rabbits and other herbivores,
Rabbits eat grasses and fruits and lots of forbs,
Plants make their own food from sun and soil and chlorophyll.

3. Mountain Lions hunt Raccoons, and Seals, so they say,
But when they die, then it’s their turn to be prey,
Vultures and microbes eat dead things, helping them decay.

Every Living Thing (c) 2017 D. Harper

GARBAGE
Bill Steele

1. Mister Thompson calls the waiter, orders steak and baked potato
Then he leaves the bone and gristle and he never eats the skins;
The busboy comes and takes it, with a cough contaminates it,
And puts it in a can with coffee grinds and sardine tins.
The truck comes by on Friday and carts it all away,
And a thousand trucks just like it are converging on the Bay, oh—
Garbage (garbage, garbage, garbage), Garbage (garbage, garbage)
We’re filling up the sea with garbage,
What will we do when there’s no place left to put all the garbage?

2. Mr. Thompson starts his Cadillac and winds it down the freeway track
Leaving friends and neighbors in a hydrocarbon haze,
He’s joined by lots of smaller cars all belching gases to the stars.
There they form a seething cloud that hangs for thirty days,
And the sun licks down into it with an ultraviolet tongue,
Till it turns to smog and settles down and ends up in our lungs, oh—
Garbage (garbage, garbage, garbage), Garbage (garbage, garbage)
We’re filling up the sky with garbage
What will we do When there’s nothing left to breathe but garbage?

3. Getting home & taking off his shoes he settles down with the evening news,
While the kids do homework with the TV in one ear;
& Superman for the thousandth time sells talking dolls and conquers crime,
Dutifully they learn the date of birth of Paul Revere,
In the paper there’s a piece about the mayor’s middle name,
And he gets it done in time to watch the Allstar Bingo Game, oh—
Garbage (garbage, garbage, garbage), Garbage (garbage, garbage)
We’re filling up our minds with garbage
What will we do when there’s nothing left to read?
And there’s nothing left to need; and there’s nothing left to watch;
And there’s nothing left to touch; and there’s nothing left to walk upon;
And there’s nothing left to talk upon; and nothing left to see;
And there’s nothing left to be — but garbage!

Here’s a recording by ecojustice elder Pete Seeger.


THE GARDEN SONG
David Mallet

Chorus: Inch by inch, row by row,
Gonna make this garden grow,
All it takes is a rake and a hoe,
And a piece of fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row,
Someone bless these seeds I sow,
Someone warm them from below,
Till the rains come tumbling down.

1. Pulling weeds and picking stones,
We are made from dreams and bones,
Feel the need to grow my own
’Cause the time is close at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain,
Find my way in nature’s chain,
To my body and my brain,
To the music from the land.

2. Plant your rows straight and long,
Temper them with prayer and song,
Mother Earth can make you strong,
If you give her love and care.
Old crow watch ing hungrily,
From his perch in yonder tree,
In my garden I’m as free
As that feathered thief up there.

Here’s a video of this song with kids dancing in a garden, kinda weird but nice.


GET ON BOARD
Traditional African American

Chorus: Get on board, everybody,
Get on board, everybody,
Get on board, everybody,
There’s room for many-a more.

1. The freedom train is coming,
I hear it just at hand,
I hear them car wheels moving,
And rumbling through the land.

2. I see that train a-coming,
A-coming round the curve,
She’s loosened all her steam and brakes,
And straining every nerve.

3. The fare is cheap and all can go,
The rich and poor are there,
No second class aboard this train,
No difference in the fare.

4. It rolls across the trestle,
It spans the Jordan’s tide,
It pulls into the depot,
That’s where this train will ride.

Here’s a recording with the great Paul Robeson. We use the lyrics from the Civil Rights movement, so we sing about the “freedom train.”


HABITAT
Bob Reid

Chorus: Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat [3 times]
You have to have a habitat to carry on.

1. The ocean is a habitat, a very special habitat,
It’s where the deepest water’s at, it’s where the biggest mammal’s at
It’s where our food chain started at, it keeps the atmosphere intact,
The ocean is a habitat that we depend on.

2. The Forest is a habitat, a very special habitat,
It’s where the tallest trees are at, it’s where a bear can scratch her back
It keeps the ground from rolling back, renews the oxygen, in fact,
The Forest is a habitat that we depend on.

3. The river is a habitat, a very special habitat,
It’s where the freshest water’s at, for people, fish, and muskrats,
But when the people toss their trash the river takes the biggest rap,
The river is a habitat that we depend on.

4. Now people are different from foxes and rabbits,
Affect the whole world with our bad habits,
Better to love it while we still have it or
Rat-a-tat-tat, our habitat’s gone.

Unfortunately, there are no online recordings of Bob Reid singing this song. And we couldn’t find an online recording that we liked. So you’ll have to learn this song at camp.


THE HAMMER SONG
Lee Hayes and Pete Seeger

1. If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning,
I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land,
I’d hammer out danger, I’d hammer out warning,
I’d hammer out a love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

2. If I had a bell, I’d ring it in the morning,
I’d ring it in the evening, all over this land,
I’d ring out danger, I’d ring out warning,
I’d ring out a love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

3. If I had a song, I’d sing it in the morning,
I’d sing it in the evening all over this land,
I’d sing out danger, I’d sing out warning,
I’d sing out a love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

4. Well, I’ve got a hammer, and I got a bell
And I’ve got a song to sing all over this land,
It’s the hammer of justice, it’s the bell of freedom,
It’s a song about a love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Here’s a video of Trini Lopez doing his version of this classic song.


HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, AND TOES
Anonymous

1. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes…
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose…

2. Head, gills, and fins, and tail…
And eyes and ears and mouth and scales…

3. Head, talons, wings, and beak…
And eyes and ears and neck and cheek…

Head, Gills, and Fins, and Tail CC BY NC 4.0 Ecojustice Camp

HOME ON THE RANGE
Brewster Higley and Daniel Kelley

1. Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Chorus: Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

2. How often at night when the heavens are bright
With the light of the glittering stars,
Have I stood here amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of ours.

Here’s a good version, but with slightly different words than we sing.


I LOVE THE MOUNTAINS
Anonymous

I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills,
I love the flowers, I love the daffodils,
I love the fireside when all the lights are low,
Boom-dee-ah-da, boom-dee-ah-da, boom-dee-ah-da, boom-dee-ah-da.

I Love the Flowers CC BY NC 4.0 Ecojustice Camp

IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT
Animal version by Ecojustice Camp

1. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your paws…
If you’re happy and you know it, clap you paws.
If you’re happy and you know it
And you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your paws.

2. If you’re happy and you know it, flap your wings …

3. If you’re happy and you know it, slap your fins…

4. If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your hooves…

5. If you’re happy and you know it, swing from your tail…

If You’re Happy and You Know It CC BY NC 4.0 Ecojustice Camp

LISTEN TO THE WATER
Bob Schneider

Chorus: Listen to the water, listen to the water, rolling down Adobe Creek,
Listen to the water, listen to the water, rolling down to the Bay.

1. I saw some swallows by the waterside….

2. I saw some ducks by the waterside….

3. I saw some squirrels by the waterside….

Here’s Bob Schneider’s recording of this song. We’ve adapted this song a little, so it mentions the creek next to camp, and the animals that live there.


LOW BRIDGE (The Erie Canal)
Thomas S. Allen, 1905 (but he probably got it from an older folk song)

Many people think this song says “fifteen miles on the Erie Canal,” but the original words to this classic song actually say — “fifteen YEARS on the Erie Canal,” which makes a lot more sense.

1. I got a mule, her name is Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
She’s a a good old worker and a good old pal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
We’ve hauled some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay,
And ev’ry inch of the way I the know,
From Albany to Buffalo, oh,

Chorus: Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, for we’re coming to a town,
You can always tell your neighbor,
You can always tell your pal,
If they’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

2. We’d better look round for a job, old gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
You bet your life I wouldn’t part with Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
Giddap, there, girl, we’ve passed that lock,
We’ll make Rome ’fore six o’clock,
So one more trip and then we’ll go
Right straight back to Buffalo, oh,

Chorus

3. I don’t have to call when I want my Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
She trots from her stall like a good old gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
I eat my meals with Sal each day,
I eat beef, and she eats hay,
She ain’t so slow if you want to know,
She put the “Buff” in Buffalo, oh,

Chorus

Lots of people sing this song as “fifteen miles” but the original was “fifteen YEARS.” (That’s important, because this song was written when steam engines had finally done away with mules on the Erie Canal, after many years of mules pulling barges.) Here’s a version that gets it right.


MICHAEL ROW THE BOAT ASHORE
Traditional African American

Michael, row the boat ashore, hallelujah,
Michael, row the boat ashore, hallelujah.

1. River Jordan is deep and wide, hallelujah,
Milk and honey on the other side, hallelujah.

2. Won’t you help to trim the sail, hallelujah,
Won’t you help to trim the sail, hallelujah.

3. Michael’s boat a music boat, hallelujah,
MIchael’s boat a music boat, hallelujah.

Here’s Joe and Eddie singing Michael Row the Boat Ashore. They sing somewhat different words than we do.


OH WHEN THE SAINTS
Music by Virgil Stamps, with new words by Ecojustice Camp

1. Oh when the saints go marching in,
Oh when the saints go marching in,
Oh, how I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

2. Oh when we stop polluting earth,
Oh when we stop polluting earth,
Oh, how I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

3. Oh when the rivers all run free,
Oh when the rivers all run free,
Oh, how I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

4. And when the stars shine clear and bright,
And when the stars shine clear and bright,
Oh, how I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

5. And on that hallelujah day,
Yes on that hallelujah day,
Oh, how I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

Here’s a video of the immortal jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong singing the traditional lyrics.

And here’s blues master B. B. King singing the song.


OLEANNA
Ditmar Meidell, English version by Pete Seeger

A song about how immigrants may find the reality of life in the U.S. a little different from what is advertised. (The song was written about a utopian community in the 19th C. that ultimately failed.)

1. Oh, to be in Oleanna,
That is where I’d rather be,
Than be bound in Norway,
And wear the chains of slavery.

Chorus: Ole, Oleanna, Ole, Ole anna,
Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Oleanna.

2. In Oleanna, land is free,
The wheat and corn just plant themselves
Then grow a good four feet a day,
While on your bed your rest yourself.

3. Beer as sweet as Munchener
Springs from the ground and flows away,
The cows all like to milk themselves,
And hens lay eggs ten times a day.

4. Little roasted piggies
Just rush about the city streets,
Inquiring so politely
If a slice of ham you’d like to eat.

5. Aye, if you’d begin to live,
To Oleanna you must go;
The poorest wretch in Norway
Becomes a duke in a year or so.

Here’s this song sung in both English (by Pete Seeger) and Norwegian.


RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD
David Francey

Chorus: Thought I heard a red-winged blackbird
Red-winged blackbird down my road [2 times]

1. He’ll be there beside the river
When winter finally breaks its bones
He’ll be singing in the cattails,
Settling into his springtime home.

2. With his mate among the rushes,
Building their home on the river wide
Every time I hear him singing
Makes me feel like spring inside.

3. He’ll be in there singing his heart out,
He’ll be telling me stories true
Of where he went to winter last year,
Of how he’s going back there too.

Here’s David Francey singing the song. We learned this song with slightly different words.


ROLL THE OLD CHARIOT ALONG
Traditional African American sea chantey

Chorus: Roll the old chariot along,
Roll the old chariot along,
Roll the old chariot along,
And we’ll all hang on behind.

1. And a plate of Irish stew wouldn’t do us any harm,
And a plate of Irish stew wouldn’t do us any harm
And a plate of Irish stew wouldn’t do us any harm,
And we’ll all hang on behind.

2. A nice watch below wouldn’t do us any harm…

3. A night on the shore wouldn’t do us any harm…

5. If the captain’s in our way, we’ll roll right over him…

We learned this at the monthly sea chantey sing-along at the San Francisco Maritime National Park. There are LOTS of bad video versions of this chantey out there, but here’s a good one: A really short version from Mystic Seaport.


SWIMMING TO THE OTHER SIDE
Pat Humphries

1. I’m alone and I am searching,
Hungering for answers in my time,
I am balanc’d at the brink of wisdom,
I’m impatient to receive a sign,
I move forward with my senses open,
Imperfection will be my crime,
In humility I will listen,
We’re all Swimming to the Other Side.

Chorus: We are living ’neath the Great Big Dipper,
We are washed by the very same rain,
We are swimming in the stream together,
Some in power and some in pain,
We can worship the ground we walk on,
Cherishing the beings that we live beside,
Loving spirits will live forever,
We’re all Swimming to the Other Side.

2. On this journey through thoughts and feelings,
Binding intuition, my head, my heart,
I am gathering the tools together,
I’m preparing to do my part,
All of those who have come before me,
Band together to be my guide,
Loving lessons that I will follow,
We’re all Swimming to the Other Side.

3. When we get there we’ll discover,
All of the gifts we’ve been given to share,
Have been with us since life’s beginning,
And we never noticed they were there,
We can balance at the brink of wisdom,
Never recognizing that we’ve arrived,
Loving spirits will live forever,
We’re all Swimming to the Other Side.

Here’s a video with Pat Humphries singing this song.

Words to the harmony part (by Lui Collins):
We are living, we are dwelling,
In a grand and awesome time,
We can worship, we can cherish,
All the ones we live beside.


SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT
Wallace Willis, c. 1840

Chorus: Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home [2 times]

1. I looked over Jordan, & what did I see, a band of angels coming after me

2. I’m sometimes up & sometimes down, but still my soul is freedom bound

3. If you get there before I do, tell all my friends I’m coming too

The immortal Fisk Jubilee Singers performing this song a hundred years ago. Wallace Willis was an enslaved Choctaw who lived in Oklahoma. This song was probably an Underground Railroad song, so “Jordan” would have been the Red River in Oklahoma (or other rivers in other parts of the South), and “angels” would have been conductors on the Underground Railroad. If you want to read more about the song, try here.


THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BUCKET
Traditional German

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza, a hole.

Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.

With what shall I fix it
With a straw
The straw is too long
Then cut it
With what shall I cut it
With an axe
The axe is too dull
Then sharpen it
On what shall I sharpen it
On a stone
The stone is too dry
Then wet it
With what shall I wet it
Try water
In what shall I fetch it
In a bucket
There’s a hole in the bucket
Use your head then, dear Henry!

Here’s a video with Harry Belafonte and Odetta singing this song.


THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND
Woody Guthrie (the original 1940 words)

Chorus: This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California, to the New York Island,
From the redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters:
This land was made for you and me.

1. As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

2. I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
And all around me a voice was calling:
This land was made for you and me.

3. When the sun was shining and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

4. One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people,
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
This land was made for you and me.

The Native American verse:
5. You say it’s your land, but it once was our land,
From Alaskan tundra to Florida’s islands,
You forced our Nations onto reservations,
This land was stolen by you from me.

First, check out this recording: Boston Children’s Chorus tells you why this is an ecojustice song — we sing the song a little differently at camp, but this is a good recording.
Now here’s Woody Guthrie singing this song about how this land belongs to all of us. (Although a lot of First Nations and indigenous people would say that it’s not quite that simple, which is why we now include the Native American verse above.)


THROW IT OUT THE WINDOW
Anonymous

1. Old Mother Hubbard, she went to her cupboard
Fetched her poor dog a bone,
But when she got there, the cupboard was bare,
So she threw it out the window,
The window, the second story window,
When she got there, the cupboard was bare,
So she threw it out the window.

2. Little Jack Horner sat in a corner
Eating a Christmas pie,
He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum
He threw it out the window,
The window, the second story window,
He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum,
And he threw it out the window.

You can fit just about any nursery rhyme inot this song. Like this:

Old King Cole was a merry old soul,
A merry old soul was he,
He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl,
And he threw them out the window.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells,
And I threw it out the window.

CC BY NC 4.0 Ecojustice Camp

WADE IN THE WATER
Traditional African American

Wade in the water, wade in the water, children,
Wade in the water, god’s gonna trouble the water.

1. Jordan River is deep and wide (Wade in the water)
Milk and honey on the other side (God’s gonna trouble the water)

2. Well, who’s that coming, all dressed in white?
It looks like the children who are fighting for their rights.

3. And who’s that yonder, all dressed in black?…
They come a long way, and they ain’t turning back….

4. Now see that band, all dressed in blue….
Must be the children that made it through….

Here’s Sweet Honey in the Rock with an amazing a capella performance of “Wade in the Water”. This was probably another Underground Railroad song. Sweet Honey sings the more traditional lyrics, while at camp we sing the updated lyrics from the Civil Rights movement.


WATER
Bob Reid

1. Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to spare
Water in the ground, water in the air
Though it may evaporate it never goes away
It snows on top the mountain, melts and flows into the bay.

Chorus: Animals need water, people need it too
Keep it clean for me and I’ll keep it clean for you [2 times]

2. Now you can take a shower in it, you can wash your hair,
You can wash your clothes or wash your teddy bear,
Really clean water is getting kinda rare,
If we want to keep it, people have to care.

3. Now water is rain, water’s a flood,
Water turns dirt into mud,
Sometime water’s blue, sometimes water’s green,
Sometimes water’s dirty and sometimes water’s clean.

4. Now they say the ocean’s filling up with stuff like DDT,
It shows up in the fish and then in you and me,
If we drink too much of it we’ll wind up in bed,
If we drink enough of it we may wind up dead.

Bob Reid & the U.N. Childen’s Choir singing “Water” at the United Nations.


WHEN I FIRST CAME TO THIS LAND
Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch song, English version by Oscar Brand

When I first came to this land,
I was not a wealthy man
So I got myself a dog
And I did what I could
And I called my dog, “What a hog,”
And I called my hen, “Now and then,”
And I called my horse, “Dead of course,”
And I called my cow, “No milk now,”
And I called my shack, “Break my back,”
And I called my farm, “Muscle in my arm,”
But the land was sweet and good,
And I did what I could.

Here’s Pete Seeger singing this song. We don’t like Pete Seeger’s last two verses (especially the sexist second-to-last verse), but this is still the best version we could find online.


KEEP ON MOVING FORWARD
Pat Humphries, trans. Liliana Herrera and others

Going to keep on moving forward, keep on moving forward, keep on moving forward
Never turning back, never turning back

Sigamos adelante, siempre adelante, sin volver atrás

Going to keep on loving boldly, keep on loving boldly…

Amaremos con passion, siempre con passion…

Going to reach across our borders, reach across our borders…

Vivamos sin fronteras, siempre sin fronteras…

Going to sow the seeds of justice, sow the seeds of justice…

Sembremos la justicia, siempre la justicia…

Here’s Pat Humphries performing this song.


EN LA PULGA DE SAN JOSE
Anonymous

1. En la Pulga de San José
Yo compré una guitarra,
Tarra, tarra, tarra, la guitarra
Vaya usted, vaya usted, en la Pulga de San José (2x)

2. En la Pulga de San José
Yo compré un clarinete,
Neti, neti, neti, clarinete,
Tarra, tarra, tarra, la guitarra…

3. En la Pulga de San José
Yo compré un violín,
Lín, lín, lín, violín,
Neti, neti, neti, clarinete,
Tarra, tarra, tarra, la guitarra…

4. En la Pulga de San José
Yo compré un violón,
Lón, lón, lón, violón,
Lín, lín, lín, violín,
Neti, neti, neti, clarinete,
Tarra, tarra, tarra, la guitarra…

5. En la Pulga de San José
Yo compré un tum-tum,
Tum, tum, tum, el tum-tum,
Lón, lón, lón, violón,
Lín, lín, lín, violín,
Neti, neti, neti, clarinete,
Tarra, tarra, tarra, la guitarra…

Sorry, we don’t have a recording for this song.


DE COLORES
Traditional

1. De colores, de colores se visten los campos en la primavera
De colores, de colores son los pajaritos que vienen de afuera
De colores, de colores es el arco iris que vemos lucir

Chorus: Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores
Me gustan a mi y por eso los grandes amores
De muchos colores me gustan a mi

2. Canta el gallo con el quiri quiri quiri quiri quiri
La gallina, la gallina con el cara cara cara cara cara
Los polluelos/pollitos con el pio pio pio pio pi

Here’s José-Luis Orozo singing this song.


CEILITO LINDO
Traditional

1. De la sierra morena
Cielito lindo vienen bajando
Un par de ojitos negros
Cielito lindo de contrabando

Chorus: Ay, ay, ay, ay canta y no llores
Por que cantando se alegran
Cielito lindo los corazones

2. Ese lunar que tienes
Cielito lindo junto a la boca
no se lo des a nadie
Cielito lindo que a mi me toca

Here’s a recording with the lyrics.


FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD
Traditional African American

Chorus: Follow the drinking gourd,
Follow the drinking gourd,
For the old man is a-waiting for to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd.

1. Now when the sun comes back and the first quail calls,
Follow the drinking gourd,
The old man is a-waiting for to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd.

2. Now the riverbank will make a mighty good road…
Left foot peg foot traveling on…

3. Now the river ends between two hills…
There’s another river on the other side…

Another Underground Railroad song. Here are social justice activists The Weavers singing this song.


TAN OAK
Walden West

Chorus:
Tan Oak, Tan Oak (clap twice)
Oooh, baby let your xylem flow (wooooo!)
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Tan Oak, Tan Oak (clap twice)
Oooh, baby let your xylem flow (HUA!)
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…The xylem’s under the bark where it’s cool and dark
It takes the wet from the ground and it spreads it around

1. It’s the oak that’s tan and it gives us a hand
It’s where the natives go to get the acorns that grow

2. The acorn’s hat is bristly and fat
And the squirrels think it’s neat to get an acorn treat

3. It’s an evergreen and it’s the best that I’ve seen
So put your hands in the air and show that you care

Here’s a recording.