History Obituaries Religion

Utah Phillips (1935-2008)


Utah Phillips died last Saturday night. Although I never met him, I feel like I’ve just lost a brother and could write a book about it just to tell you why. But I won’t.
You’re welcome. : )
I’ll just link over to this one song of his, “The Preacher and the Slave.”
It was written to put focus on the mis-use of power (political and religious) in America many decades ago.

And here are the lyrics. Perhaps they elicit something large and loving in the world that all people have in common.
But please do just one thing… Please do sing along and please do sing it loud:

“The Preacher and the Slave”

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
But when asked how ’bout something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die

And the Starvation Army they play,
And they sing and they clap and they pray,
Till they get all your coin on the drum,
Then they tell you when you’re on the bum

Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out
And they holler, they jump and they shout
Give your money to Jesus, they say,
He will cure all diseases today

If you fight hard for children and wife-
Try to get something good in this life-
You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

Workingmen of all countries, unite
Side by side we for freedom will fight
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we’ll sing this refrain

You will eat, bye and bye,
When you’ve learned how to cook and how to fry;
Chop some wood, ’twill do you good
Then you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye

The chorus is sung in a call and response pattern.

You will eat [You will eat] bye and bye [bye and bye] In that glorious land above the sky [Way up high] Work and pray [Work and pray] live on hay [live on hay] You’ll get pie in the sky when you die [That’s a lie!]

Thus the final verse becomes

You will eat [You will eat] bye and bye [bye and bye] When you’ve learned how to cook and how to fry [How to fry] Chop some wood [Chop some wood], ’twill do you good [do you good] Then you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye [That’s no lie]

About the author

tommyschmitz

Tommy Schmitz is a writer in Des Moines, Iowa.

He Grew up in Cincinnati's west side, spent nine years in the corporate world, then seventeen years running his own consultancy, mostly to automobile machinery makers in Japan, China and the US.

He lived in Tokyo from 1992 to 1999. Besides serving auto industry clients (Toyota, Honda, Denso, Robert Bosch, Mitsubishi) he was the first non-Japanese accepted by the government as a paid advisor to Japanese small and medium sized companies. (Chushokigyochou, Division of JETRO and MITI).

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