Saul Aarons "Old Paint"
Written by Saul Aarons and Mike Stratton

My daddy was a cowboy
And I'm follerin' his footsteps
Ridin' the range.
My chaps are wide, my shirt is red.
I'll wear my Stetson till I'm dead.
I keep my boots on the table.
I brand cows and turn 'em free
But the brand ain't what it used to be,
'Cause now I ride a horse with a union label.


Old Paint, Old Paint -
A prouder horse there ain't
'Cause my Old Paint
Is a horse with a union label.

(Repeat after each verse)

When I was a lttle feller
And I seen a cowboy picture,
My daddy told me,
"A cowboy's life is mighty lean
When he ain't herding cows on a movie screen,
So hear what you daddy's advisin':
When you swing your lariat,
You're one of the proletariat,
So find yourself a horse and start organizin'."

I went down to the old corral
To pick me out a broncho
Like my daddy told me.
I looked 'em over one by one
And there was a great big stallion
Like you won't find in no millionaire's stable.
He was wild and proud and free
And he pawed the sky and looked at me
And blazing on his side was a union label.

The foreman was standin' there
And said by God he'd ride him.
Paint, he just snickered.
'Cause the S.O.B. was a company man
Which is why he landed on his can
And ran home crying for mother.
But I showed Paint my union card
And he says to me, "Climb right on pardner,
I got plenty of room for a Union brother."

Now someday I'll be laid to rest
But I've got a feeling
Paint, he'll never die.
He'll thunder on through the wild mesquite
To be on time at a union meetin'
Strong and fearless and able.
And working people through the land
Will know who's good American
That rides on the horse with the union label.

Written for the satirical Cabaret T.A.C. (Theater Arts Committee) in the late 1930s, "Old Paint" captures the lively connection between labor politics and progressive theater during the Depression. This version was recorded by Aarons in 1941, with Pete Seeger on the banjo.

Illustration: Rebel Song Book (Rand School Press, 1935)

© Copyright Labor Arts Inc.