This song was written for the American Student Union’s musical, “Pens and Pencils” in 1938. During this period, Texas Congressman Martin Dies was the head of the Dies Committee on Un-American Activities, , which was an earlier version of the McCarthy Committee that focused its main attack on the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, then serving his second term as president.

Shakin’ the Dies (1939)
By Henry Foner


There’s a guy from down in Texas  
Terrorizing both the sexes –  
Tryin’ to go around and paint the whole town red.  
If you learn this brand new pastime,  
You can make sure it’s the last time  
That anyone would rather be Dies then dead.


First you move in the groove with the proper inflection – 
Then everybody starts to rise.  
Your left foot tap and your fingers snap –  
Then start shakin’ the Dies.

You get hep and you step in a forward direction –  
And then you watch the folks get wise.  
Then you all steer clear of that Texas steer –  
That’s how we’re shakin’ the Dies.

When the word gets ‘round that he’s comin’ to town,  
You don’t have to head for Philly.  
There’s no need to hide or to swallow your pride –  
Just step right up and make him look silly.

So let’s slip him a tip in the ’40 election  
And put an end to all his lies.  
When he hops a freight for the Lone Star State,  
We’ll have shaken the Dies – (Come seven!)  
We’ll have shaken the Dies.