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The Ballad of Augie Mattsen

Words and Music by Charlie Maguire-Copyright Mello-Jamin Music All Rights Reserved

This song is the continuation of the story of one man's life, begun by Wood Guthrie in his song, "1913 Massacre." Augie was a child-survivor of that infamous Christmas-time fire in Calumet, Michigan in 1913, which was the subject of Woody's song. In 1925 when my song takes place, Augie was involved in union activities in Ironwood, Michigan. This story was told to me by Augie's son, Arvo, a third-generation union man in Wisconsin whom I met after a singing job at a U.A.W. fund raiser in 1974. Until the time of our meeting he had never heard of Woody's song.

Play Sample

To play like Charlie, Capo 2-Play "D" chord progression.

D                    C        G-A
You can stay if you live for money
D                    C        G-A
You can stay if you live for fame
D                                            C         D
But if you live with hope, or for something you can't explain
C             G           D
You had better be on your way
C              G           D
You had better be on your way

D              C       G          D
In Ironwood, Michigan up in the pine
D                  C               G-A              
When the iron came freely from the ground
D                 C          D
Pabst Number 9, caved in one day
         C     G          D
And the lucky ones gathered around, on top
C            G              D
The next of kin gathered 'round

Additional Verses

The owner rubbed his face with a fine handkerchief
And his speech was soft and low
He said "There is twenty-five, and we think they are still alive"
Caught in the dark down below, but they haven't long
Crying in the iron down below

Then the boss raised his voice, so all could hear
He told everyone clear and plain
"This company" he said, "will offer one-thousand dollars
To the man who'll bring those miners up again.
So who will bring those miners up again?"

There was some talk, then a boy stepped to the front
Young "Blackie" was his name
But when he felt the harness buckle tight across his chest
"It was more like a noose" he did say, "around my neck!"
"I'm not the man!" he did say

Then a Finn named Augie the others knew well
Picked his way through the crowd and he said
"Hand me that harness, and strap me in
Save your money to bury the dead!" He looked at the boss
"Save your money, to bury the dead!"

They lowered him down, into the iron
Of old Pabst Number 9
But he could not get by, so they tried Number 7
And he brought out 20 men still alive, unharmed
Twenty men still alive

The thousand dollars that Augie refused
Went to the families of the five
And the company gave him a medal of gold
And a promise of a job all his life, so they said
A promise of a job all his life

Now the finish of this story, I'm sorry to tell
It does not end with this show
For the same men that hailed him with great ceremony
Lake drove him from his Michigan home, for organizing
Drove him from his Michigan home


Previous Songs: I Like It Here/O Cold and Misery * Fine Old Lady * The Teton Dam * Goodnight Baby * The B. C. Rail * Play Us a Waltz * Ozawindib * Long Way to Another Friend * Itasca: A Place of Beginnings * I'm From Minnesota * The Strike Is On * Mary Gibbs * The C.C.C. * Interstate of Broken Hearts * Rainfall Has Turned to Snow * Gypsy Woody * We'd Go To Town (And Go Dancing) * Towboat * L'Etoile Du Nord * The Hinkley Fire * Fall Is Here * Itasca * Winter on the Farm * Darling * Fine Old Lady * Sam Smith * Getting In The Cows * Talking Home Improvement

This month's song


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