Man Must Work to Live

Image and caption: Family group, workman and his family. Corpus Christi, Texas Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress) LC-USF34- 038268-D

Daddy said “Be sure you shine your shoes, son—
That’s the first thing that he’ll look at
A hiring man is quick to pass you over
If you give him an excuse”
Momma said “Be sure you say your prayers, child—
Though it seems like no one’s listening
Letting your Maker knows you’re thankful
Is the stand-up thing to do”
There’s a fear that you can smell, sir
When there’s way more love than money
And your folks are talking softly
‘Cause they don’t want you to hear
You can hardly catch each third word
Though you hold your breath to listen
But you can tell they’re up against it,
That signal’s crystal clear
It may be that the rent’s due
And the overtime ain’t come through
Or there’s furloughs at the factory
And something’s got to give
That’s the moment that it hits you
Though you’re barely out of diapers:
The hand that you’ve been dealt sir,
Is “man must work to live”
The hand that you’ve been dealt, sir
Is “a man must work to live”