Ry Cooder - My Name is Buddy (2007)

1. Suitcase in My Hand
2 . Cat And Mouse
3 . Strike!
4 . J. Edgar
5 . Footprints In The Snow
6. Sundown Town
7. Green Dog
8. Dying Truck Driver
9. The Christmas In Southgate
10. Hank Williams
11. Red Cat Till I Die
12. Three Chords And The Truth
13. My Name Is Buddy
14. One Cat, One Vote, One Beer
15. Cardboard Avenue
16. Farm Girl
17. There's A Bright Side Somewhere

Ry Cooder

  (D) - (G) - (A)

Intro: D - G - D - G - A

(D) When I was still a kitten, (G) Daddy told me, (D) "Son,
There's just one thing that you should (A) know
As (D) through this world you ramble and (G) through this world you (D) roam
Just take this little (G) suitcase (A) when you (D) go

When the evening sun goes down and you're (G) tired of ramblin' (D) round
Just set her on the ground and climb right (A) in
You won't (D) ever have to worry (G) about the cold night (D) wind
When you got your little (G) suitcase (A) in your (D) hand."

Little (G) suitcase in my hand, I'm (D) rolling through this land
A mansion is much too big for (A) me
When the (D) stars come out at night (G) Everything will be alright
'Cause I (D) got this little (G) suitcase (A) my (D) hand

A hard-boiled egg's yellow inside
There's some in every crowd you will find
They're afraid to have to do an honest day's work
So they blame the workingman every time

But the harder they come, the bigger they fall
Just you hold your ground and take your stand
'Cause the free and independent life's still the best of all
When you got your little suitcase in your hand


Ry Cooder

C – F – G – Am 
G - C - D - Em
(if capoed up on 5)

Intro: C-F-C-Am-C-G-C (Actually taken from “Kelly, the boy from Killan”)

(C) I had an Uncle (Am) Charley, (F) back in my (C) hometown
Said, (C) “Don’t take no (Am) mouse to be your (G) friend
‘Cause they’ll (C) wait ‘til you’re (Am) asleep
And (F) steal your money and your (C) food
And (F) rat you out when the (G) police come (C) around

Later (F) on I started traveling, seeing (C) something of this world
And I (F) learned to know a thing or (G) two
Just (C) because you been (F) told a story (C) back in your (Am) hometown
Don’t (C) have to mean that (F) story’s (G) always (C) true

I remember it was winter and things were going bad
It rained and it snowed all day long
Nobody would feed me and I couldn’t find no job
In a factory or working on a farm
I was laying in my suitcase and the snow was falling down

I didn’t know what I was gonna do
When I heard a tiny voice out there in the dark
Saying, “Brother can I come in there with you?”

“Right here in my bag I got some real good cheese
And a crust of bread or two
If you let me come in there and get out of the snow
I’ll share what I got with you.”

Don’t take no mice to be your friend
Was the rule Uncle Charley always told
But the north wind kept howling and the snow kept blowing down
And I couldn’t leave him out there in the cold

He said his name was Lefty and he’d been out traveling round
The secrets of this world he’d share with you
Mouse traps are set left-handed get your cheese out from the left
We are many, Buddy, they are few

He said, “They’ll tell you lies to make you doubt your fellow man,
Like cats and mice just can’t get along
It suits the bosses Buddy, and it suits them fine
‘Cause it keeps us working folks from being strong.”

“There’s a better world a-coming, Buddy, which side are you on?
Don’t let the big men take it, Buddy, which side are you on?
It’s your country too, Buddy, which side are you on?
It’s time to take a stand, Buddy, which side are you on?
Boy it’s a fact mice ain’t no good—
Old Charley always said they’ll treat you bad,
But I’m here to tell you people and I want it understood
Lefty is the truest friend I ever had.

Ry Cooder

  (D) - (G) - (A)

(D) I got off the train one evening in a (G) little mining (D) town
I started walking up the main street when the (E) sun was going (A) down

When I (D) heard some voices singing, so I (G) went to see what (D) for
Might just be a birthday party, might be room for (A) just one (D) more

It was miners and their families, they had left the mine that day
Walked out for safe conditions, on strike for decent pay

And they sang about their struggle, and their spirit never failed
Keep your hand upon the dollar and your eye upon the scale

Union (G) miners stand to(D)gether, heed no (A) operator’s (D) tale
Keep your (D) hand upon the (G) dollar and your (D) eye u(A)pon the (D) scale

All at once police came running, they came running everywhere
They broke up that miners’ meeting, carried everyone to jail

But the miners kept on singing and they sang the whole night through
When the sun rose in the morning I had learned that miners’ song

The judge he asked to police captain, “What’s that red cat doing here?”
“Get all the reds off the streets, sir, was your orders loud and clear.”

They turned me out of the jailhouse back door, but I wouldn’t leave my miner friends,
I jumped back to the jailhouse window and I sang that miners’ song again.


4 . J. EDGAR
Ry Cooder

 Capo on 1st fret: (D) - (G) - (A)
(Don't try to get in tune with the CD. It's way off.)

(D) Down on the farm we had a pig, J. (A) Edgar was his (D) name
He’d eat up all our victuals and (A) start back up a(D)gain
Just (G) like the vacuum cleaners they (D) sell down in the (A) lane
Well (D) that’s how J. Edgar (A) Hoover got his (D) name

Now mama baked a cherry pie and set it out to cool
So we’d have something good to eat when we got home from school
J. Edgar climbed up on the porch and ate up all that pie
When we got home that morning we heard our mama cry

J. Edgar, J. Edgar, just look what you’ve (G) done
You (A) ate up all the cherry pie that was for every(D)one
We made it through the dusters, and the hoppers (G) too
But God (A) help us J. Edgar ‘cause nothing’s safe from (D) you

We had an extra man named Bob, he wouldn’t work a lick
He drank bad moonshine likker, and it always made him sick
We rode to church on Sunday and stayed a while in town
When we reached home at suppertime, poor Bob could not be found

He wasn’t in the parlor, and he wasn’t in the lane
Drinking in the pantry or sleeping in the hay
His hat was in the pigpen, that he always wore
Poor Bob won’t be drinking moonshine likker anymore

J. Edgar, J. Edgar, it just don’t seem fair
You ate Bob the hired man while we were at prayer
Let’s say a prayer for poor old Bob, and our country too
God help us, J. Edgar, nobody’s safe from you

Traditional, new lyrics by Ry Cooder

(G) - (C) - (D)

(G) Well, some folks like the summertime when (C) they can walk about
(D) Strolling through the meadow green is pleasant there’s no (G) doubt
But to me the wintertime (C) is the best of all
‘Cause I (D) found her when the snow was on the (G) ground

I traced her little footprints in the (D) snow
I found her little footprints in the (G) snow
I bless that happy day when (C) Nellie lost her way
‘Cause I (D) found her when the snow was on the (G) ground

Now the Ladies Garment Workers walked out last wintertime
One little union kitty was a dear sweetheart of mine
She walked around all winter, on the picket line
But I found her when the snow was on the ground

Now the union strike committee didn’t like me hanging round
Don’t interfere with sisters while the strike is on
Don’t go around behaving like a ring-tailed tom
But I found her when the snow was on the ground


She’s somewhere out there marching with a union band
We’ll get back together when the pension check comes in
But every time the snow falls it brings back memories
‘Cause I found her when the snow was on the ground


6. SUNDOWN TOWN (the Reverend Tom Toad)
Ry Cooder & Joachim Cooder

(A) - (D)

Mine eyes have seen the beauty of a land bright and fair
My soul looked out and wondered, can we make the journey there
But I’ve lost my sight and I have to be led
I mean to work for justice ‘til I’m dead

Sundown town, sundown town
Don’t let ‘em catch you, Buddy, when the sun goes down
There won’t be no more friends around
Don’t let ‘em catch you, Buddy, when the sun goes down

I used to preach and I used to pray
Was the prayin’est man that you ever did see
But they ran my people off one day
Now there ain’t nobody round that looks like me

We used to sing and we used to shout
Was the shoutinest church that you ever did see
But I ain’t going to preach and I ain’t going to sing
And I don’t feel at home in this town no more


If you black, you better get back
If you brown, don’t you hang around
If you red, you might be dead
If you ain’t white man, you just ain’t right


Ry Cooder

Walking ‘cross the desert, it ain’t no fun
Too hot in the daytime, too much sun
Lefty says we’ll cross at night-time
Like my people have always done
Keep moving, quit nagging
Walk don’t run

I ask Lefty, why’d we bring so much cheese?
Coyotes Buddy, just you wait and see
Coyotes eat anything Buddy, long as it’s free
Suppose they want a little something extra Lefty?
Might be you and might be me

The desert’s dark and the desert’s deep, stars everywhere
Something like you never see sitting in your easy chair
Watch out Lefty, something strange is coming down
Look out! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a flying tin can
Got those coyotes on the run

Out steps a green dog, as green as he can be
Or maybe she, ‘cause when they’re wearing space suits
You can’t tell, ‘cause you can’t see

“In my world, toads are purple, mice are blue, and I declare,
a red cat is really something new
I’m so far from home, can you tell me what should I do?
“Do you think there is room for me in this strange land?
I’m sorry I scared your friends
I write poetry, teach astronomy, how about me?
“In my world everyone is a friend
Shaking hands, saying how do you do
Guess you’d notice we all look the same,
It’s so tame,
I’d rather take a chance here with you.”
Let’s ride, says Lefty, let’s see how fast this crate can fly.
Va-va-voom, says Lefty, watch the coyotes scatter,
Watch the towns go streaking by
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino, just won’t do
Go west, you green dog, Hollywood’s the place for you
Green dog, green dog, green dog, you’re so rare

Ry Cooder

Capo on 5th fret: (C) - (F) - (G)

(C) We made our way up 99 in the (F) springtime of the (C) year
The San Joaquin was all in bloom and (D) songbirds every(G)where
We (C) chanced upon a workingman (F) lying by the (C) road
I judged him for a truck driver by the (G) clothes that he (C) wore

We drew some nearer to him then, inquiring of his name
“Well, here’s three little angels come down for to carry me home
Then, bear me up to Jesus now, my Savior I shall see
You ain’t no regular angels boys, but that’s alright by me.”

Then Lefty, stepping forward, addressed the dying man
Saying, “We’re no angels brother but we’ll do all we can.
What cowards set upon you, sir, and dealt the fatal blow?
We’ll pull out every working man from here to Ohio.”

“It was no vigilante gang, nor ranch boss thugs this time,
But the meatloaf special dinner I had on highway 99
A comely waitress served me there, she cooled me with her fan,
But fatal meatloaf has struck down this old truck driving man.”

Then Lefty reached down in his bag saying, “You ain’t dying friend,
Just take a drink of whiskey now, you’ll feel alright again.”
All through the night we lingered there and passed that bottle round
We hauled aboard at sunrise, lit out for Frisco town.

Now, the workingman must be well warned whenever headlines scream
“Your rights must yield, the bombs must fall to save democracy.”
The flag they fly, their stew of lies served up at voting time
Like poison under the gravy on highway 99

Ry Cooder

  (D) - (G) - (A)

(D) You got no credit and (A) I’ve got no (D) cash
That bonus they gave us were (A) nothing but (D) trash
You been laid off at Goodyear, I been (G) laid off at Hughes
It (A) looks like a bad year, there just ain’t no use
“Cause it’s (D) Christmas in Southgate, you (A) been a true friend
I (D) ain’t never been much of a church going (A) man
But I’d (D) even give up drinking (G) whiskey and gin
If (A) Jesus and Santa ever get back down to (G) Southgate a(D)gain

Well, the telephone rang and it jumped off the wall
Says, we’re sorry, Buddy, but we can’t place your call
‘Cause Jesus don’t answer, Santa ain’t got back yet
what’s a poor old Red Cat got a right to expect?
So I called up my banker to ask for a loan
Said, it’s Christmas Eve, Buddy, there ain’t no one home
Then I called up my preacher and he said, We’re through
What the heck is a poor old Red Cat gonna do?

I’d work any job just to clear a day’s pay
Except for being President of the old USA
That’s dirty work, Lefty, no future, it’s true
I’d rather drink up my last nickel with you


Ry Cooder

(A) - (D) - (E)

(A) You been over at the jukebox, mister, all this after(D)noon
Playing (A) Hank Williams records for a (E) dime
Well, I (A) may be just a cat to you, but I know that heartbreak (D) tune
And I’m proud to say Hank (A) Williams was a (E) real good friend of (A) mine

I never asked for money or his autograph, you see
‘Cause I don’t need too much to get along
I just liked to sit there with him and keep him company
Who says cats can’t understand a real good country song?

You think you know the man inside your little radio
All the trials and heartaches he’s been though
To you he’s just a country star, to me he’s just a friend
No you don’t know Hank Williams like I do

Some nights we’ll go out riding in his great big car
With the little radio that’s built right in
I’d sit up front there with him and his old guitar
And listen while the DJ played “Your Cheatin’ Heart” again

“Well, Buddy, you know there’s something strange about trying to live a life of fame, you see
It’s supposed to make me happy, all it does is worry me
Nobody else seems to understand the things that I go through
Only time I feel peaceful is when I’m riding round with you

You’ve heard it on the radio, Hank has passed away
In the back seat of that Cadillac, it’s true
To you he’s just a legend now, to me he’s still a friend
No, you don’t know Hank Williams like I do

Ry Cooder

(E) - (A) - (B)

(E) I’m a Red Cat till I die, I’m a Red Cat through and through
You can’t turn me yellow and you can’t make me blue
You can’t (A) make me do things I know it’s wrong to do
I’m a (E) Red Cat till I (B) die I’m telling (E) you

A bunch of sneaking deputies came a-snooping round
They grabbed me in the alley whilst I was laying down
They threw me in the wagon and then they ran me in
They locked me in the jailhouse with all my hobo friends

Saying, “Where’s that rat named Lefty? Where’s that frog named Tom?
Been agitating lately and spreading great alarm.
The cows walked out this morning, now the hens won’t lay,”
Said, “You’re going to wreck this country and it ain’t the American way.”

I said I ain’t no strikebreaker and I ain’t no stoolie rat
Won’t squeal on Tom and Lefty, won’t say where they’re at
You can’t scare me copper, and I don’t care what you do
I’m a Red Cat till I die I’m telling you

Now, you think you’re hard-boiled, you’re just yellow inside
My daddy always warned me, now I know he’s right
You’re just cowards hiding behind a little tin star
The people are starting to realize what a bunch of clowns you are

I might have been a banker without the least excuse
I might have been the President, but tell me what’s the use
Might have been an FBI man but I ain’t no Peeping Tom
Might have been a deputy and put my white sheet on

But I’m a Red Cat till I die, I’m a Red Cat through and through
I won’t fight your rich man’s war and kill poor folks for you
You can’t make me do things I know it’s wrong to do
I’m a Red Cat till I die I’m telling you

Ry Cooder & Joachim Cooder

Verses are G - F - C
Chorus is Bb - Eb - F

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night standing in the prison yard
They were taking poor Joe, chained and bound, to a Utah firing squad
He turned and looked at me right then, saying, “Don’t you be misled,
They’re trying to tear our free speech down, and Buddy, they ain’t near quit yet.
See they framed me on a killing charge, you know I wouldn’t lie to you
But the only crime here that I have done was three chords and the truth

Three chords and the truth, three chords and the truth
The only crime that Joe Hill done was three chords and the truth
He sang his good old union songs, he got his message through
But they couldn’t stand to hear a workingman sing three chords and the truth

Old J. Edgar Hoover liked to hear the darkies sing, till one man changed that all around
Paul Robeson was a man that you couldn’t ignore, that’s what drove old J. Edgar down
He called up his New York Klan boy-friends, saying I got something good for you
Get right down there to Peekskill, New York town, and kill three chords and the truth

Three chords and the truth, three chords and the truth
The only crime you ever got from Paul was three chords and the truth
If this is the land of democracy, I got one question for you
Why wasn’t Paul Robeson set free on three chords and the truth

They took Pete Seeger before the law and put him on the witness stand
But he stood right up to tyranny with just a banjo in his hand
Such a righteous banjo picker watching out for me and you
That was just a man who wouldn’t back down on three chords and the truth

Three chords and the truth, three chords and the truth
The only crime Pete Seeger done was three chords and the truth
He sang his freedom songs real good, still getting his message through
Better check out old Pete Seeger on three chords and the truth

Ry Cooder

My name is Buddy, don’t you pity me,
Don’t you pity me, don’t you pity me
Just because I ain’t so big you think I’m small
Well, you think I’m small, now you think I’m small
You go around with your head up in the clouds
You just tall, that’s all, you just tall, that’s all

Now, if you like your tree, better watch out for your tree
Watch out for your tree, Lord, that tree ain’t free
The birds won’t be round just to keep you company
Keep you company, keep you company

If you like your little backyard, better watch out for your backyard
Don’t let ‘em put a toll road right through your backyard

You go around with your head up in the clouds
Head up in the clouds, your head up in the clouds
Well, you ain’t so big, you just tall that’s all

Now this land was made for you and me
Better watch out for your land,
Better watch out for your land

Ry Cooder & Joachim Cooder & Jared Smith

Hey bartender, what you say?
I’m gonna get drunk on election day!
Want one glass of bourbon, one glass of rye
Come on, set me up Joe, don’t pass me by!
My money’s alright but my feet’s got sore
See I been trying to vote, ‘bout an hour or more
I tried but I didn’t get nowhere
Joe, I just don’t think they’re doing this voting fair and square

Better make it one cat, one vote and one beer
Bartender, one cat, one vote and one beer

See, I went downtown to the voting room
‘Cause I wanted to get my voting done soon
the man said, “We’re gonna have to do a little checking on you!”
come back a little later on and said,
“Well, Buddy, you know, your vote just can’t go through
says you been dead, ten years back, we’re sure not gonna take a vote off a dead red cat!”
“What you say?”
“Step aside now, you’re interfering with the election process, that’s a crime”
“The crime is you!”
“Well, Buddy, voting is something I just don’t think you’re going to do”


now, I’m gonna drink a little gin and some mellow wine
then I’m gonna try that voting machine out just one more time
‘Cause democracy is in our hands, but it’s slipping through our fingers just like sand
I’m worried for you, sure worried for me, watching the election coming round on the TV
Voting is closed, we already lost the race
Might as well meet me down to Little Joe’s Place


Ry Cooder

(A) - (D) - (E)

(A) Well, thank you for the drink my friend, (D) that’s al(E)right with (A) me
Let’s (E) drink to the (A) workingman wherever he might (E) be
Remember what he (A) stood up for and the (E) struggles he went through
Then, (A) let’s take a (D) little stroll down (E) Cardboard Ave(A)nue

Down on the street where I live, when evening comes around
No TV or radio, never hear a lonesome sound
Except some poor joe crying, Lord, can I make it up to you?
But he never gets an answer down on Cardboard Avenue

Here’s my little heartbreak hotel, now don’t you be let down
When the ghost of Hobo Bill comes a-shuffling round
He might pause by your side, saying, Buddy can you spare a dime or two?
Then he’ll just drift off into the night on Cardboard Avenue

I hear the whistle blowing now, must be the Red Ball train
We’ll see you in the North Country, when the springtime comes again
Just ask the workingman, wherever you might be
The whereabouts of Reverend Tom, Lefty Mouse and Buddy
And if he asks you, were you in the fight, did you join the strike of 1932?
Just tell him that you knew us down on Cardboard Avenue

Ry Cooder

Capo on 2: (Am) - (C) - (F) - (G)

We ran out of cheese in Galeta Town
As we sat right down by the big oak tree
Little farming town by the deep green sea
Watch the tide roll out, watch the tide roll in

Farm girl walking along,
Singing a song by the big oak tree
Farm girl how would you like to be
Friends with a poor boy like me

Mama always says strangers can be friends
Come along with me it’s almost suppertime
We don’t have too much, set yourself right down
Tell me who you are, tell me where you’ve been

Then Revered Tom he says, “Thank you for this day
I had never dreamed that we’d get this far
Bless this little place, everybody here
There’s a brighter side, I can see it clear

Farm girl, walking along,
Singing a song by the big oak tree
Farm girl how’d you like to be
Friends with a poor boy like me

Farm girl, walking along,
Seen some hard times in the country
Farm girl, still got the time to be
Friends with a poor boy like me

Traditional, new lyrics by Ry Cooder

Capo on 2:   C - F - Am - G

There’s a bright side somewhere
There’s a bright side somewhere
I ain’t gonna rest until I find it
There’s a bright side somewhere

There’s more love somewhere
There’s more love somewhere
I ain’t gonna rest until I find it
There’s a bright side somewhere

People got a good job somewhere
Got a lot of good friends somewhere
Got a little suitcase, got a little family,
Over on the bright side somewhere