I Don’t Want Your Millions Mister
I first heard this song when I was ten, sung by Sara Ogan Gunning, the great coalminers daughter from Kentucky. She sang it solo, just her voice, and she sang it hard. My father played it for me and I was mesmerised. Later that same year, at a bluegrass festival, I heard Ralph Stanley sing I Don’t Want Your Rambling Letters (with which I Don’t Want Your Millions Mister shared a melody and a righteous sense of injury). I realised, that afternoon, that songs are born of many things – hardship, joy, religion, heartbreak, other songs.
I Don’t Want Your Millions Mister was born of all these things.
It was written by Jim Garland, whose sister, Sara Ogan Gunning, wrote I Hate The Capitalist System. It was a hellava songwriting family.
Barbara Dane’s 1973 album is called I Hate The Capitalist System. It’s a great record, it’s not easy and it’s rough and it’s asking hard questions; it doesn’t apologise for anything. It’s what my father once answered when I asked him what made great music. Believe in what you’re singing, he said, and never apologise for anything.
“I don’t want your millions mister
I don’t want your diamond ring
all I want is the right to live
demanding my job back again.
We all worked to build this country
while you lived a life of ease
now you’ve stolen what we built
and my poor babies starve and freeze.”