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The Sinking of the Reuben James

This song is by The Almanac Singers and appears on the album Dear Mr. President (1942) and on the compilation American Roots: A History of American Folk Music (1999).

Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James
Manned by hard working men both of honor and fame
She flew the stars and stripes of the land of the free
But tonight she's in her grave on the bottom of the sea

Tell me: what were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?
What were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?

One hundred men were drowned in that dark watery grave
When that good ship went down only 44 were saved
Was the last day of October we saved the 44
From that cold icy waters of that cold iceland shore

Tell me: what were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?
What were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?

It was there in the dark of that uncertain night
That we watched for the u-boats and waited for a fight
Then a whine and a rock, and the great explosion roared
And they laid the Reuben James on that cold ocean floor

Tell me: what were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?
What were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?

Now tonight there are lights in our country so bright
In the farms and in the cities they're telling of the fight
And now our mighty battleships
Will steam the bounding main
And remember the name of that good Reuben James

Tell me: what were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?
What were their names?
Tell me: what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?

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