The U-Liners, 2008, CD. This soulful CD is the first full-length release by Joe Uehlein and the U-Liners embodying the group's unique fusion of roots rock and Americana and featuring themes of hope, peace, justice and equality. The 17 tracks consist of a diverse mix of country, bluegrass and rhythm and blues, as well as the group's own versions of songs by folk and labor troubadours. Among the titles are "Three Weeks to Vegas," "I’ll Take a Melody," "Anna's Dance," "Dire Wolf," and Joe Glazer's labor classic, "The Mill Was Made of Marble." One of the U-Liners' original songs, "Down at the Half Moon Tonight," celebrates the food, music and atmosphere of a former favorite local haunt in the Washington, D.C., area, where the group is based and often performs.

Lyrics, Chords & The Stories Behind the Songs
You Can’t Giddyup By Saying Whoa!

You Can’t GiddyUp By Sayin’ Whoa!: When I left the AFL-CIO to work on climate change all my friends said I was crazy, and they were right, but they also said I should take things slow, that you can’t upset people. On that point, they were wrong. Having served on the UN commission on global warming for 17 years i knew we were out of time. And on income inequality four decades of inaction is inexcusable. Hence, You can’t giddy by sayin’ whoa!


You Can’t Giddyup by sayin’ whoa,
Ain’t gonna get ya where you want to go.
No time for movin; slow;
You can’t giddyup by sayin’ whoa.

Well people often tell me you can’t do things so fast;
Take it slow, be real careful, can’t upset the past;
But I just don’t know, I don’t see things quite that way;
Best I can tell we’re out of time so here’s what I’ve got to say!



We know we’re dumping carbon in the atmosphere,
It’s warming the earth, messin’ with the oceans, climate change is here.
We know what we’ve got to do, leave it in the ground;
Look to the sun, feel the wind, listen to the sound.



The rich are getting richer, all across the land;
The poor are getting’ poorer, the middle class is slammed.
We know what we’ve got to do to solve this one as well,
Tax the rich, give the workers a raise, tell the bankers to go to hell.


When all is said and done, we want more done than said.
It seems like in this world of ours you just can’t get ahead.
We bailed out the bankers, real quick when they messed things up.
The rest of us left holding the bag and for me I’ve had enough; so


Sweet Lorain

Sweet Lorain: Lorain, OH is where my story starts. USW Local 1104 played a huge role my upbringing. We lived 20 miles east of Lorain, between the giant steel mills in Cleveland and Lorain. Our social lives often including Lorain, OH, family, and USW Local 1104. The great Lake Erie and the working class looms huge in my culture.

When I was a young boy, my Dad said to me;
When you’re seventeen, you’re on your own, work in the factory.
That’s the way it was with him, he didn’t know another way to be.
That’s life like it was, along the banks of Lake Erie.

Sweet Lorain, smokestacks calling me
Sweet Lorain, Calling me

But Mom she had a different plan, said schoolin’ was the thing for me;
Don’t want to spend your time, working in the factory.
Go on, get out of this place, go see what you can be.
that’s life like it was, on the banks of Lake Erie.



All of these years have gone by and I still think about those days,
Local 1104, the mills and the haze;
The stories I tell my kids, they want to go see
Life like it was, on the banks of Lake Erie.


Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed: The true story. Thanks Michael Pollin, for writing The Botany of Desire, wherein I learned the true story of Johnny Appleseed.


Johnny Appleseed pedaled moonshine all across the land.
The legend about him got a little out of hand.
It’s about the wholesome apple, as the story goes.
But hard apple liquor, is what Johnny sold.

He lit out from Massachusetts, ‘cross Pennsylvania grade.
On to Ohio, the Northwest passage in those days.
South of Cincinnati to Kentucky he did go,
Then down the Ohio River with the seeds he did sow.

Guitar SOLO

The seed from the apple does not reproduce the tree.
A genetic complication, beyond you and me.
One in one-thousand trees give apples sweet enough to eat.
The rest are all spitters, moonshine sure to be.

Mando SOLO

VERSE 3: (not yet completed)
Along the Ohio River there’s a museum in his name,
Over in Ft. Wayne is where John Chapman passed away.
Festivals and country stores celebrate his fame.
Ole’ Smokey Moonshine makes apple liquor to this day.



Hands: Organizing workers to stand together to improve their conditions is a hard and often dangerous pursuit. In initial meetings many look down at their hands, not sure what to say, knowing that standing up and fighting for their rights is what they want to do, but not sure how to do it and protect their families. I wrote this song based on a poem by my friend, Stuart Acuff, which he called Hands. and I supplemented that theme with my own experiences organizing workers, especially dedicated to Pam and Roy in Chickasaw County, MS whose interactions with me inspired many of the lyrics in this song.

Verse 1:
I walked up to, her front door.
She works at the plant like everybody else.
Asked if I could come in and sit down.
Talk about workin’ on the other side of town.

Listenin’ with every part of me.
Talkin’ ’bout how dignity, can be found in a fight….
Standin’ for, what you know is right.

Verse 2:
She sat down, and looked at her hands.
Sore and thick from a hard day at work.
Like she was readin’ every line, on those hands;
That raised her family.



Verse 3:
I stepped down off her front porch.
Got in my car and drove back home.
Picked up my guitar, and sat down.
Wrote a song about working on the other side of town.

Chorus x2 and Out

Pilgrim Hill

Pilgrim Hill: Barry Warsaw, who plays bass and sometimes sings in The U-Liners, wrote this song, but I gave him the theme “we are outlaws, but we are not criminals,” which I got from my friend and former musical partner, Steve Magnuson. This hook captures how many of us who enjoy the cannabis plant feel. We’re doing nothing wrong, but we’re breaking the law.


Joe Hill's Will

Joe Hill’s Will: Joe Hill’s verbatim last will and testament, set to music by me. I am so proud of the band’s dark and ethereal take on this one!


My will is easy…….to decide;
For I have nothing…….to divide.
My kin don’t neeeeeeed to weep and moan;
Moss does not cling……to a rolling stone.


My body oh…….if I should choose;
I would to ashes…….it reduce.
And let some merry breezes blow;
My dust to where……some flowers grow.


And some faaaading flowers then;
Will rise up……and grow green again.
This is my last….and final will;
Good luck to aaallll of you; Joe Hill.

Water for Gold

Water For Gold: For Marcello Rivera and the people of El Salvador who rose up to protest the pollution of their water caused by gold mining companies from the North who thought the gold in those hills along the Lempe River belonged to them. I wrote this song based an article in the Nation magazine by John Cavanagh and Robin Broad. Marcello and others were assassinated for their activism as water protectors.

Verse 1:
The Lempa River runs through El Salvador,
Honduras, Guatemala, down to the shore.
Bringing fresh water to the people in the towns;
Farmers, Ranchers, everyone around.

They come from the North with their money and their guns
For the gold in the hills where the Lempa River runs.
Marcelo Rivera will never grow old,
Water for life, or is it water for gold;
Water for life, or is it water for gold.


Verse 2:
The people rose up in solidarity,
When their water was poisoned by the gold company.
Marching in the street, and murals on the walls,
Four dead in El Salvador.



Verse 3:
The rumble of the mountain, the rumble of the sea,
The rumble of the people who want to be free.
Marcello and others live no more,
How many killed in El Salvador.
No more, no more, in El Salvador.


Three Chords and the Truth

Three Chords & The Truth: Dedicated to those who practice the art of three chords and the truth. Originally a phrase coined by country music song writer Harland Howard, but often used to describe the music of Joe Hill, Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Joe Glazer, Si Kahn, Emma’s Revolution, Magpie, Steve Earle, Tom Morello, Billy Bragg, and more.


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.
Well he turned and looked at me right then
And said don’t you be mislead.
They’re trying to tear our free speech down
And buddy they aint near quit yet.
See they bring me on a killing charge
And know I wouldn’t lie to you.
But the only crime here that I done
Was three chords and the truth.

Three chords and the truth, Three chords and the truth
Yea the only crime that Joe Hill done
Was three chords and the truth.
Well he sang his union songs real good
He got his message through
But they couldn’t Stand to hear a working man
Sing three chords and the truth.

Old J Edgar Hoover liked to hear the darkies sing,
And one man changed that all around;
Paul Robeson was a man that you couldn’t ignore,
That’s what drove old J Edgar down.
Well he called up his NY Klan boyfriends,
And said I gotta somethin’ good for you,
Get right down there to Peekskill NY town
And Kill three chords and the truth.

Three chords and the truth, Three chords and the truth.
Well the only crime you ever got from Paul
Was three chords and the truth.
Now If this the land of democracy
I’ve got one question for you.
Why wasn’t Paul Robeson set free
On three chords and the truth?


Now 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.
Pete was just a man that wouldn’t back down
On three chords and the truth.

Three chords and the truth, three chords and the truth.
Well the only crime Pete Seeger done was three chords and the truth.
Yea he sang his freedom songs real good
He’s got his message through.
Pete Seeger was a man just wouldn’t back down on
Three chords and the truth.

Three chords and the truth, Three chords and the truth.
Pete Seeger was a man that just wouldn’t back down
On three chords and the truth.

Morning Song

Morning Song: I wrote this song for Pete Seeger who once told me that he woke up every morning and sang a song ~ a great way to start the day.

Sing a song in the morning sun;
Sing it loud and strong.
Sing a song when the sun comes up;
Sing a morning song.

We will see, how it will be
when we turn this thing around….
We will know, which way to go

Following the sound….


The world can be, as bright as we
Want it to be….
When we stand…..hand in hand





Desperation (for the children at the border): An instrumental that one day may have lyrics! I was moved to write this song for the thousands of children, with and without their parents, from Mexico and elsewhere in Central America amassed at our southern border fleeing violence and death in search of a better way of life.



Coalminers: Written by Sarah Ogun Gunning, the wife of a coal miner in the early 1940’s, this song shows us that we have always questioned the destructive nature of capitalism.

Uncle Tupelo ~ Written by Sarah Ogun Gunning

Come, all you coalminers, wherever you may be;
And listen to the story, that I relate to thee;
My name is nothing extra, but the truth to you I tell;
I am a coalminer, and I’m sure I wish you well.

I was born in old Kentucky, in a coal camp, born and bred;
I know about old beans, bulldog gravy and cornbread;
I know how the miners work and slave, in the coalmines every day;
For a dollar in the company store, for that is all they pay.


Mining is the most dangerous work in our land today.
Plenty of dirty, slaving work for very little pay.
Coalminers, won’t you wake up, and open your eyes and see;
What this dirty capitalist system, has done to you and me.

Dear miners, they will slave you until you can’t work no more;
And what will you get for your labor but a dollar in the company store;
A tumbledown shack to live in, snow and rain pouring through the top;
And you have to pay the company rent, the payments will never stop.


They take our very lifeblood, they take our children’s lives;
Take fathers away from children, take husbands away from wives.
Coalminers, won’t you organize, wherever you may be;
And make this a land of freedom, for workers, like you and me.

I am a coalminer, and I’m sure I wish you well;
Let’s sink this capitalist system, to the darkest pits of hell.


Voices: For the young people fighting global warming and climate change, and for the old folks joining them, but mostly for those not yet born, the voices from the future who are calling back and asking that we might see beyond our own time. Inspired by a poem by Terry Tempest Williams.

(with thanks to Terry Tempest Williams & Gus Speth for a few key phrases)

Been a loooooooong time comin’
Might be a loooong…….long time gone.

We’ve been traveling’ down this road, for so long.
Feels like the same old road, same old song.
There’s a bridge, at the edge, of the world.
Cross Over, to the other side.

The voices of the future,
Are calling back to us, and asking if we might.
See beyond our own time;
If we might……..See beyooooond, our own time.


With our backs to the future we’re pulled toward it.
Listening to the voices of the brave.
But we can’t hear the words through the noises,
Songs of heart and mind can’t have their say.

The voices of the future,
Are calling back to us, and asking that we might.
See beyond our own time;
if we miiiiiight, See beyond, our own time.

REPEAT INTRO instrumentally, then close with:

Been a loooooooong time comin’
Might be a looong, long time gone.

About Songs & Videos
All songs, words and music by Joe Uehlein © 2016


  • Pilgrim Hill: Barry Warsaw ©  2009
  • Joe Hill’s Will: Words by Joe Hill, Music by Joe Uehlein
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Ry Cooder
  • Coalminers: Words by Sarah Ogun Gunning; Music by Uncle Tupelo

For Live Recording With Audience, filmed live at Allyworld on February 27, 2016, at Airshow Studios, and all other U-Liner videos, see The U-Liners Youtube channel, or type in TheUliner’s Channel in Youtube and you will find us!

Credits for Allyworld videos:

Videographer: Jim Robeson

Live House Engineer: Collin Warren

Live Recording Engineer: Charlie Pilzer

Production Assistance: Mike Petillo, and Siena Marie Balotta Garman

NOTE: For the videos from our CD Release Concert at the Carroll Cafe, Jim Robeson shot the video, and Charlie Pilzer recorded the band.

On The U-Liners YouTube page you can find videos from our tributes to Woody Guthrie, and our tributes to Jerry Garcia, along with a selection of other songs as well.

Joe Uehlein: Acoustic Guitar & Vocals
Avril Smith: Electric Guitar, Vocals, Acoustic Guitar on Johnny Appleseed, mandolin on Desperation
Larry Ferguson: Drums and Percussion
Barry Warsaw: Bass
Jessica Lake: Vocals
Tom Espinola: Mandolin, Mandocello on Sweet Lorain and Water For Gold
Rickie Simpkins: Violin on You Can’t GiddyUp By Sayin’ Whoa!, Sweet Lorain, Johnny Appleseed, Water For Gold
Mindy McWilliams: Vocals and Violin on Pilgrim Hill and Voices

Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered at Airshow Studios,.
Recording and Mixing Engineer: Charlie Pilzer
Produced by Charlie Pilzer
Mastered by Randy LeRoy
Special Thanks to Mike Petillo for production assistance

Pilgrim Hill and Voices recorded and mixed by Marco Delmar at Recording Arts,

CD Cover Art/Design, Poster Art/Design: Becky Warren
Photos by Tacy Judd

Special Thanks
Most importantly, to my family ~ Lane, Julius, Justin, and Anna Grace, who put up with living with a musician. It could not have been easy through the making of any of my recordings. I could not have done this without them.

John Cavanagh & Robin Broad for writing the articles in the Nation magazine about gold mining in El Salvador that inspired Water For Gold.

Stewart Acuff for writing the poem, Hands, that inspired our song by that title, and to Pam and Roy in Chickasaw County, MS whose interactions with me inspired many of the lyrics in this song.

May Boeve for taking down all those yellow stickies on the wall at the Blue Mountain Center and handing them to me saying “why don’t you write some songs about this stuff.”

Harriet Barlow for founding and directing the Blue Mountain Center and making it such an amazing, inspirational, and creative place. A number of these songs were written at the Blue Mountain Center.

Terry Tempest Williams for writing her beautiful poem about the voices of the future calling back to us and asking that we might see beyond our own time. That poem inspired Voices.

Gus Speth for writing his book, Bridge at the Edge of the World, thus giving me a great line in the song, Voices.

The children of Mexico and Central America gathering at our southern border fleeing violence and looking for a better way of life. Our instrumental, Desperation, was inspired by their plight.

Michael Pollin for writingThe Botany of Desire, wherein I learned the true story of Johnny Appleseed.