Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day
Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line
'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl
They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl, but here's what they find
Now, the police at the port of entry say
"You're number fourteen thousand for today"

Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi

You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can't deal nobody harm
Or take your vacation by the mountains or sea
Don't swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are
You better take this little tip from me
'Cause I look through the want ads every day
But the headlines on the papers always say

If you ain't got the do re mi, boys, you ain't got the do re mi
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi


Lyrics submitted by sstennett

Do-Re-Mi Lyrics as written by Woody Guthrie

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, T.R.O. INC.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Do Re Mi song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

6 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Comment

    Do what is the Do-Re-Mi, exactly? any ideas? maybe a play on 'dough'-re-mi, meaning money?

    mopo976on June 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    "Do Re Mi" as in solfège (Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do), I'm guessing.

    dannsceolon March 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Right on the money.

    I got this from the Ry Cooder album "The ufo has landed"

    "Woody said you better have some money in your shoe if you're going to california"

    I am guessing not only do you need money but you need to know how to make best use of it cause you can get ripped off! He makes use of the dough here by creating some fun word play. Interesting song. I havent heard woody's yet, just Ry's.

    RiversideGuitariston July 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The song is about how California is a great place if you have money and is not as good if you do not. I guess some things do not change over 70 years.

    TBBlueson July 05, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    If you read John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" you'll get the connection. As I recall there's a scene in the book when the Joad family tries to enter California. As they are approaching the State Line, the CA state police have set up a barricade (like a border crossing) because they are trying to limit the number of Okies and other migrant workers entering the state.

    SusanBassPlayeron April 19, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Yes and the "Do" in "Do Re Me" does refer to money.

    SusanBassPlayeron April 19, 2011   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Fast Car
Tracy Chapman
"Fast car" is kind of a continuation of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." It has all the clawing your way to a better life, but in this case the protagonist never makes it with her love; in fact she is dragged back down by him. There is still an amazing amount of hope and will in the lyrics; and the lyrics themselve rank and easy five. If only music was stronger it would be one of those great radio songs that you hear once a week 20 years after it was released. The imagery is almost tear-jerking ("City lights lay out before us", "Speeds so fast felt like I was drunk"), and the idea of starting from nothing and just driving and working and denigrating yourself for a chance at being just above poverty, then losing in the end is just painful and inspiring at the same time.
Album art
Mountain Song
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell gives Adam Reader some heartfelt insight into Jane’s Addiction's hard rock manifesto "Mountain Song", which was the second single from their revolutionary album Nothing's Shocking. Mountain song was first recorded in 1986 and appeared on the soundtrack to the film Dudes starring Jon Cryer. The version on Nothing's Shocking was re-recorded in 1988. "'Mountain Song' was actually about... I hate to say it but... drugs. Climbing this mountain and getting as high as you can, and then coming down that mountain," reveals Farrell. "What it feels to descend from the mountain top... not easy at all. The ascension is tough but exhilarating. Getting down is... it's a real bummer. Drugs is not for everybody obviously. For me, I wanted to experience the heights, and the lows come along with it." "There's a part - 'Cash in now honey, cash in Miss Smith.' Miss Smith is my Mother; our last name was Smith. Cashing in when she cashed in her life. So... she decided that, to her... at that time, she was desperate. Life wasn't worth it for her, that was her opinion. Some people think, never take your life, and some people find that their life isn't worth living. She was in love with my Dad, and my Dad was not faithful to her, and it broke her heart. She was very desperate and she did something that I know she regrets."
Album art
Blue
Ed Sheeran
“Blue” is a song about a love that is persisting in the discomfort of the person experiencing the emotion. Ed Sheeran reflects on love lost, and although he wishes his former partner find happiness, he cannot but admit his feelings are still very much there. He expresses the realization that he might never find another on this stringed instrumental by Aaron Dessner.
Album art
Head > Heels
Ed Sheeran
“Head > Heels” is a track that aims to capture what it feels like to experience romance that exceeds expectations. Ed Sheeran dedicates his album outro to a lover who has blessed him with a unique experience that he seeks to describe through the song’s nuanced lyrics.
Album art
American Town
Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran shares a short story of reconnecting with an old flame on “American Town.” The track is about a holiday Ed Sheeran spends with his countrywoman who resides in America. The two are back together after a long period apart, and get around to enjoying a bunch of fun activities while rekindling the flames of their romance.