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This is one of the few songs that I have actually written for a particular Artist. Larry Butler came to me and said he had a chance to produce Johnny Cash if he could find him a Hit Song.
Years before, I had worked for the Florida East Coast Railroad shops and had a foreman named Frank Oney that stood over and pushed his men to the point of slavery. I thought a song about him and what I'd liked to have done to him would be right down Cash's alley. I wrote it and took it to Butler. He recorded it on Johnny Cash, and I got letters from the Wall Street Journal requesting the lyrics on it to print in their paper. They said it was the first song they had ever heard about the working man. This was a Number 1, BMI award winning record, that I thought Johnny Cash performed to perfection!
I dedicate this song to the workin' man
For every man that puts in eight or ten hard hours a day
Of work and toil and sweat
Always got somebody lookin' down his neck
Tryin' to get more out of him
Than he really ought to have to put in
After twenty nine long years of workin'
In this shop with Oney standin' over me
Today when that old whistle blows
I'll check in all my gear and I'll retire
The superintendent just dropped by
And said they'd planned my little get together
Then he said I'd never a made it
If old Oney hadn't a held me to the fire
I've seen him in my dreams at night
And woke up in the mornin' feelin' tired
And old Oney don't remember, when I came here
How he tried to get me fired
With his folded hands behind him
Every mornin' Oney waited at the gate
Where he'd rant and rave like I committed murder
Clockin' in five minutes late.
But today they'll gather 'round me
Like I've seen 'em do when any man retires
Then old Oney's gonna tell me
From now on I'm free to do what I desire
He'll present me with that little old gold watch
They give a man at times like this
But there's one thing he's not countin' on
Today's the day I give old Oney his
I've been workin', buildin' muscles
Oney's just been standin' 'round a gettin' soft
And today about four thirty
I'll make up for every good night's sleep I've lost
When I'm gone I'll be remembered
As a workin' man who put his point across
With a right hand full of knuckles
'Cause today I show old Oney who's the boss
Hmmmm, what time is it? Four thirty?
Oney! Ha ha ha ha!
Words and Music by Jerry Chesnut