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The Ann Arbor Tenant Song, lyrics

Song: The Ann Arbor Tenant Song
Lyrics: Kathy Taylor

Music:
Year: 1971
Genre: Traditional
Country: USA


Come all ye weary tenants, and listen to me song,
I'll sing for ye a verse or two; it's about a familiar wrong,
Of nine poor unfortunates as ever did fall pray,
To the injustice of the Establishment and the Ann Arbor(2) screwlords' ways.
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Now the place that they had rented was down on old East U(3).
A wretched old rooming house of a kind well known to you;
But if ye think they were taken in, ye better listen first,
That old rat-hole was bad enough but ye haven't heard the worst.

The fellow that they rented from, an ugly little toad,
Knew all the ins and outs of the City Housing Code,
His rents were beyond reason, his lease a legal sham,
His place was a dangerous fire-trap, and he didn't give a damn.
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Now being an A-square(4) landlord, he knew just how to lie,
He promised repairs, he promised to clean, he promised the stars in the sky,
But every time the rent fell due the landlord would come and say,
"I'll take care of that tomorrow but I need yer checks today."

About the time the plumbing broke down, the tenants began to fight,
For the upstairs toilet was leaking into the downstairs ceiling light,
Their begging and pleading brought no results, as they came to realize,
So they got their shit together and began to organize.

They told the landlord, "No more rent," till he brought the place up to par,
Says he, "I'm up to all yer tricks and this won't get ye far,
I'm suing for eviction, so ye might as well move out",
And then commenced the battle that I'll now tell ye all about.
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The landlord broke into their rooms while the tenants were out one day,
He took the doors off the hinges and he hid them safe away,
And one of the boys had a pistol and a permit if ye please,
The landlord took the pistol too, just to set his mind at ease.

The tenants fought him blow for blow, they knew they had a case,
They bought new doors, they got new locks, and they always locked the place,
But the landlord played the burglar and moved some of their stuff away,
The tenants stole it back that night; it 'twas "cat and mouse" they'd play.

Now the tenants wanted justice so they took the man to court,
But the judges aren't long on justice when yer money's running short,
And the landlord being a law student, he knew just how to proceed,
He obtained the Summary Judgment and evicted eventually.

And now me story's over but before I end me song,
God stay between ye all and the landlords, and preserve ye from this wrong,
Now ye've heard about the "rent strike"(5) I will it may go far,
But take me hint and never rent a room from James G. Farrar.


Notes:

1 - If you have any additional information on the origins of this song it would be appreciated.

2 - Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America.

3 - "East U", is East University Avenue.

4 - "A-square" a local reference for Ann Arbor.

5 - The Ann Arbor Tenants Union was created in 1968, mostly by students from the University of Michigan, to coordinate a city-wide rent strike that started with 12,000 tenants and lasted two years. At that time about 90% of rental units did not meet the City Housing Code. The group organized more rent strikes from 1975-1977 and again in 1985. An archival version of the former website for the Ann Arbor Tenants Union, from 2002.