Mother Country


Written by John Stewart


John recorded ‘Mother Country’ four times.  The song is on  “California Bloodlines”, Capitol, 1969, best CD re-release is the double CD  “California Bloodlines/Willard”, Beat Goes On, 2001.  That´s the version you´ll find below. 

The song is also on  “The Phoenix Concerts”, double LP, RCA, 1974, CD re-release as  “The Complete Phoenix Concerts” (with two bonus tracks), Bear Family Records, 1990.  The third recording is on “A Night at Jimmy Duke´s – Johnny And The Nasty Britches”, Neon Dreams, 2002.  Last but not least, it´s on “The Americans Plus”, Neon Dreams, again 2002. 

Many fans consider this to be the greatest song ever written by the best songwriter ever.



Spoken Background - strings muffled with heel of hand and played with index finger in an almost marching beat.  Rhythm goes something like,

"(C)Dum-de-dum, de-de-(F)dum-da-(G)dum-da..."


(C)   (F) (G) (C)   (F) (G)


(C) There was a (F)story in the (G)San Francisco (C)Chronicle

That of (F)course I for(G)got to save,(C)

But it was a(F)bout a (G)lady

Who (C)lived in the 'good old (F)days',(G)

(C) When a (F)century was (G)born

(C) And a (F)century had (G)died,

(C) And a(F)bout these 'good old (G)days' 

(C) The old (F)lady re(G)plied,

(C)  (F) "Why, they were (G)just a lot of (C)people 

(F)Doing the (G)best they (C)could.

(F) Just a (G)lot of people(C) 

(F)Doing the (G)best they (C)could."

(F) (G)And then the lady (C)said (F) (G)that they (C)did it,

"Pretty (F)up and (G)walking (C)good."


(F) What(G)ever happened (C)to those faces in the (F)old photo(G)graphs?

(C) (F) I (G)mean, the little (C)boys...(F) (G) 

(C)Boys? (F)Hell, they were (G)men

Who (C)stood knee deep (F)in the Johns(G)town (C)mud

In the (F)time of that (G)terrible (C)flood, (F) (G)

And they (C)listened to the water,(F) (G)

(C) (F) That (G)awful (C)noise...

(F) (G)  (C)And then they (F)put a(G)way the (C)dreams

That be(F)longed to (G)little boys(C)...(F) (G)


(Play “unmuffled”)


(E)  And the sun is going (Am)down(D7) for Mister (G)Bouie

As he's (E)singing with his (Am)class (D)of nineteen-(G)two, (G7)

(C)”Oh, mother (F)country, (G)I do (C)love you. (F) (G)

(C)Oh, mother (F)country, (G)I do (C)love you” (F) (G)


("Muffled” again)


(C)  (F) I (G)knew a man (C)named E.A. St(F)uart,(G)

(C) Spelled (F)S.T.(G)U. (C) (F) A.(G)R.(C)T.

(F) And (G)he owned some of the (C)finest horses

(F)That I (G)think I've ever (C)seen,

(F) And (G)he had one (C)favorite, (F) a (G)champion,

(C) The old Cam(F)paigner,(G)

(C) (F) (G)And he (C)called her

(F)"Sweetheart (G)On Pa(C)rade", (F) (G)

(C) And she was (F)easily the (G)finest horse(C)

That the (F)good Lord (G)ever made.(C) (F) (G)

But old (C)E.A.Stuart, (F) (G)he was going (C)blind, (F) (G)

And he said, "Be(C)fore I go,

I (F)gotta (G)drive her (C)one more time."(F) (G)


(C)So people came from (F)miles a(G)round, (C)

And they (F)stood a(G)round the ring,(C) (F) (G) (C)

But (F)no one (G)said a word,(C)

You know, (F)no one (G)said a thing.(C) (F) (G) (C)

(F) Then (G)here they come,(C) (F) (G)

(C)E.A. Stuart (F) in the (G)wagon right be(C)hind, (F) (G)

(C) Sitting (F)straight and (G)proud, (C)

And he's (F)driving (G)her stone (C)blind. (F) (G)

(C) And would you (F)look at her,(G)

(C) Oh, she (F)never looked (G)finer (C)or went better (F)than to(G)day.

(C) It's (F)E.A. (G)Stuart (C) and the (F)old Cam(G)paigner,

(C) (F)"Sweetheart (G)On (C)Parade", (F) (G)

And the (C)people cheered,(F) (G)

(C)Why, I even saw a (F)grown (G)man (C)break right down and (F)cry,(G)

(C) And you (F)know it was (G)just a (C)little while later(F) (G)

(C) That old (F)E.A. (G)Stuart (C)died. (F) (G)


(Play “unmuffled”)


(E)  And the sun, it is going (Am)down(D7) for Mister (G)Bouie,

As he's (E)singing with his (Am)class (D)of nineteen-(G)two, (G7)

(C)”Oh, mother (F)country, (G)I do (C)love you. (F) (G)

(C)Oh, mother (F)country, (G)I do (C)love you.” (F) (G) (C)


© John Stewart, All Rights Reserved


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