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Arlo Guthrie

Genres: Rock

Story Of Reuben Clamzo & His Strange... Lyrics - Arlo Guthrie

by Arlo Guthrie 


Wanna hear something? You know that Indians never ate 

clams. They didn't have linguini! And so what happened 

was that clams was allowed to grow unmolested in the 

coastal waters of America for millions of years. And 

they got big, and I ain't talking about clams in 

general, I'm talking about each clam! I mean each one 

was a couple of million years old or older. So imagine 

they could have got bigger than this whole room. And 

when they get that big, God gives them little feet so 

that they could walk around easier. And when they get 

feet, they get dangerous. I'm talking about real 

dangerous. I ain't talking about sitting under the 

water waiting for you. I'm talking about coming after 



Imagine being on one of them boats coming over to 

discover America, like Columbus or something, standing 

there at night on watch, everyone else is either drunk 

or asleep. And you're watching for America and the 

boat's going up and down. And you don't like it anyhow. 

But you gotta stand there and watch, for what. Only he 

knows, and he ain't watching. You hear the waves 

lapping against the side of the ship. The moon is 

going behind the clouds. You hear the pitter patter of 

little footprints on deck. IS THAT YOU KIDS? IT AIN'T. 



Imagine those little feet coming on deck. A clam twice 

the size of the ship. Feet first. You're standing 

there shivering with fear, you grab one of these. This 

is a belaying pin. They used to have these stuck in 

the holes all around the ship probably didn't 

know what this is for; you probably had an idea, but 

you were wrong. They used to have these stuck in the 

holes all along the sides of the ship. Everywhere. 

You wouldn't know what this is for unless you was that 

guy that night. 


I mean, you'd grab this out of the hole, run on over 

there, BAM BAM on them little feet! back into the 

ocean would go a hurt, but not defeated, humungus 

giant clam. Ready to strike again when opportunity 

was better. 


You know not even the coastal villages was safe from 

them big clams. You know them big clams had an inland 

range of about 15 miles. Think of that. I mean our 

early pioneers and the settlers built little houses 

all up and down the coast you know. A little inland 

and stuff like that And they didn't have houses like 

we got now, with bathrooms and stuff. They built little 

privies out back. And late at night, maybe a kid would 

have to go, and he'd go stomping out there in the 

moonlight. And all they'd hear for miles around... 

(loud clap/belch) less kid for America. One more 

smiling, smurking, humungus giant clam. 


So Americans built forts. Them forts. You know them 

pictures of them forts with the wooden points all 

around. You probably thought them points was for Indians. 

But that's stupid! 'Cause Indians know about doors. But 

clams didn't. Even if a clam knew about a door, so what? 

A clam couldn't fit in a door. I mean, he'd come stomping 

up to a fort at night, put them feet on them points, jump 

back crying, tears coming out of them everywhere. But 

Americans couldn't live in forts forever. You couldn't 

just build one big fort around America. How would you go 

to the beach? 


So what they did was they formed groups of people. I mean 

they had groups of people all up and down the coast form 

these little alliances. Like up North it was call the 

Clamshell Alliance. And farther down South is was called 

the Catfish Alliance. They had these Alliances all up and 

down the coast defending themselves against these 

threatening monsters. These humungus giant clams. And 

they'd go out there, if there was maybe fifteen of them, 

they'd be singing songs in fifteen part harmony. And when 

one part disappeared, that's how they knew where the clam 

would be. 


Which is why Americans only sing in four part harmony to 

this very day. That proved to be too dangerous. See, what 

they did was they'd be singing these songs called Clam 

Chanties, and they'd have these big spears called clampoons. 

And they'd be walking up and down the beach and the method 

they eventually devised where they'd have this guy, the 

most strongest heavy duty true blue American, courageous 

type dude they could find and they'd have him out there 

walking up and down the beach by himself with other chicken 

dudes hiding behind the sand dunes somewhere. 


He'd be singing the verses. They'd be singing the chorus. 

And clams would hear 'em. And clams hate music. So clams 

would come out of the water and they'd come after this one 

guy. And all you'd see pretty soon was flying all over, 




FINALLYTHEMANWOULD jump over a big sand dune, roll over 

the side, the clam would come over the dune, fall in the 

hole and fourteen guys would come out there and stab the 

shit out of him with their clampoons. 


That's the way it was. That was one way to deal with them. 

The other way was to weld two clams together. l don't 

believe it. I'm losing it. Hey. What can you do. Another 

night shot to hell. 


Hey, this was serious back then. This was very serious. 

I mean these songs now are just piddley folk songs. But 

back then these songs were controversial. These was 

radical, almost revolutionary songs. Because times was 

different and clams was a threat to America. That's right. 

So we want to sing this song tonight about the one last... 

You see what they did was there was one man, he was one 

of these men, his name will always be remembered, his 

name was Reuben Clamzo, and he was one of the last great 

clam men there ever was. He stuck the last clam stab, 

the last clampoon into the last clam that was ever seen 

on this continent. 


Knowing he would be out of work in an hour. He did it 

anyway so that you and me could go to the beach in 

relative safety. That's right. Made America safe for the 

likes of you and me. And so we sing this song in his 

memory. He went into whaling like most of them guys did. 

And he got out of that when he died. You know, clams was 

much more dangerous than whales. Clams can run in the 

water, on the water or on the ground, and they are so big 

sometimes that they can jump and they can spread their 

kinda shells and kinda almost fly like one of them flying 



You could be standing there thinking that your perfectly 

safe and all of a sudden WHOP....That's ' true...And so 

this is the song of this guy by the name of Reuben Clamzo, 

and the song takes place right after he stabbed this clam 

and the clam was, going through this kinda death dance 

over on the side somewhere. The song starts there and he 

goes into whaling and takes you through the I next... 


I sing the part of the guy on the beach by himself. I go 

like this: "Poor old Reuben Clamzo" and you go "Clamzo Boys, 

Clamzo". That's the part of the fourteen chicken dudes over 

on the other side. That's what they used to sing. They'd be 

calling these clams out of the water. Like taunting them, 

making fun of them. Clams would get real mad and come out. 


Here we go. I want you to sing it in case you ever have an 

occasion to join such an Alliance. You know some of these 

Alliances are still around. Still defending America against 

things like them clams. If you ever wants to join one, now 

you have some historic background. So you know where these 

guys are coming from. It's not just some 60's movement or 

something, these things go back a long time. 


Notice the distinction you're going to have to make now 

between the first and easy "Clamzo Boys Clamzo" and the 

more complicated "Clamzo Me Boys Clamzo". Stay serious. 

Folk songs are serious. That's what Pete Seeger told me. 

"Arlo I only want to tell you one thing...folk songs are 

serious". I said "right". Let's do it in C for Clam... 

Iet's do it in B...for boy that's a big clam... Iet' s do 

it in G for Gee, I hope that big clam don't see me. Let's 

do it in F...for he sees me. Let's do it back in A...for A 

clam is coming. Better get this song done quick. The Story 

of Reuben Clamzo and His Strange Daughter in the Key of A. 


1. Oh poor old Reuben Clamzo 

(I) Clamzo boys Clamzo 

Oh poor old Reuben Clamzo 

(II) Clamzo me boys Clamzo 


2. Oh, Reuben was no sailor 

(Clamzo boys Clamzo) (Refrain I) 

So they shipped him on a whaler 

(Clamzo me boys Clamzo) (Refrain II) 


3. Because he was no beauty (Ref. I) 

He would not do his duty (Ref. II) 


4. Because he was so dirty (Ref. I) 

We gave him five and thirty (Ref. II) 


5. Oh Reuben Clamzo's daughter (Ref. I) 

She begged her dad for mercy (Ref. II) 


6 She brang him wine and water (Ref. I) 

And a bit more than she oughta (Ref. II) 


7 Well he got his seaman's papers (Ref. I) 

He's a terror to the whalers (Ref. II) 


8.And he sails where 'er the whalefish blow (Ref I) 

As the hardest bastard on the go (Ref. II) 


9 Oh poor old Reuben Clamzo (Ref. I) 

Oh poor old Reuben Clamzo (Ref. II) 

Are you remember?


Artist: Fat Jon


Artist: Vamps