Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

The Delinquent

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1959 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1987.

Oh the boy was on the bench,
And the judge was in the dock,
And the people on the jury
Were the people from the block.

Well, Costello was the lawyer,
And DeSapio was there,
And they made a lot of motions,
And their clamor filled the air,
And they said it was outrageous
That His Honor had to be
Hauled up before the common folk
And forced to make a plea.

But the (Chorus)

And the father of the boy,
He was prosecutor here,
And he made the accusation,
And he spoke up loud and clear,
And he pointed to the pris'ner,
A member of the bar,
And he said, "A crew of gangsters
Have put you where you are."

And the (Chorus)

And he said, "I am a voter,
But my vote is less than straw,
For the gunmen, they elect you,
And they're out beyond the law,
And the gangsters rule the city,
And they're gangsters, one and all,
From the financiers in Wall Street
To the clowns in city hall.


"So the boys in this big city
Learn the lesson, every one,
If you want to rule the Mayor
You will have to shoot a gun.
So they form their little street gangs
On the model that you give,
And the lesson that you teach them
Is, they have to kill to live.


"And their primer is the shakedown
From the time they shine a shoe,
And it's shake down or be shaken,
That's the rule they learn from you.
The machine that rules the city
Has no use for them at all
Till they have a gang to offer
That's as tough as city hall.


"Do you dare to sit in judgment
On this thing that you have made?
It is time you wore the handcuffs
And sat shivering afraid.
It is time to pass the sentence
Where the sentence ought to be.
It is time for you to answer,
And I rest my case," said he.


Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- The Muse of Parker Street

Malvina Reynolds recordings of this song:
---- Another County Heard From
---- American History in Ballad and Song, Vol. 2 (Folkways Records FH 5802, 1960)

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