King Harvest (Has Surely Come)

The Band

About King Harvest (Has Surely Come)

"King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" is a song by The Band, which originally appeared as the final track on their second album, The Band. The song is credited solely to guitarist Robbie Robertson, although drummer/singer Levon Helm claimed that "King Harvest" was a group effort. It is sung in the first person from the point of view of a poverty-stricken farmer who, with increasing desperation, details the misfortune which has befallen him: there was no rain and his crops died, his barn burned down, he has ended up on skid row. A labor union organizer appears, promising to improve things, and the narrator tells his new associates, "I'm a union man, now, all the way", but, perhaps ashamed of his station, begs them to "just don't judge me by my shoes." The events depicted in the song are most likely a reference to the organizing drives of the Trade Union Unity League, which created share-cropper unions from 1928 to 1935, throughout the U. S. South. The rock critic Greil Marcus called it "The Band's song of blasted country hopes" and suggested that "King Harvest" might be Robertson's finest song and the best example of the group's approach to songwriting and performing. Author Neil Minturn praised its "dark, eerie earnestness."The song's structure is unusual: the verses, sung by pianist Richard Manuel, are energetic, while the choruses (sung by Manuel and Levon Helm) are more subdued, in contrast to typical song structure. This change possibly reflects the desperate if unsure hope the protagonist holds in the union. 


Year:
1975
51 
#1

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Corn in the fields
Listen to the rice when the wind blows 'cross the water
King Harvest has surely come

I work for the union 'cause she's so good to me
And I'm bound to come out on top
That's where she said I should be
I will hear every word the boss may say
For he's the one who hands me down my pay
Looks like this time I'm gonna get to stay
I'm a union man, now, all the way

The smell of the leaves,
From the magnolia trees in the meadow
King Harvest has surely come

Dry summer, then comes fall,
Which I depend on most of all
Hey, rainmaker, can't you hear the call?
Please let these crops grow tall

Long enough I've been up on Skid Row
And it's plain to see, I've nothing to show
I'm glad to pay those union dues,
Just don't judge me by my shoes

Scarecrow and a yellow moon,
And pretty soon a carnival on the edge of town
King Harvest has surely come

Last year, this time, wasn't no joke,
My whole barn went up in smoke
Our horse Jethro, well he went mad
And I can't remember things bein' that bad

Then there comes a man with a paper and a pen
Tellin' us our hard times are about to end
And then, if they don't give us what we like
He said, "Men, that's when you gotta go on strike"

Corn in the fields
Listen to the rice when the wind blows 'cross the water
King Harvest has surely come

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The Band

The Band were a Canadian-American roots rock group that originally consisted of Rick Danko (bass guitar, double bass, fiddle, trombone, vocals), Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Garth Hudson (keyboard instruments, saxophones, trumpet), Richard Manuel (piano, drums, baritone saxophone, vocals) and Robbie Robertson (guitar, vocals). The members of the Band first came together as they joined rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins's backing group, The Hawks, one by one between 1958 and 1963. more »

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Written by: Robbie Robertson

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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