The Sinking Of The Reuben James

Album: The Asch Recordings (1944)
Play Video


  • The USS Reuben James was a battleship that was torpedoed by a German submarine on Halloween of 1941, becoming the first US ship sunk in World War II.
  • Woody Guthrie was staying at the Almanac House in Greenwich Village when he wrote this song. He recorded it with Pete Seeger, who was also staying there along with a few other folk musicians who often played to small crowds in the basement of the house.
  • The melody was derived from the song "Wildwood Flower," which was made famous by The Carter Family in 1928 but dates back to 1860 from "I'll Twine 'Mid The Ringlets" composed by Joseph Philbrick Webster. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jack - Trasheing, MO, for all above

Comments: 2

  • Alan Dixler from New JerseyFYI, the USS Reuben James was a destroyer, not a battleship.
  • Joe from Preston, CtThe Reuben James was a destroyer not a battleship.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

Steven Tyler of AerosmithSongwriter Interviews

Tyler talks about his true love: songwriting. How he identifies the beauty in a melody and turns sorrow into art.

Which Songs are About Drugs?

Which Songs are About Drugs?Fact or Fiction

"25 or 6 to 4" to "Semi-Charmed Life" - see if you can spot the songs that are really about drugs.

Shawn Mullins

Shawn MullinsSongwriter Interviews

"Lullaby" singer Shawn Mullins on "Beautiful Wreck," beating the Devil, and his writing credit on the Zac Brown Band song "Toes."

Ian Astbury of The Cult

Ian Astbury of The CultSongwriter Interviews

The Cult frontman tells who the "Fire Woman" is, and talks about performing with the new version of The Doors.

Daniel Lanois

Daniel LanoisSongwriter Interviews

Daniel Lanois on his album Heavy Sun, and the inside stories of songs he produced for U2, Peter Gabriel, and Bob Dylan.

Grammar In Lyrics

Grammar In LyricsMusic Quiz

Lyrics don't always follow the rules of grammar. Can you spot the ones that don't?