Union Songs

The McCoy Hotel

A song by Jack Warshaw©Jack Warshaw 1966

In downtown Chicago bright steel glass and concrete
Rise over the city and people below
The McCoy Hotel stands on a dirty grey back street
Where winos and dropouts can come down and flop out
The tired and lonely get a room for one only
The old and the lame and you don’t need no name
When you come to Skid Row

The McCoy Hotel sleeps about eight hundred fifty
Arthur Bayer, age 60, is one who is low
Daily diet- two pints of red wine or cheap whiskey
And a chicken wire cage for a man at that stage
Each one 8 by 6 feet, seven dollars a week
And there’s hardboard for walls and no lights in the halls
And your skin really crawls
When you live on Skid Row

The McCoy Hotel’s landlord lives in a high tower
From the guests at the hotel he collects what they owe
Fine car and good friends with position and power
Where you see only beauty and the cops do their duty
Far away from the dwellings he’s buying and selling
In well chosen places with death on the faces
Of the men on Skid Row

High over the city the steel men are working
The Old Town is changing as new buildings grow
But behind the facades a figure is lurking
So important a person?
Well dressed and soft spoken?
Sincere and intelligent
An upstanding American
That landlord is chairman with honor and piety
Of the Housing Authority
And to Hell with Skid Row


Many thanks to Jack Warshaw for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection

Jack writes:
'The Chairman of The Chicago Housing Authority was revealed in the press to be one of the biggest slumlords in the city'

See more of Jack Warshaw's work in this collection.

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