Big Jim Bushey

This is a song about a real character I met while canoeing down the Bloodvein River in Northeastern Manitoba one fall. The name is changed, but I tried to keep true to his spirit.

Big Jim Bushey        C          ©1988 Dave Hadfield
C                                                    F                            C
He’s got long black hair, not too clean, whipping in the breeze;
F                     G                    C        G            C
In a 14 foot Lund fishing boat, doing what he please.
F                           G                                  C                         Am                           

And the 2 white tourists out with him are as green as he has seen,
F                                    G                               F                 G             C

But he’s out on the Bloodvein River, and that’s a damn-fine place to be.  

He remembers back when he was sent away to school;
Taken from his family and made to learn new rules.
And later that made him angry, and a bottle would make him burn,
But in good time he came to find it one more thing to learn.

G                                 F                         C

And Big Jim  Bushey is a guide on Larus Lake
F                      C                                                      G

Don’t make a lot of money, but he lives for livings sake;
C                        F               C                        Am
Goes fishing for the summer, hunting in the fall.
G                                                           F                G          C
He may not live like you and me, but that ain’t bad at all.

Big Jim married Susie, when he was 17.
He thought she was the cutest thing that he would ever see.
And now he’s got 4 daughters, and life is mighty good,
Though most days he don’t mind at all his job out in the woods.

Big Jim knows the river; he knows every little creek,
And how to please the tourists who pay a thousand bucks a week.
He’ll find an eight-pound walleye, or a northern like a shark,
He smiles a lot, don’t talk too much, and keeps ’em in the dark.


Big Jim knows that country. He hears the geese up high.
He knows before the ducks do when and where they’ll start to fly.
He sees the faintest deer trail — the tourists not a trace,
And so they wonder why he’s in “this god-forsaken place.”

I hear he had a haircut about halfway  through July.
There was money in his pocket and his throat was rather dry.
So he hopped a plane to Red Lake, and pulled out all the stops,
And the haircut took him 3 whole days and a week to sober up.


Big Jim knows the pickerel get smaller  every year,
And finding moose is harder than we’ve ever seen around here.
Logging roads can take him now where paddles used to go,
And all last year he never saw a wolf track in the snow.

No one knows the land here, like Big Jim and his friends.
It goes a whole lot further than just ways and means and ends.
He can’t turn the clock back — no longer can he roam,
But he wishes those who rape the land would stop and call it home.

[Chorus —repeat last line and end

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