Songwriting credits for this song rest with the great Roy Acuff who had a hit with it in the 1930’s. Acuff admitted that he actually learned it from a young man whose name he did not know. Contrary to what first might be believed, the song is not about Social Security. Rather it is about the “Old Age Pension” movement spearheaded by Dr. Charles Townsend of California. His proposal would have provided income for retirees that would have had to be spent or returned. Even though there were over 5,000 “Townsend Clubs” throughout the country that collected 10 cents from each member for lobbying, his proposal was fiscally unsound. Not long afterwards Social Security legislation was passed.
According to the book Roy Acuff The Smokey Mountain Boy the song was written by Ralph Fulton and Sam “Dynamite” Hatcher in 1937
Just heard this for the first time on CHON from Whitehorse, one of my favourite online stations. I had to do some searching to figure out what the song was about. I guess Dr. Townsend is the “man that turned this country upside-down” mentioned in the last verse. Thanks for the info!
Glad you liked the song and the story. Townsend’s plan didn’t work but it nudged FDR towards proposing Social Security.