Willow Run: A Country Music Classic Gets The Lyrics It Deserves

Some of you may be familiar with the 1980 country classic “Willow Run” by Detroit-born country star Randy Barlow… one of many Barlow recordings that made the Billboard charts. The original lyrics are touching and describe the heartfelt wish of a line-worker father for a more choices in life for his son.

Now that the good line jobs are drying up as manufacturing moves overseas, we have a new appreciation for them because although hard and monotonous, they allowed working men and women to raise families in comfort with a few “lifestyle extras.” Their loss is certainly bittersweet.

Randy To The Rescue!

Well… Randy Barlow himself rewrote the lyrics because he is proud of his hard-working Dad, wanted to turn the lyrics to tell a fuller history of the Willow Run factory, and assist in the effort to Save The Willow Run Bomber Plant!

And Randy acted as producer for Michigan musician Denny Luce, in re-recording this great old Randy Barlow tune with Randy’s new lyrics telling the full story of Willow Run, the crown jewel of the WWII’s Arsenal of Democracy, and later GM’s Powertrain transmission plant. Willow Run produced B-24 bombers at the rate of one per hour at the height of World War II, thus turning the tides of war.

Scroll below to listen as country great Randy Barlow, along with Michigan singer Denny Luce, help us to honor the men and women who kept Willow Run “running” from 1941 to 2010. It’s a song to warm your heart and make you proud, and just try to keep a tear away from the corner of your eye. Thanks, Randy, for writing this classic song in the first place… and also for the great new lyrics! And thanks for singing the song, Denny!

PS: You can re-connect with country legend Randy Barlow on Facebook here, and collect his hits like “Slow and Easy,” No Sleep Tonight,” “Fall in Love With Me,” “Sweet Melinda,” and of course “Willow Run,” on CD or MP3 by clicking here. New fans can learn more about Randy at his website here . You can hear a clip of Randy’s original recording with his original lyrics of Willow Run here.

Listen to Randy Barlow’s NEW Lyrics to his old country classic “Willow Run” (as performed by Denny Luce)

Willow Run

©2011 Frebar Music BMI
Music and lyrics: Randy Barlow
performed by: Denny Luce

Now there’s some land that lies just west of Detroit city
It’s a place that all America should know
And what was built to keep us free, back in 1941
Was a factory in a place called Willow Run

A B-24 rolled out the door, one every hour
Night and day the bombers flew away
Then the war was finally over, and a new age had begun
In the factory at a place called Willow Run

Oh Willow Run, you keep on running forever in my mind
So many lives depended on your old assembly line
We kept our country strong, we didn’t bend to any one
When that workingman was working
On that line at Willow Run

For 50 years, she served the people of our nation
Building cars, trucks, families and dreams
There’s a feeling of pride that can never be undone
In the factory in a place called Willow Run

Oh Willow Run, you keep on running forever in my mind
So many lives depended on your old assembly line
We kept our country strong, we didn’t bend to any one
When that workingman was working
On that line at Willow Run

When that line was running strong… At Willow Run

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Skilled Workers Served in WWII at Ford’s River Rouge Plant

At the Arsenal of Democracy conference at Willow Run, I met a man who had worked in the skilled trades at the Ford River Rouge complex, and had been apprenticed to an older man, after the war. One day they were talking about World War II, and he asked the older man, where had he served during the war?

“I served right here at River Rouge,” he answered. It turns out, when Ford found out the guy had been drafted, Henry Ford signed a letter stating that he was critical to plant operations, and was needed more at River Rouge than overseas. Of course, Ford had the power to do this because his plants, as well as all of Detroit’s auto industry, were busy producing the war materiel needed to fight.

The next day, the older tradesman brought in the framed letter, with Henry Ford’s signature. He still had it!