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DTStudy: The Devil Made Texas / Hell in Texas

DigiTrad:
HELL IN ARIZONA
HELL IN TEXAS


Joe Offer 10 May 17 - 02:00 PM
Joe Offer 10 May 17 - 02:11 PM
Joe Offer 11 May 17 - 04:43 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: The Devil Made Texas
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 17 - 02:00 PM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

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I came across a YouTube recording of this song by Ed Miller:

At first, I couldn't find lyrics at Mudcat, but then I discovered that Steve Winick had posted them as "Hell In Texas"

Thread #36328   Message #505173
Posted By: GUEST,Winick
12-Jul-01 - 02:57 PM
Thread Name: Songs About Hell
Subject: Lyr Add: HELL IN TEXAS

The Jam song that was mentioned is actually "Private Hell," though the way they sang it, it could easily be mistaken for "life in Hell."

BTW, "The Farmer's Curst Wife," which I mentioned in a previous post, is the same song as "Kellieburne Brae" and "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife."

I was reminded of another song about Hell in Texas:

HELL IN TEXAS

Oh, the Devil in hell they say he was chained,
And there for a thousand years he remained;
He neither complained nor did he groan,
But decided he'd start up a hell of his own,
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being shut in a prison pen;
So he asked the Lord if He had any sand
Left over from making this great land.

The Lord He said, "Yes, I have plenty on hand,
But it's away down south on the Rio Grande,
And, to tell you the truth, the stuff is so poor
I doubt if 'twill do for hell any more."
The Devil went down and looked over the truck,
And he said if it came as a gift he was stuck,
For when he'd examined it carefully and well
He decided the place was too dry for a hell.

But the Lord just to get the stuff off His hands
He promised the Devil He'd water the land,
For he had some old water that was of no use,
A regular bog hole that stunk like the deuce.
So the grant it was made and the deed it was given;
The Lord He returned to His place up in heaven.
The Devil soon saw he had everything needed
To make up a hell and so he proceeded.

He scattered tarantulas over the roads,
Put thorns on the cactus and horns on the toads,
He sprinkled the sands with millions of ants
So the man that sits down must wear soles on his pants.
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steer,
And added an inch to the jack rabbit's ear;
He put water puppies in all of the lakes,
And under the rocks he put rattlesnakes.

He hung thorns and brambles on all of the trees,
He mixed up the dust with jiggers and fleas;
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The heat in the summer's a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the Devil and too hot for men;
And all who remained in that climate soon bore
Cuts, bites, stings, and scratches, and blisters galore.

He quickened the buck of the bronco steed,
And poisoned the feet of the centipede;
The wild boar roams in the black chaparral
It's a hell of a place that we've got for a hell.
He planted red pepper beside of the brooks;
The Mexicans use them in all that they cook.
Just dine with a Greaser and then you will shout,
"I've hell on the inside as well as the out! "

Steve



And an interesting post from Nerd:

Thread #52845   Message #811215
Posted By: Nerd
25-Oct-02 - 01:38 PM
Thread Name: Looking for Irish in Tex/Mex Music/Lore
Subject: RE: Looking for Irish in Tex/Mex Music/Lore

Amos,

"Rocking the Cradle" is a British broadside of wide distribution. It's not necessarily any more Irish than "The Newry Highwayman," which overlays Irish place names on a core story that's obviously set in London. "The Unfortunate Rake," too, is first known from an English source. Since English descendants were in Texas before great numbers of Irish immigrants arrived, there's no way to demonstrate if "Streets of Laredo" or "Git Along Little Dogies" has anything to do with Ireland or "the Celts" per se. But clearly there's an affinity between Texas music and what we think of as "Celtic" music nowadays.

A good example with perhaps a clearer connection. "The Devil Made Texas" (aka "Hell in Texas") is a song that originally appeared on broadsides throughout the Southwest. Though the early broadsides don't suggest a tune, when the song was sung it was often to the old jig "The Irish Washerwoman." You can hear Hermes Nye do it on the album "Cowboy Songs on Folkways." The selection of tunes clearly shows an Irish influence in the region, though the words have no obvious connection to ireland.

Another great resource, by the way, would be Ed Miller in Austin, an Edinburgh native, folklorist, and great singer of folk songs. He's recorded "Hell in Texas" on one of his CDs.



The Robokopp Website has nearly identical lyrics:Robokopp calls traditional, but I doublt that. Anybody have source information?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Devil Made Texas / Hell in Texas
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 17 - 02:11 PM

Damn. The Traditional Ballad Index says the lyrics are in the Digital Tradition already. Wonder how I missed that. Here's the Ballad Index entry:

Hell in Texas

DESCRIPTION: The Devil, bored with Hell, decides it's time to expand the franchise. The sandiest place available is Texas; the Devil acquires a lease from God after negotiating the water rights. The Devil adds tarantulas, cacti, etc. and opens for business
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1910
KEYWORDS: Devil humorous Hell
FOUND IN: US(So,SW)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Randolph 196, "Hell and Texas" (1 text, 1 tune)
HIgh, pp. 41-42, "Hell & Texas Song" (1 text)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 397-399, "Hell in Texas" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife-Cowboy/West 27, "Hell in Texas" (3 texts -- one each for Texas, Arizona (this one properly filing with "Arizona") and Alaska, 1 tune)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 523-524, "Hell in Texas" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 681-683, "Alaska, or Hell of the Yukon" (1 text, the Fife's Alaska version)
DT, HELLTEXS*
ADDITIONAL: Hal Cannon, editor, _Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering_, Giles M. Smith, 1985, pp. 55-56, "Hell in Texas" (1 text)

Roud #5104
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Arizona" (theme)
NOTES: This song and "Arizona" clearly are related; one probably suggested and influenced the other. But there is no way to clearly demonstrate which came earlier, so I list them separately. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.3
File: R196

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Here are the DT lyrics, taken from Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs. Also in the DT from Lomax is "Hell in Arizona," which is very similar.
The lyrics to "Texas" are almost identical in Ozark Folksongs Volume 2, #196, by Vance Randolph. Randolph reports that Lomax says that the proprietor of the Buckhorn Saloon in San Antonio gave him a printed broadside of "Hell in Texas" in 1909. The proprietor claimed to have given away 100,000 copies of the broadside.

HELL IN TEXAS

Oh, the Devil in hell they say he was chained,
And there for a thousand years he remained;
He neither complained nor did he groan,
But decided he'd start up a hell of his own,
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being shut in a prison pen;
So he asked the Lord if He had any sand
Left over from making this great land.

The Lord He said, "Yes, I have plenty on hand,
But it's away down south on the Rio Grande,
And, to tell you the truth, the stuff is so poor
I doubt if 'twill do for hell any more."
The Devil went down and looked over the truck,
And he said if it came as a gift he was stuck,
For when he'd examined it carefully and well
He decided the place was too dry for a hell.

But the Lord just to get the stuff off His hands
He promised the Devil He'd water the land,
For he had some old water that was of no use,
A regular bog hole that stunk like the deuce.
So the grant it was made and the deed it was given;
The Lord He returned to His place up in heaven.
The Devil soon saw he had everything needed
To make up a hell and so he proceeded.

He scattered tarantulas over the roads,
Put thorns on the cactus and horns on the toads,
He sprinkled the sands with millions of ants
So the man that sits down must wear soles on his pants.
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steer,
And added an inch to the jack rabbit's ear;
He put water puppies in all of the lakes,
And under the rocks he put rattlesnakes.

He hung thorns and brambles on all of the trees,
He mixed up the dust with jiggers and fleas;
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The heat in the summer's a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the Devil and too hot for men;
And all who remained in that climate soon bore
Cuts, bites, stings, and scratches, and blisters galore.

He quickened the buck of the bronco steed,
And poisoned the feet of the centipede;
The wild boar roams in the black chaparral
It's a hell of a place that we've got for a hell.
He planted red pepper beside of the brooks;
The Mexicans use them in all that they cook.
Just dine with a Greaser and then you will shout,
"I've hell on the inside as well as the out! "

from American Ballads and Folk Songs, Lomax
@cowboy @devil
filename[ HELLTXAS
TUNE FILE: HELLTXAS
CLICK TO PLAY
RG

Postcard with lyrics to "Hell in Texas" (click)

Large Collection of "Hell in Texas" postcards (click)

Brown University Library (another version)


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Subject: ADD: Texas a Paradise
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 May 17 - 04:43 AM

From The Conductor and Brakeman, Volume 20 (page 516)

TEXAS A PARADISE
[By the author of "Hell in Texas," two years later after the drouth was broken.]

The Lord said He wished to show
To His erring children here below
That he had plenty in His store
For those who knocked at Heaven's door

And hence would give to some bright land
Samples of blessings from His right hand
And if you think there's cause to doubt it
Just listen to how God reasoned about it

These gifts I can't give to the states in the East
The weather's too damp for both man and beast
And the Northern states I consider together
I made a mistake when I made up their weather

For in blizzards and cyclones tornadoes and cold
No one can enjoy good gifts I am told
'Tis too cold, hence westward I will go
To the land where the fig and orange trees grow

For here it is true is a beautiful land
But there is the fogs and the dust and the sand
And those who enjoy these gifts as they must
Can't do it in the sand and the fogs and the dust

At last reaching Texas, a state of some size
He decided to give her His capital prize
And opening wide His bountiful hand
He dispensed His blessings all over the land

And hence we enjoy as these blessings of ours
Ten months in the year of the most beautiful flowers
And nights most delightful fanned by the breeze
That comes sweeping across her from over the seas

And Italy's skies with our own won't compare
Nor there land more fertile nor ladies more fair
And the grasses that grow on these ranges of ours
Are kept beautifully green by the sweet summer showers

And as we know, to enjoy our wealth
We must first secure the blessings of health
That health you can have if you come here in time
And enjoy the rich blessings of this sunny clime

And now to our friends in the East, North, and West
We want you to come here and with us be blest
For God never intended that we all alone
Should enjoy all these blessings that He has bestown.


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