The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4571   Message #24922
Posted By: Joe Offer
01-Apr-98 - 02:37 PM
Thread Name: Origins: The Big Rock Candy Mountain(s)
Subject: RE: Big Rock Candy Mountain--Burl Ives' version
Hi, Denver, the Digital Tradition database has versions of the song here and here. The first version is not exactly what Burl Ives recorded, but it's very, very close. On the MCA "Burl Ives Greatest Hits" CD, Burl sings that version, complete with references to cigarette trees. Maybe he recorded a children's version of the "Little White Duck" album - anybody got that one?
I have a 1953 edition of the "Burl Ives Song Book." It doesn't have either "Little White Duck" or "Big Rock Candy Mountain." Guess I'd better take it back for a refund, eh? Doesn't have "Little Bitty Tear" or "Mr. In-Between," either, but I'm kind of glad of that.
-Joe Offer-


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on the song:

Big Rock Candy Mountain, The

DESCRIPTION: The hobo arrives and announces that he is heading for the Big Rock Candy Mountain. He describes its delights: Handouts growing on bushes, blind railroad bulls, jails made out of tin, barns full of hay, dogs with rubber teeth, "little streams of alcohol"
AUTHOR: Unknown; popularized by Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (version by Marshall Locke & Charles Tyner published); see NOTES
KEYWORDS: hobo railroading dream food drink
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Lomax-FSUSA 79, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax- FSNA 221, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 884-886, "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, pp. 116-117, "Big Rock Candy Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 66, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenway-AFP, pp. 203-204, "(The Big Rock Candy Mountain") (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 61, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (1 text)
DT, BIGRKCND BIGROCK2 (BIGROCK3 -- bawdy parody)

Roud #6696
RECORDINGS:
Bill Boyd & his Cowboy Ramblers, "Hobo's Paradise (Big Rock Candy Mountain)" (Bluebird B-6523/Montgomery Ward M-7029, 1936)
Ben Butler, "Rock Candy Mountain" (Madison 1934, c. 1929)
Vernon Dalhart & Co., "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" (Edison 52472, 1929)
Jerry Ellis [pseud. for Jack Golding] "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (Champion 15646, 1928; Supertone 9342 [as Weary Willie], 1929)
Arthur Fields. Rock Candy Mountain (Grey Gull 4225/Radiex 4225/Madison 1934 [as Ben Butler], 1929)
Frankie Marvin, "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" (Columbia 1753-D, 1929)
Harry "Mac" McClintock, "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" (Victor 21704, 1928; Montgomery Ward M-8121, 1939); "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" (AFS 10,506 A4, 1951, on LC61) (Decca 5689, 1939) (on McClintock01)
Goebel Reeves, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (Perfect 13099/Conqueror 8470, c. 1935) (MacGregor 851, n.d.)
Pete Seeger, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (on PeteSeeger17) (on PeteSeeger27)
Hobo Jack Turner [pseud. for Ernest Hare] "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" (Diva 2807-G/Velvet Tone 1807-V, 1929)

SAME TUNE:
Fisher Hendley, "Answer to the Big Rock Candy Mountains" (Vocalion 02543, c. 1929/Regal Zonophone [Australia] G22174, n.d.)
Charley Blake, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain, No. 2" (Supertone 9556, 1929)
Bill Cox, "In the Big Rock Candy Mountains - No. 2" (Supertone 9556, 1929) [Note: Also issued as by Charley Blake, same record number]
Stuart Hamblen, "The Big Rock Candy Mountains - No. 2" (Victor V-40319, 1930)
NOTES [350 words]: A number of sources, including Sing Out!, Volume 30, Number 2 (1984) credit this to "Haywire Mac" McClintock, but the earliest date shows that the song precedes him. He did doubtless make it much more popular.
The concept of the song predates the Locke/Tyner version, too A seventeenth century piece, "Invitation to Lubberland," has words such as these:
The rivers run with claret fine, the brooks with rich canary,
The ponds with other sorts of wine to make your hearts full merry:
Nay, more than this, you may behold the fountains flow with brandy,
The rocks are like refined gold, the hills are sugar candy.
John Masefield published a text of "Lubberland" in his 1906 book "A Sailor's Garland," so that could have directly inspired the Locke/Tyner rewrite -- although there is reason to think Haywire Mac had already started working on the song in 1905.
Another possible source is "The Land of Cokaygne," found in the British Library MS Harley 913.
Also, there are accredited instances of wells and fountains with sweet or sour water -- in the case of the latter, a little sugar could make the water taste like lemonade. At least one of these seems to have been known as a "lemonade spring."
Most of the information cited here comes from Jeffrey Kallen and Jonathan Lighter and Abby Sale. I wish I could disentangle it more, but the rest is all very speculative. I would add one other parallel, L. Frank Baum's first significant fantasy, Adventures in Phunnyland, written in the 1890s (published 1900 as A New Wonderland). According to Katharine M. Rogers, L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz, 2002 (I use the 2003 Da Capo press edition), p. 59, in Phunnyland, "the ground is maple sugar, the rain is lemonade, and the snow is popcorn." And Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum, University of Kansas Press, 1997, p. 35, reports such features as paths made of taffy, mud that is jelly or chocolate, a plain of loaf sugar with boulders of rock candy, rivers of root beer or maple syrup, a lake of sugar syrup, and islands of whipped cream in a pond of custard. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.0
File: LxU079

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Here are the lyrics we have in our Digital Tradition Folk Song Database. They seem to be flawed.

THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN (DT)
(attributed to Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
He said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm heading for a land that's far away
Beside the crystal fountain
I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain*

cho: Oh, the buzzing of the bees in the cigarette trees,
By the soda water fountain
Near the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings
On the Big Rock Candy Mountain

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain,
It's a land that's fair and bright,
The handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
The boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the sleet don't fall and the winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain
You never change your socks
And little streams of alky-hol
Come trickling down the rocks
O the shacks all have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and gingerale too
And you can paddle all around it in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain
The cops have wooden legs
The bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The box-cars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the sleet don't fall and the winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain
The jails are made of tin
You can slip right out again
As soon as they put you in
There ain't no short-handled shovels
No axes, saws nor picks
I'm bound to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain

@hobo
filename[ BIGROCK2
TUNE FILE: BIGROCK
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