The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162023   Message #3854276
Posted By: Joe Offer
10-May-17 - 02:11 PM
Thread Name: DTStudy: The Devil Made Texas / Hell in Texas
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Devil Made Texas / Hell in Texas
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
KEYWORDS: Devil humorous Hell
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)
ADDITIONAL: Hal Cannon, editor, _Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering_, Giles M. Smith, 1985, pp. 55-56, "Hell in Texas" (1 text)

Roud #5104
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.


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

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

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

Brown University Library (another version)