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Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic

DigiTrad:
COTTON MILL BLUES
COTTON MILL COLIC
SEVEN CENT COTTON AND FORTY CENT MEAT


Related thread:
Lyr Req: 20 Cent Cotton, 90 Cent Meat (8)


harpgirl 19 Dec 02 - 11:47 PM
Stewie 20 Dec 02 - 04:06 AM
Stewie 20 Dec 02 - 04:10 AM
harpgirl 20 Dec 02 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Gerry 18 Feb 19 - 06:09 PM
GUEST,DonDay 20 Feb 19 - 12:12 PM
Dave Sutherland 20 Feb 19 - 05:27 PM
Jim Dixon 23 Feb 19 - 12:28 AM
GUEST,henryp 23 Feb 19 - 02:27 AM
GUEST,DonDay 24 Feb 19 - 10:55 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: COTTON MILL COLIC (David McCarn)
From: harpgirl
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 11:47 PM

COTTON MILL COLIC
As recorded by David McCarn, 1930.

A North Carolina musician who had considerable experience as a textile worker. McCarn recorded the song for Victor in Memphis Tennessee 19 May 1930.

When you buy clothes on easy terms,
The collectors treat you like measly worms.
One dollar down, and then, Lord knows,
If you don't make a payment, they'll take your clothes.
When you go to bed, you can't sleep.
You owe so much at the end of the week.
No use to colic; they're all that way,
Peckin' at your door 'till they get your pay.
I'm a-gonna starve; ever'body will
'Cause you can't make a livin' at a cotton mill.

When you go to work, you work like the devil.
At the end of the week, you're not on the level.
Payday comes; you pay your rent.
When you get through, you've not got a cent
To buy fatback meat, pinto beans.
Now and then, you get turnip greens.
No use to colic; we're all that way.
Can't get the money to move away.
I'm a-gonna starve; ever'body will,
'Cause you can't make a livin' at a cotton mill.

Twelve dollars a week is all we get.
How in the heck can I live on that?
I got a wife and fourteen kids.
We all have to sleep on two bedsteads.
Patches on my britches, holes in my hat,
Ain't had a shave since the wife got fat.
No use to colic; ever' day at noon,
The kids get to cryin' in a different tune.
I'm a-gonna starve; ever'body will,
'Cause you can't make a livin' at a cotton mill.

They run for a few days and then they stand,
Just to keep down the workin' man.
We can't make it; we never will,
As long as we stay at a lousy mill.
The poor are gettin' poorer; the rich are gettin' rich.
If I don't starve, I'm a son of a gun.
No use to colic; no use to rave.
We'll never rest till we're in our grave.
I'm a-gonna starve [or] nobody will,
'Cause you can't make a livin' at a cotton mill.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: Stewie
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 04:06 AM

Good song. McCarn happened to be passing through Memphis at the time of a Victor recording session in May 1930. 'Cotton Mill Colic' was based on his own mill experience in Gastonia, NC. He probably used as his model ''Leven Cent Cotton, Forty Cent Meat' by Bob Miller and Emma Dermer. McCarn (1905-1964) said this about the song:


If you were lucky enough to have a job, you didn't make very much and, in other words, wages didn't compare with the price of food. Food was always higher than the wages. In other words, if the cotton mill announced that they meant to raise a few cents, groceries would automatically go up before the raise come. So there was no point in the raise, it didn't help any; the wages probably made it a little worse. Some people had good jobs - I mean they didn't work too hard - but you didn't make too much and things got worse after that, especially after 'Twenty-nine'. And it was bad enough before! The way times were and the way things were going and the mills were running, I imagine that was where I got the idea for 'Cotton Mill Colic'.
[cf William Henry Koon in JEMF #40 - reprinted in booklet for 'Poor Man Rich Man: American County Songs of Protest' Rounder LP 1026].


McCarn wrote sequels for subsequent recording sessions: 'Serves Them Fine' and 'Rich Man, Poor Man (Cotton Mill Colic #2).

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: Stewie
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 04:10 AM

Sorry, in the last sentence in my above posting I typed it arse about. McCarn's song is 'Poor Man, Rich Man: Cotton Mill Colic #2'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 10:43 AM

...thanks, Stewie. I figured you would know something about it. I'll have time next week to post some more songs, I hope.    AbbyZ aka hg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 18 Feb 19 - 06:09 PM

There is a recording by Mike Seeger on Classic Labor Songs, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, SFW CD 40166.

I don't understand the line, "Haven't had a shave since the wife got fat." What does the wife's physical condition have to do with the man's ability to have a shave?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: GUEST,DonDay
Date: 20 Feb 19 - 12:12 PM

Gerry, It's obviously to signify a long period of time.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 20 Feb 19 - 05:27 PM

Hello Don; I learned the song from the Mike Seeger album mentioned above which I do believe I borrowed from you.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Feb 19 - 12:28 AM

You can hear David McCarn singing COTTON MILL COLIC at YouTube.

I assume "since the wife got fat" is a euphemistic way of saying "since the wife got pregnant." And since he has 14 kids, that's been a long time! He doesn't shave because he can't afford a razor.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 23 Feb 19 - 02:27 AM

Mill Fever - it wasn't always like this.

From Vermont History; A fever spread rapidly across Vermont and the states nearby in the years between 1820 and 1850. People called it "mill fever," but it was not an illness. It was a wave of excitement brought on by advertisements for "active and healthy girls" to work in the cotton mills of southern New England. Hundreds of young women left their families and farms to seek their fortunes in milltowns like Lowell and Chicopee, Massachusetts.

From American Heritage; In the 1830s and 1840s, the so-called mill girls who flocked to the mushrooming textile cities of New England were widely taken as one of the wonders of the New World. European travel writers invariably put Lowell on their list of must-visits, alongside an Indian encampment, a slave plantation, and Niagara Falls. Up close, the mill girls were impressive specimens of what seemed a new kind of woman. “Few British gentlemen,” wrote Scottish visitor Patrick Shirreff, after standing among a throng of young women in bonnets pouring from a Lowell cotton mill in 1835, “need have been ashamed of leading any one of them to a tea-party.”

By 1910, when Lewis Hine published his indelible photograph of a grimy 12-year-old factory worker standing barefoot in a Vermont mill, the New England textile industry had long ago stopped being a tourist mecca. Two years later the bloody “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, doomed the industry’s image once and for all. It was easy to forget how cotton had once seemed like a godsend to rural New England, and especially to the region’s young women.

However, there was also a physical disease.

From Wikipedia; Byssinosis, also called "brown lung disease" or "Monday fever", is an occupational lung disease caused by exposure to cotton dust in inadequately ventilated working environments. Byssinosis commonly occurs in workers who are employed in yarn and fabric manufacture industries. It is now thought that the cotton dust directly causes the disease. This disease often occurred in the times of the industrial revolution. Most commonly young girls working in mills or other textile factories would be afflicted with this disease. Symptoms; breathing difficulties, chest tightness, wheezing, cough. Byssinosis can ultimately result in narrowing of the airways, lung scarring and death from infection or respiratory failure. The term "brown lung" is a misnomer, as the lungs of affected individuals are not brown.

And it's Goodbye, Monday blues
Goodbye, card room fever
Cotton dust has got my lungs
You know I'm bound to leave you

Si Kahn


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Colic
From: GUEST,DonDay
Date: 24 Feb 19 - 10:55 AM

"Hello Don; I learned the song from the Mike Seeger album mentioned above which I do believe I borrowed from you."

Yes Dave, it's "Tipple, loom and Rail" and I still have it.
How's retirement by the way. How are you going to spend the time?


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