DESCRIPTION: A quatrain ballad, this describes the unseemly, unsanitary, unhealthy conditions and people in that state, at Yale, in Mobile, in Zamboanga or any other place disliked by the singer.
EARLIEST DATE: 1844, when a version of the song was published in New York City by Atwill. Said to date from a song about the Irish famines, "Over Here."
KEYWORDS: bawdy scatological humorous
FOUND IN: Australia Canada Britain(England) US(MA,MW,NE,So,SW) New Zealand
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Cray, pp. 49-53, "In Kansas" (4 texts, 1 tune)
Belden, pp. 428-429, "Kansas" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Randolph 344, "In Arkansas" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 280-282, "In Arkansas" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 344A)
Randolph-Legman I, pp. 265-267, "In Kansas" (4 texts, 1 tune)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 495-496, "In Kansas," "Potatoes They Grow Small (In Kansas)" (2 texts)
Welsch, pp. 53-54, "In Kansas" (1 text)
Fife-Cowboy/West 32, "In Kansas" (2 texts, 1 tune; the first belongs here, while the second is "Way Out West in Kansas")
Lomax-FSNA 204, "In Kansas" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Greenway-AFP, pp. 212-213, "In Kansas" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 43, "In Kansas" (1 text)
ST EM049 (Partial)
Chubby Parker, "In Kansas" (Conqueror 7894, 1931)
Art Thieme, "In and Around Nashville" (on Thieme06)
cf. "Over There (I - The Praties They Grow Small)" (tune & meter, floating lyrics)
cf. "Way Out West in Kansas" (theme)
The 'Taters They Grow Small
NOTES: Cray and Legman have historical notes, disagreeing on the origin of the American bawdy song. - EC
Given that this appears to be a clear parody of "The Praties They Grow Small," but that the 1844 version precedes the worst of the potato blights, the song origins are indeed mysterious. One suspects that the 1844 text is not the "full version," but a predecessor (the more so as Kansas was beyond the usual settlement line in 1844).
Randolph reports that "several old-timers have told me that this piece was written by an Missourian named Beecham or Beecher, shortly after the Civil War." He does not believe the story, however, and certainly this can only refer to the local adaptation.
There is no clear dividing line between this and "The Praties They Grow Small"; there are versions of this piece that are short enough and clean enough to belong with either. But, as often happens, we must classify them separately because the extremes are so distinct. - RBW
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