Ration Blues (I Wonder What's the Matter)

DESCRIPTION: "Well, I wonder what's the matter, What's the matter with Captain Mac, He done got mad.... I've got the ration blues...." The singer tells of being sent out to cut wood, and sugar, but the land apparently does not yield even when cleared
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1964 (recorded from Jesse Hendricks by Jackson)
KEYWORDS: work prison hardtimes
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Jackson-DeadMan, p. 85, "Ration Blues" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES: Jackson, noting that the Texas prison system did not ration prisoners' food, speculates that the version he recorded from Jesse "G. I. Jazz" Hendricks comes from a popular song which he cannot locate.
However, I note another Texas prison song, "I Wonder What's the Matter," recorded by the Lomaxes in 1934. I incline to think that that may have been the origin of this song. Perhaps commodity rationing during World War II would have brought in the references to rationing? Prisoners, after all, would have a harder time swapping things, or buying them on the black market, than those outside, and so would be more affected by the restrictions. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.4
File: JDM085

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 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.