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)
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)
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)
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 [228 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. - RBW
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