Goober Peas

DESCRIPTION: "Sitting by the roadside, on a summer's day... Lying in the shadows underneath the trees, Goodness how delicious, Eating goober peas." The southern soldier complains about army life, the battles, and the poor equipment; goober peas are his chief comfort
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: food Civilwar nonballad
REFERENCES (12 citations):
Jackson-PopularSongsOfNineteenthCenturyAmerica, pp. 73-75, "Goober Peas" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnold-FolkSongsofAlabama, p. 100, "Goober Peas" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Silber-SongsOfTheCivilWar, pp. 184-186, "Goober Peas" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-SoldierSongsAndHomeFrontBalladsOfCivilWar, pp. 54-55, "Goober Peas" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett-IHearAmericaSinging, p. 82, "Goober Peas" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-TreasuryOfSouthernFolklore, p. 715, "Eating Goober Peas" (1 text, 1 tune)
Messerli-ListenToTheMockingbird, pp. 158-160, "Goober Peas" (1 text)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, p. 351, "Goober Peas" (1 text)
Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 10, "Goober Peas" (1 text)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 276, "Goober Peas" (1 text)
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 276, "Goober Peas" (notes only)

ST RJ19073 (Full)
Roud #11628
New Lost City Ramblers, "Goober Peas" (on NLCREP4)
NOTES [331 words]: First published in 1866 (with words credited to A. Pindar and music to "P. Nutt"!), we know from outside references that this song was popular with southern soldiers in the Civil War. It is particularly accurate as a description of the last few years of the war, when the complete breakdown of Confederate industry left the soldier ragged, and the loss of farmland and rail lines left them starving. Peanuts -- "goober peas" -- often served as an emergency ration for soldiers in Georgia and other parts of the south.
Stories about Georgians and peanuts apparently go back to the very beginning of the war. Warren Wilkinson and Steven E. Woodworth, A Scythe of Fire: A Civil War Story of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment, William Morrow, 2002, pp 41-42, tell a story from the summer of 1861, before the First Battle of Bull Run. The Eighth Georgia was marching in the Shenandoah Valley with the army of Joseph E. Johnston. The Georgians were passing by a field of clover, which they somehow mistook for a field of peanuts. So they went and started pulling the clover, only to be disappointed to find that there were no peanuts. Some Virginia troops took to calling the Eighth Georgia "Goober Grabbers," and in time the name was used for all Georgia regiments in the Army of Northern Virginia.
The phrase in the song, "Mister, here's your mule" is usually treated as a joke about the fancy horses ridden by some officers, but E. Lawrence Abel, Singing the New Nation: How Music Shaped the Confederacy, 1861-1865, Stackpole, 2000, pp. 162-163, has another explanation. A sutler (called "Pies" of all things) worked near Jackson, Tennessee, and had a mule which drew his wagon. On one occasion, the soldiers hid the mule, then pretended to search for it, occasionally shouting out, "Mister, here's your mule." Supposedly they eventually returned it, and the phrase went into the soldiers' lexicon. Possible, of course, but it really sounds like an explanation after the fact. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: RJ19073

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