Saturday, October 8, 2016

Big Rock Candy Mountain Is Not the Children's Song You Remember


One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
And the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers' trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew
And of whiskey too
You can paddle all around it
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain't no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains


— Harry McClintock


Harry McClintock's original version of Big Rock Candy Mountain is not all, "peppermint trees" and "soda water fountains" that you hear in the children's version of the song that gives no credit to McClintock as the author. As adult as the song reads above, there is another verse to the song that is even more adult in tone.

The song has a final verse, one that's rarely sung, perhaps never recorded, and only shared by McClintock to prove a copyright claim. It goes:

The punk rolled up his big blue eyes and said to the jocker, "Sandy
I've hiked and hitched and wandered too, but I ain't seen any candy
I've hiked and hiked till my feet are sore, I'll be god damned if I hike any more
To be buggered sore like a hobo's whore on the Big Rock Candy Mountains."

McClintock based Big Rock Candy Mountain on his actual experiences. He said that while on the road, "There were times when I fought like a wildcat or ran like a deer to protect my independence and my virginity."

And then there is the kids version...


Big Rock Candy Mountain

On the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There's a land that's fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out ev'ry night
Where the boxcars are all empty
And the sun shines ev'ry day
Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

Oh, the buzzin' of the bees in the peppermint trees
'Round the soda water fountains
Where the lemonade springs and the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And little streams of lemonade
Come a-tricklin' down the rocks
The hobos there are friendly
And their fires all burn bright
There's a lake of stew and soda, too
You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

Oh, the buzzin' of the bees in the peppermint trees
'Round the soda water fountains
Where the lemonade springs and the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains