by rupe

What are the real lyrics for the poem "Big Rock Candy Mountains"?

I had this poem read to me as a kid, and it was one of my favourites. In trying to find the words I remembered hearing, I encountered some really bad manglings of the work (author unknown), mostly removing the anti-work sentiments and alcoholic references which I consider to be the heart of the work, in adapting the work for kids... the original (as I heard it) is a lot more fun.

The author of this work really is unknown. There have been two song arrangements made from the poem, by Haywire Mac McClintock, and later by Burl Ives, but both are adaptions of earlier folk lyrics, and neither actually authored it. Interesting to note that the Harry McClintock version is the second song heard in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Here are the lyrics as I best remember them:

Big Rock Candy Mountain

One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fire was 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, beside 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 hand-outs grow on bushes and you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars all are empty and the sun shines every day
On 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 farmer's 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 wind 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 a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey, too
You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoo
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 or picks
I'm a-goin' 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 comin' fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains


Annotation by jesse :
there was also a really good version done by the beat farmers


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