> Folk Music > Songs > Big Rock Candy Mountain

Big Rock Candy Mountain

[ Roud 6696 ; Ballad Index LxU079 ; Mudcat 4571 ; Harry McClintock]

According to Wikipedia,

Big Rock Candy Mountain, first recorded by Harry McClintock in 1928, is a song about a hobo’s idea of paradise, a modern version of the medieval concept of Cockaigne. It is a place where “hens lay soft boiled eggs” and there are “cigarette trees.” McClintock claims to have written the song in 1895 based on tales from his misspent youth hoboing through the United States, but some believe the song, or at least aspects of it, have existed for far longer. (…)

The song wasn’t popularized until 1939, when it peaked at #1 on Billboard Magazine’s country music charts. But it achieved more widespread popularity in 1949 when a sanitized version intended for children was re-recorded by Burl Ives. It has been recorded by many artists throughout the world, but a version recorded in 1960 by Dorsey Burnette to date was the biggest success for the song in the post-1954 “rock era”, having reached #102 on Billboard’s charts.

Jon Boden sang Big Rock Candy Mountain as the 20 May 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.


Jon Boden sings Big Rock Candy Mountain

On a summer’s day in the month of May
A burly bum came hiking.
Down a shady lane with a sugar cane
He was lookin’ for his liking
As he strolled along he sang a song
Of a land of milk and honey
Where a bum can stay for many a day
And he don’t need any money.

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh, the buzzing of the bees in the cigarette trees,
The soda water fountains
Where the lemonade springs and the bluebird sings.
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
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,
The barns are full of hay.
Oj, I want 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.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never wash your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks.
There’s a lake of stew and whiskey too
And you paddle around in a big canoe,
Where they hung the turk who invented work,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.