“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 claimed to have written the song in 1895, based on tales from his youth hoboing through the United States, but some believe that at least aspects of the song have existed for far longer. (source)
(American folk song)
1. On a summer day in the month of May a burly bum came hiking.
Down a shady lane through the sugar cane, he was looking for his liking.
As he roamed along he sang a song of the land of milk and honey
where a bum can stay for many a day and he won’t need any money.
Oh, the buzzin’ of the bees in the ci-ga-ratte* trees
near the soda water fountain
at the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings
on the big rock candy mountain.
2. There’s a lake of gin** we can both jump in
And the handouts grow on bushes
In the new-mown hay we can sleep all day
And the bars all have free lunches
Where the mail train stops and there ain’t no cops
And the folks are tender-hearted
Where you never change your socks and you never throw rocks
And your hair is never parted.
3. Oh, a farmer and his son, they were on the run
To the hay field they were bounding
Said the bum to the son, “Why don’t you come
To that big rock candy mountain?”
So the very next day they hiked away,
The mileposts they were counting
But they never arrived at the lemonade tide
On the big rock candy mountain.
*(Idea: substitute “licorice”)
**(Idea: substitute “chocolate bin”)
Extras for Plus Members
- Printable Rhythm Visuals
- Song with chords, Lesson ideas for Rhythm (PDF)
- MIDI file
- Listen to the song