Nov 14

The Beat Farmers: “Big Rock Candy Mountain”

The Beat Farmers -- Glad 'n' Greasy

Nothing a little 409 can’t get off the bass…

So tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and if I had to choose two words that best describe the piles of food on the dinner table that day, as well as the resulting feeling most of us have about all that food, I just might settle on “glad” (the feeling) and “greasy” (the food). And as it just so happens, that is also the name of the EP released by the sometimes-funny-and-always-awesome roots-rock group The Beat Farmers in 1985: Glad ‘n’ Greasy. And somehow, today’s song, their version of “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” seems like it fits right in with that eating theme. As it was originally written by Harry McClintock in the early 20th century, and as recorded by the Beat Farmers, it bears little resemblance to the well-known cleaned-up children’s version. It’s an ode to a dreamland of food, drink, and relaxation — themes that Thanksgiving lends itself to quite well. In its full version, there are “cigarette trees,” “streams of alcohol,” and “lakes of stew and whiskey too.” (In the original — but not this version — it’s also a land where “they hung the jerk who invented work.”) To top it all off, like whipped cream on a pumpkin pie, the Beat Farmers’ version has not one, but two kazoo breaks. It doesn’t get much better than this, with the late Country Dick Montana’s fabulous baritone vocals. May this song run through your head all day on Thanksgiving, lending a little levity to even the most egregious family arguments and most disappointing football losses of the day.

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