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Hey, let’s hop that train and head for that mountain over there…

Come with me. Let’s hop aboard the Wabash Cannonball and pay a little visit to the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Here’s Yodeling Slim Clark…

It was first recorded by Harry McClintock in 1928. If you were part of the traveling nation, the mountain was paradise. The hens lay soft-boiled eggs, man.

Here’s Harry McClintock now…

I first heard this song as a small boy. My dad had bought me a record player, one of those units where you had to balance a penny on the needle. I know some of you are thinking, penny, needle, what the hell is this guy talking about? Anyway the first record he bought me was Walkin’ the Floor over You, on 78, by Ernest Tubb. For those of you who are not dinosaurs, 78 refers to the number of times the record revolves in a minute. The second record he bought me was on a 33 rpm record. It was by Burl Ives. Man I loved his voice. Anyway, that’s where I first heard Big Rock Candy Mountain. I thought it was a kid’s song (never mind the line about the buzzin of the bees and the cigarette trees, references to burly bums, and cops with wooden legs). I didn’t get the hobo paradise bit. I don’t think, growing up in Etobicoke, I even knew what a hobo was.

Pour me a little cup from the lemonade springs over there, will you? The mountain would be a perfect place on a day like today. You know, sometimes when I listen to those old Utah Phillips stories about the traveling nation, I kind of admire those guys out trampin around. Talk about hunter-gatherers. It must have been a tough life, but each day was an adventure.

Before we go back to the real world, let’s visit with Lew Dite and his ukulele…

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