Some songs make a place for themselves in your heart forever. This song - ‘Big Rock Candy Mountains’ is one of such gem of a song. I heard it first in Coen Brothers’ ‘O Brother! Where Art Thou?’.
The song instantly captivated me. First was the music. I came to know that this particular music genre is called Bluegrass Music. According to Wikipedia,
“In bluegrass, as in jazz, each instrument takes a turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others revert to backing; this is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment."
The music seems so simple to ears and is also earthly.
Second reason is its lyrics…song is about an utopian place called ‘Big Rock Candy Mountains’ – I thought earlier that this place is an utopia for a thief! Read these lines -
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
Aren’t these so funny! But as I read more, I came to know that this was actually a song which was used during Great Depression in USA to mobilise countryside folks for road-works! Many of these people were ones whose life did not follow the law always – so these lines.
Incidentally, after changing some parts of the songs, it was also made into a popular children song. E.g. ‘cigarette trees’ in original song became ‘peppermint trees’ for children.
When I read the version for children, I was shocked to see that one nursery rhyme in Marathi, written by a famous poet bears a striking resemblance with this children version of ‘Big Rock Candy Mountains’. In Marathi the song is about a ‘Chocolate Bunglow’ and every Marathi child knows this song.
Let's say that's a good inspiration to have.
Read more @ Bluegrass Music here.
Read @ ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ on Wikipedia here.
Lyrics of the song here.
Lyrics of children version here.