Saturday, August 27, 2005

Nothing from Nothing's the Greer County Fair

When I was casting about for something to call this weblog, this song came to mind. It's a nineteenth century traditional ditty about homesteading. I like the phrase, "Nothing from nothing's the Greer County fare," because I've never seen it written out, and I don't know if it's "fare" or "fair." (The Lomax versions of this song don't include that couplet.) I have fewer complaints about the Pocahontas County fare than this singer has about Greer County, but the fare is sometimes only fair....well, never mind. It's a dandy song, and Greer County is an interesting place, because it has been part of Texas and is now part of Oklahoma.

Starving to Death on a Government Claim

My name is Bill Parsons, a bachelor I am;
You'll find me out West on an elegant plan.
You'll find me out West in a county of fame,
Starving to death on a government claim.

Hurrah for Greer County, the land of the free,
The home of the grasshopper, bedbug and flea.
I'll sing of its praises, I'll tell of its fame
While starving to death on a government claim.

My house it is built of the natural sod;
My walls are erected according to God;
My roof has no pitch but is level and plain;
You'll always get wet if it happens to rain.


My clothes they are ragged, my language is rough.
My bread is corn dodger, my goodness how tough!
Nothing to eat, and nothing to wear:
Nothing from nothing's the Greer County fare.


How happy am I when I go to my bed;
A rattlesnake hisses a tune at my head.
A gay little centipede, free from all care,
Creeps out of my pillow and into my hair.


Come all you homesteaders, take warning by me:
Don't live with the grasshopper, bedbug and flea.
I'm going back East, to find me a wife,
And quit this corn dodger the rest of my life.


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