MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Arkansas
Paddy Duggan NFLD 2 Tape 2 Track 5
Cape Broyle Audio:
Song

Duggan: Sing that over again
Leach: uh huh we’ll try it again

Duggan (sings):
My name it is Nat Burns l came from this coal town
I cruised this wide world over l searched it all around
I had many ups and downs sir ________ I saw
I never knew what busy was till l came to Arkansas

I landed in St. Louis _____________
And l read all the evening papers until my eyes were getting sore
And I read all the evening papers until at length I saw
Twelve thousand men were wanted in the state of Arkansas

I wiped my eyes all with surprise when l read this grateful news
And straightway off l started for ______ ________
He said twenty-five dollars and a ______________ I’ll draw
I’ll have you straight on the railroad for the state of Arkansas

It was in the year of eighty-two in the merry month of June
Now when l landed in Port Smith one sultry afternoon
Up came this ________ _______ man with a long and lonesome jaw
And he invited me to his hotel the best in Arkansas

I followed my conductor and straight to his dwelling place
_____________ ________________ In his melancholy face
His bread was _____________, his beef was oats and straw
That was the hash they fed me on in the state of Arkansas

Oh l got up next morning for to catch the early train
He said ___________________________________
With his _____________ O’er his long and lonesome jaw
Made the poor ________________ that live in Arkansas

Now they fed me on Cod and ________ boys as hard as any rock
Until the teeth began for to leave my head and my knees began to rock
I got so thin __________ I could hide behind one straw
For sure I am a different man when leaving Arkansas

Farewell to all ______ and to canebreaks on this hill
Farewell to Sergeant ________ and Colonel Dodger __________
But if ever I see the _________ give you my paw
For this will be a

I left on the
gale still half alive
A bottle full for whiskey my misery to thaw
For sure I am a different man when leaving Arkansas

(noise on tape)


Notes

Sources: Sources: Roud#257; SHenry H0, 53; Laws H1; Belden, 424-426; Randolph, 347; for more sources see The Traditional Ballad Index ( http://www.csufresno.edu/search ).

History: Found in the United States, Canada, and Ireland.

Text: Nat Burns travels the world looking for employment.   He reads in the newspaper in St. Louis that 12,000 men are needed in the state of Arkansas.   He heads there in June of 1882 feeling excited and hopeful about the possibility of making money and living a prosperous life.   Upon arrival he is disappointed with the lodgings, food, and general poor state of affairs of people living in Arkansas.   After some time, he leaves Arkansas a thin, toothless man with a bottle of whiskey to "thaw" his misery.

Tune: The song form is ABAB. The tonality is major and the meter is 4/4 common time (with some flexibility).

All material on this webpage is copyright © 2004, Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. No unauthorized copying or use is permitted. For more information, follow this link.