Mudcat Café message #161450 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16834   Message #161450
Posted By: Sandy Paton
11-Jan-00 - 10:22 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Anti-smoking songs
Subject: Lyr Add: TOBACCO UNION^^
Hattie Presnell sings a song titled "Tobacco Union" on my Traditional Music of Beech Mountain, NC., Volume II. It's clearly "anti." Me? I'm neutral. I happily smoked a pack a day for fifty-three years. When I had my coronary by-pass in 1995, I decided maybe I ought to take advantage of sixteen days in a non-smoking environment (the hospital) and use that as a head start on quitting, since I figured I ought to do that before I became addicted. I miss it. I stand next to smokers in the alley snowdrifts, blissfully inhaling their exhalations. Best use of "second-hand smoke" I can think of. Anyway, here's the song Hattie gave me. She learned it from an old reprobate named "Lie-hue" who would wander into the Beech Mountain area every seven years, they told me. SING OUT! (Volume 14, No. 2) published another version of the song as it was sung by Emma Dusenberry of Mena, Arkansas (my father's home town). Randolph (Ozark Folksongs, Vol. III, p. 274)) printed a version from Mrs. Maggie Morgan of Springfield, Arkansas, observing that she had learned it in the late 1880s. Jere's Hattie's text:

Come young and old and hear me tell
How strong tobacco smokers smell,
Who loves to smoke the pipe so well,
For tobacco they will sell,
To burn and smoke in union.

They'll take the money from the poor
And carry it to their neighbor's door
And hasten it away to some man's store
To sell and buy tobacco more
To burn and smoke in union.

And then, sometimes, some church you'll view,
And there the men will sit and chew.
They will spit on the carpet floor
And it will spread a foot or more,
A-talking of the social union.

The twist so large within their mouth,
The juice runs down and stains their chin.
At this I always have to grin
And think there is but little sin
In this tobacco union.

Then there's the verse I learned from Joe Camp, a farmer I harvested for in the wheat fields near Larned, Kansas, in 1944, sung as part of "The Taters They Grow Small in Kansas:"

Oh, they chew tobacco thin in Kansas.
They chew tobacco thin in Kansas.
Oh, they chew tobacco thin
And it dribbles down their chin.
Then they lick it up agin
In Kansas.

I reckon that's "anti-poverty," too.