My old music pal, the historian Bill Van Vugt, says that the lyrics to this tune are reminiscent of the sentiments expressed in letters sent by some earlier settlers to our country. In these, the writers would often expound on their new prosperity to friends and relatives left behind.
Bill Knowlton writes in the liner notes to "Go Long Mule" that Uncle Dave Macon, who is credited with this song, lived on his own prosperous farm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee from 1900 until his death in 1952.
Knowlton explains that after his weekly Saturday night performance at the Grand Ole Opry, Macon would head home to spend the rest of the weekend with his family. Huge Sunday dinners were followed by a nap in the hammock -- often with his grandchildren waving a fan over him to keep off the flies.
It isn't too hard to imagine Uncle Dave dreaming the words to this song during one of those idyllic afternoon slumbers. That actually might help to explain some of the more surreal images in this piece which my wife, Susan, believes is some sort of "old-time Haiku".
Recorded by Nick Kroes
Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm
Talk to the man who can if you will
prosper in the valley of the Tennessee hills.
Oh, the big cat spit in the little kitten's eye
Little cat, little cat don't you cry
I do love liquor and we'll all take a dram,
I'm going to tell you, pretty Polly Ann
Cattle in the pasture, hogs in the pen,
Sheep on the ranch and wheat in the bin.
Wagon in the shed, porter in the yard,
Meat in the smokehouse, big can of lard.
Fruit in the cellar, cheese on the board,
Big sack of coffee and sugar in the gourd.
Horse in the stable, money in the pocket
Baby in the cradle and a pretty girl to rock it.