At the outset, Big Rock Candy Mountain seems like a child’s dreamland. So…why all the cigarette trees?
While modern, kid-friendly, lyrical changes have made the Mountain safe for younger listeners, Harry McClintock wrote and recorded this version in 1929. It depicts a hobo’s paradise, hence all the handout-bushes and, of course, the cigarette trees.
So, what exactly is a hobo? Travelers of the open roads and rails, they’re akin to itinerant workers…and true hoboes follow The Code. It stresses chivalry, looking out for fellow travelers, and above all, rule number one… “Decide your own life. ” And where’d these rules come from? Why, the National Hobo Convention of course, held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1889.
But see for yourself…we’ve got the Code right here: