Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday to hear: Pete Seeger ca. 1958

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Seeger
  • Seeger

Thanks to the Ozark Echo, I've heard a song new to me but surely well known in 1958: "State of Arkansas (My Name is Terry Roberts)." Time for a new generation to hear it; I can't believe I've never heard it before today.

The song is one of many versions of the "State of Arkansas," a lament on the misery a traveler finds there, but Pete Seeger's is changed up some, making the hero not a traveler but Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine. One stanza goes:

Now his name is Orval Faubus,
The governor of the state,
He sent his army charging down,
Nine kids at the gate.
Three hundred National Guard were there
Dressed up to fight a war,
And that is why I’m late for school
In the State of Arkansas.

You can hear the song here (scroll down to Seeger's version).

The Echo makes available several other versions of "The State of Arkansas," including The Almanac Singers' recording, which includes this priceless spoken verse:

Then I got me a job on a farm. But I didn’t like the work, nor the food, nor the farmer, nor his wife, nor none of his children. So I went up to him one day and I told him, “Mister, I’m quittin’ this job, and you can just pay me off right now.”
He says to me, “OK, son, if that’s the way you feel about it.” And he handed me a mink skin. I told him, I said, “Hell, brother, I don’t want this thing, I want my money.”
He says to me, says, “Son, that’s what we use for currency down here in Arkansas.” So I took it and I headed for a saloon to see if I could get me a pint of drinkin’ whisky. Put my mink skin on the bar, and durned if the bartender didn’t throw me a pint. An’ he picked up my mink skin, and he blowed the hair back on it, and he handed me three ‘possum hides and fourteen rabbit skins for change…

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