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(learned from Tom Juster in about 1963)

(music to go here)

My name it is Tom Juster, I come from Berkeley town.
I've travelled this wide world over, I've travelled this wide world round.
I've seen some ups and downs in life, some turrible things I've saw,
But I never knew what misery was 'til I come to Arkansas (ar-kan-saw).

I was loafing in St. Louie with five dollars and no more,
I read the morning papers until my eyes was sore,
I read the evening papers, until at last I saw
That a hundred men was wanted for work in Arkansas.

Well, I landed in the depot, I inhaled a bottle of gin,
Along come a walkin' skeleton by the name of Thomas Flynn,
His ears was big, his nose was large, his hair hung down his jaw,
He was a perfect photograph of the folks in Arkansas.

He fed me on corn dodger, his meat I couldn't chaw,
His bread it was so mealy stale it nearly broke my jaw,
I got so thin on sassafrass tea I could hide behind a straw,
And that's what they call vittles down there in Arkansas.

He set me out a mattress as hard as any rock,
My teeth began to loosen, my knees began to knock.
I said, I've finished working, my salary I asked to draw.
He handed me a coonskin, says, That's currency in Arkansas.

His wife she was a boxcar, her teeth they was a hoe,
She wept a bucketful of tears the day I said I'd go,
She threw her arms 'round me, she bit me on the jaw,
Sayin', Don't forget your dear old friends out here in Arkansas.

I walked into a saloon, I inhaled a bottle of rye,
I put my coonskin on the counter, the bartender drew nigh,
He picked it up, he smoothed it down, he rubbed it with his paw.
He handed me a rattlesnake skin, says, That's change in Arkansas.

I'm goin' to Indian territory, gonna marry me a squaw,
I won't go back to the canebrake and corn dodger no more.
If you ever see me back again, I'll extend to you my paw,
But it'll have to be through a telescope from Hell to Arkansas.

(from miriam berg's folksong collection)