Jimmy Dean: Big Bad John (1961)

June 20, 2008

Big John
Big John
Every morning at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six-foot-six and weighed two-forty-five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
Everybody knew you didn’t give no lip to Big John
Big John
Big John
Big Bad John
Big John
Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn’t say much, kinda quiet and shy
If ya spoke at all, ya just said hi to Big John
Somebody said he came from New Orleans
Where he got in a fight o’er a cajun queen
And a crashin’ blow from a huge right hand
Sent a Lousianna fella to the promised land, Big John
Big John
Big John
Big Bad John
Big John
Then came the day at the bottom of the mine
When a timber cracked and men started cryin’
Miners were prayin’ and hearts beat fast
And everybody thought they’d breathed their last, ‘cept John
Through the dust and the smoke of this man-made hell
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well
Grabbed the saggin’ timber and gave out with a groan
And like a giant oak tree, just stood there alone, Big John
Big John
Big John
Big Bad John
Big John
And with all of his strength he gave a mighty shove
Then a miner yelled out, there’s a light up above
And twenty men scrambled from a would-be grave
now there’s only one left down there to save, Big John
With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
As smoke and gas belched outta the mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for Big John
Big John
Big John
Big Bad John
Big John
Now, they never re-opened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand,
At the bottom of this mine lies one Hell of a man, Big John
Big John
Big John
Big Bad John
Big John
Big John
Big Bad John
Big John

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lizaonavon June 23, 2008 at 8:35 am

Roger, your funny presentation of songs from my childhood (and yours I presume) makes me wonder if you know the answer to a question I’ve chewed for years:
When did lazy use of ½ step up in pitch to convey a song’s increase in emotion as it hits a stanza about two-thirds through the piece (I bet German has one word for that concept) become legitimate? Long before 1961. Schubert uses a jump of a fifth in key to increase emotion in some lieder, but that’s not lazy.
Maybe you remember me—Liza, a flute student at NEC, I played one of your pieces for solo flute, I always loved your lyricism.

Roger Bourland June 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Nee Korn? yes? You played Soliloquy III: Ocean for solo flute. You married Jeremy and you wrote a book (at least one..) and moved south of LAX. Yes?

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