Big Rock Candy Mountain

From Vol. 1
Traditional Treasures


CAPO: Fret 2



SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate

A Little About This Song…

Most sources say that The Big Rock Candy Mountain was written around 1905; it was first published by Marshall Loche and Charles Tyner in 1906 but Henry “Haywire Mac” McClintock recorded his version in 1928 for Victor Records and is largely credited with writing the song. However, the melody and much of the content mirror an older song called “The Appleknocker’s Lament”. The publication Catalog of Copyright Entries lists Marshall P. W. Locke as co-author of The Big Rock Candy Mountains, and Margaret Kuhn and Myla L. Schwartz as the widow and child of the other author. (Entry #1226, Nov. 30, 1935).

Its memorable lyrics haven’t changed much over the years, but there was a popular variation directed more toward children covered by Burl Ives in the early 1950s (Ballads & Folk Songs, Vol. III, Decca DL 5093).  The song was reintroduced to contemporary movie-goers on the award-winning soundtrack of the movie O Brother Where Art Thou?


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