My Thoughts on “Cotton Fields” Back Home

There are so many songs that talk about cotton… many I sing routinely and don’t think twice about. The blues is probably what comes to mind most. Some songs, I just can’t shake, even if I try and try. The one that I’ve heard over and over since childhood is called “Cotton Fields.”

They say it was by Lead Belly and it has been recorded by several people… and I can’t imagine how many times it’s been performed. According to Wikipedia, “The song mentions that the fields are “‘down in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texarkana‘. This is geographically impossible, as Texarkana is about 30 miles north of the Louisiana border.

The song may give people romantic thoughts of a simpler time and the beat is pretty fun. And who doesn’t like the words “itty, bitty baby?” But it also reminds me of how hard it was to do all the field work needed to grow cotton. It took full families, nobody stayed at the house to babysit. Having worked in cotton fields on a limited basis making crosses or hand picking, I have to say the heat and the humidity make me wonder how that can possibly romanticized… but add in the mosquitoes we have in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and East Texas… well no way I’d want my baby nieces or nephews out there!

For insight on why when it’s rotten you can’t pick very much cotton, check this out.

Cotton Fields

When I was a little bitty baby
My mama would rock me in the cradle
In them old cotton fields back home
It was down in Louisiana
Just a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields back home

It may sound a little funny
But you didn’t make very much money
In them old cotton fields back home
It may sound a little funny
But you didn’t make very much money
In them old cotton fields back home

Oh when those cotton balls get rotten
You can’t pick you very much cotton
In them old cotton fields back home

It was down in Louisiana
Just a mile from Texarkana
In them old cotton fields back home

I was over in Arkansas
People ask me what you come here for
In them old cotton fields back home
I was over in Arkansas
People ask me what you come here for
In them old cotton fields back home

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/l/leadbelly/#share

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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5 Responses to My Thoughts on “Cotton Fields” Back Home

  1. Lana Wallpe July 20, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    Thanks for the lesson on cotton! We don’t know too much about that up here in northwest Indiana, but we sure do use the stuff in all its many forms! BTW Love that song and used to sing it all the time. I have a female country singer’s voice in my head, but I can’t name her… yet…

    • Janice July 21, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

      I kind of thought you may have already come back with the singer’s name! Cotton seed is probably fairly common in your area as a feed for cattle. Works wonders to provide nutritional value. And of course we appreciate your patronage on that and all the great clothing, household textiles and US paper money is a big cotton user too!

  2. Mary Fleming July 20, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    ight it be refering to the time when the Louisana purchase was made rather than the state of Louisana?

    • Janice July 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

      Hadn’t thought about that. I just sort of think it’s near enough by & rhymes and “a mile” is simpler than the real numbers. Keep it easy & sounding good. Sticks in my head that way. 🙂

  3. John Bonaccorsi, Phila June 20, 2016 at 1:41 am #

    Just want to let you know how much I enjoyed this entry of yours. Until I read it, I’d not realized how much the song communicated of a way of life that’s in the past now, I guess. Good photograph, too. Salute from Philadelphia, PA.

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