I Once Was a Carman in the Big Mountain Con
(Sung by Guthrie Meade)
'Twas once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
'Twas once as a cowboy I used to be brave;
But ain't it a pity, I came to Butte City
To work for Jim Brennan and now to my grave.
Oh, beat your drum loudly and sound your fife merrily,
Play the bagpipe as ye carry me on,
Place a square pointed fan on the lid of my coffin,
So I'll be known as I go along.
Go get six jolly ladies to come and dance o'er me;
Get six husky carmen to carry me on;
Take me to The Flat*, boys, and lay the sod o'er me,
For I once was a carman on the Big Mountain Con.
*The Flat - according to Wayland Hand, The Flat is a reference to the
cemeteries of Butte which are located on a flat plains area south of the
This hard-rock miner's song from Montana is an obvious parody of The
Cowboy's Lament, though the singer from whom it was collected, himself a
ranchowner, emphatically denied ever having heard a cowhand sing the
latter song. Kyle Pugh, formerly a miner, reported having heard the song
in the mines of Butte around 1905. The dating of this song seems
reasonable enough in light of the fact that Jim Brennan (mentioned In the
opening stanza) worked as foreman of the Mountain Con mine from 1904 to