Seven Cent Cotton Forty Cent Meat

A song about inflation and price of cotton during the Great Depression. written by Bob Miller and Emma Dermer in 1929 (published in 1930)

My rendition is a mixture of the cover by “Porter Wagner” and (my personal favorite) “David( Stringbean) Akeman“. Below is a chart of the price of cotton.

September 11th 1972 price being $0.27. With the current price as of February 7th 2023, the price being at $0.83. With the high spike in the chart being $2.13 in March 14th 2011. The original lyrics mention the price of a horse being at $2. The price in my rendition is from the 1950s at $50. And a cheap horse today (2023) will cost you $500-$1,000 untrained/hard to handle. The original lyrics also includes $8 pants. A quick look at any store, you can see a pair of jeans easily running $20. Lastly the original lyrics keep “forty cent meat” throughout the song, with the last verse talking about hogs, the average price for a pound of pork meat is $5.

Seven cent cotton and forty cent meat. How in the world can a poor man eat.
Flour up high and cotton down low. How in the world can we raise any dough.
Clothes worn out, shoes urn down. Old slouch hat with a hole in the crown.
Back nearly broken and fingers all sore. Cotton gone down to rise no more

Twenty cent cotton and ninety cent meat. How in the world can a poor man eat.
Mules in the barn, no crops laid by. Corn crib empty and the cow’s gone dry
Well water low, nearly out of sight. Can’t take a bath on Saturday night.
No use talking, any man is beat. With twenty cent cotton and ninety cent meat.

Forty cent cotton and twenty-dollar pants. Who in the world has got a chance.
We can’t buy clothes and we can’t buy meat. Too much cotton and not enough to eat.
Sixty cent cotton and dollar-twenty meat. How in the world can a poor man eat.
Poor getting poorer all around here. Kids coming regular every year.
Fatter our hogs, take ’em to town. All we get is forty cents a pound.
Very next day we have to buy it back. Dollar twenty pound in a paper sack.

Sixty cent cotton and a quarter on the tax. Uncle Sam’s got my money, and he won’t give it back.
Debt’s got the farmer, we all know well. Theres something wrong as sure as well, well.

Ninety cent cotton and fifty-dollar horse. Guess we’ll have to do without any clothes.

No fish in the pond, no worms in the ground. Mockin’ bird’s singin’ and he ain’t made a sound.

Dollar thirty cotton and a five-dollar meat. How in the world can a poor man eat. Shoes up high, cotton down low. How in the world we gonna raise the dough?