In an interview with Discaholic, R. Crumb identifies “Beans” by Beans Hambone as one of a series of vintage 78s that he has coveted over the years:
There is no ultimate record. When I was younger, I remember thinking, if I can just get my hands on a copy of “In Harlem’s Araby” by the Dixie Devils on Van Dyke or Radiex, then my collection will be complete and i can cease with this madness. Well, I got that one, so then it was, if I could just get hold of a copy of “Black Snake Moan” by E.E. Hack’s String Band on Champion, then I’ll be satisfied. Well, I traded a pile of artwork for that one, was thrilled to get it. The guy later sold the artwork for $18,000, but, oh well. Then it was “Beans” by Beans Hambone on Victor, the ultimate record, the Holy Grail. That one took a long time to find — DECADES! But I finally got it, just a couple of years ago, and filed it into the collection, right between Vera Hall and Otis Harris, but guess what? Not even “Beans” could cure this craving for records! But I will say, my desire to possess yet more records is definitely not as strong as it once was. It has waned, just as my sexual drive has waned. I have so many good records, an embarrassment of musical riches! More that I can possibly listen to in the years I have left to live!
Times have changed, of course, and what took Crumb decades to obtain, I found and downloaded from YouTube in a few minutes:
I also converted the YouTube video to an MP3 so I could burn it to a mix CD and listen to it in the car; you can download the file here if you’re interested:
Here are the lyrics, as deciphered and transcribed by the fellows on the WeenieCampbell.com message board (though I’ve made a few “corrections” based on what I think I hear myself):
This is “Beans,” now, I’m fixin’ to play you a beautiful little number entitled “Beans.” We’s playin’ this from General reckon to the Revolution. Now the last time, y’all, when you all hear this piece of music, now ladies and gentlemen, I mean it’s all right.
Now way down south you had to say good morning,
Hey, good mornin’ Church!
There’s some good people when you tell the Church good morning,
That ain’t no way to do.
Judge, you come to my house, you won’t find no stewed beef,
No pork ‘n’ pie.
You won’t find no stewed beef, no ham, no egg,
No stewed beef, no pork and pie.
They give you beans for your breakfast, give you beans for your dinner,
Beans for suppertime.
They give you fried beans, boil beans, stew beans, baked beans.
Beans brown’d, an’ ya I got sick from eatin’ beans.
Oh, the doctor brought beans.
Had pills look like beans.
Wrote outta ‘scription for beans, beans, beans.
And they taste like beans.
Then they act-a like beans, beans, beans.
They will work you like beans, too.
Some are lima beans, beans, beans.
But never pork and beans.
Spoon stickin’ in your beans.
David had a mess of beans, beans, beans.
Old Katie had beans, beans.
Some are lima beans.
You seen the pinto bean.
Adam had a mess a beans.
Swear Eve had beans.
She had a garden full of beans.
Ol’ Noah had beans, beans, beans.
He had a ark full of beans.
‘postle Paul had beans, beans, beans.
Some are lima beans.
I died from eatin’ beans, beans, beans.
Undertaker brought beans.
Had a coffin full of beans.
His hearse is fulla beans, beans.
To the graveyard eatin’ beans.
Dug my grave with beans, beans, beans.
Let me down with bean strings.
Covered me up with bean hull.
Preached my funeral with beans, beans, beans.
Preacher took his text with beans.
Sister read the hymn with beans.
Believe me they sung beans.
I’ll swear they shouted beans.
Goliath had beans, beans, beans.
St. Peter had beans, beans, beans.
Then I got a reply from Heaven to hell,
There was beans, beans, beans.