The Boy Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn

Album: New Favorite (2001)


  • This traditional bluegrass song was popularized by Alison Krauss & Union Station when they released it on their 2001 album New Favorite. The song is cautionary tale for those who start projects but never finish them. In this case, it's a farmer who plants his corn in June but is too lazy to harvest it. By July, it is ready, but he does nothing; in September a frost comes and ruins the crop.

    At the end of the song, he asks the neighbor girl to marry him, but she wants nothing to do with it. "A lazy man, I won't maintain," she tells him. He learns nothing from his failures, telling her she'll "rue the day" she turned him down.
  • Dan Tyminski of Union Station sings lead on this. He worked up the arrangement with the band's dobro player, Jerry Douglas, who told the story in a Songfacts interview. "For that song, we tried to create a scene," he said. "You try to set it up like you're building a room. You try to give it a shape. Dan and I, as close as I can remember right now, we started it just the two of us and didn't play it in time. We just played the whole thing free, like an old-time duet would. There was no time, there was no count, there was no BPM. It was free and we locked up and we played and sang it exactly the same together, but it was not in any particular time. I heard him sing it and I just morphed into what he was singing. It creates this scary mood and then when the band kicks in, it's very powerful, and that turned it into a real driving old-time tune.

    But we came back to that other version at the end. When the band stops and then he and I have to hit the next note together, it's not a counted note. It's not like, 1-2-3-sing. I watch him like a hawk. I think I could do it with my eyes closed but I'm not going to take the chance, so I'll go ahead and watch him and when he sings the note, I'm trying to nail the note at the same time in the same tempo. Then we play it free again all the way out to the end. We worked a long time on that but it came together pretty fast.

    So we figured out what we wanted to do and Alison really wanted to do it that way. She said, 'What do you think about this?' And we were like, 'Let's see, let's try it.' I think we nailed that one."
  • This was used in the 2012 Belgian film The Broken Circle Breakdown.


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