I Was Born Ten Thousand Years Ago

Lyrics: Harry C. Clyde
Music: H. C. Verner

In the documentary "Long Strange Trip" Barbara Meier plays a cassette tape of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter recorded in the early 1960s. It's the song called variously "I Was Born Ten Thousand Years Ago", "The Bragging Song", "The Great Historical Bum", "The Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done", "I'm A Highly Educated Man", "I'm The Man That Rode The Mule Around The World" etc. See below for more background.

It has now been released on the box set Before The Dead.

I was born about ten thousand years ago
There ain't nothing in this world that I don't know
I saw Peter, Paul and Moses playin' ring-around-the-roses
And I'll whup the guy what says it isn't so
[spoken] Tain't so mister, now you listen to this

Well, I'm just a lonesome traveler, and a great historical bum
Highly educated from history I did come
I built the Rock of Ages, it was in the year oh one
And that's about the niftiest thing that Man has ever done
[spoken] Ah yeah, buck 'em, yeah. `you're a wise young whipper-snapper, feller

I saw Satan when he looked the garden o'er
I saw Adam and Eve driven from the door
And behind the bushes peeping, saw the apple they was eating
I'll swear that I'm the one what ate the core
[spoken] Talk about the Garden of Eden, son.

Well I built the garden of Eden, it was in the year oh two
Joined the apple-pickers union and I always paid my dues
I'm the man who signed the contract for the risin' of the sun
And that's about the sweetest thing that Man has ever done
[spoken] Bold faced liar, I calls it. Well I like a wry gag buddy

Now Queen Elizabeth she fell in love with me
We were married in Milwaukee secretly
But I got tired and shook her and ran off with General Hooker
And I fight mosquitoes down in Tennessee

I was in the revolution when we set this country free
It was me and a couple of Indians that dumped the Boston tea
I won our independence [by] with George Washington
And that's about the biggest thing that Man has ever done
[spoken] Top that

[then Jerry Garcia sings the first verse while Robert Hunter simultaneously sings the second verse]
Jerry Garcia Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     26 May 1961 Before The Dead Bob and Jerry

Origins

This song began its life in 1894 as "I'm a Highly Educated Man" written by H.C. Verner and Harry C. Clyde
I was born about four thousand years ago
And there's nothing ever happened I don't know
I saw old King Pharaoh's daughterà Finding Moses in the water
And I'll whip the man that says it isn't so

I saw Noah when he built the famous ark
I sneaked into it one night when it was dark
I saw Jonah eat the whale
And I pulled the lion's tail
And I crossed the land of Canaan on a lark

Chorus
I am a highly educated man
To keep my brains within my hat I plan
I have been on earth so long
That I used to sing this song
While Abraham and Isaac rushed the can

I saw Satan when he searched the garden o'er
I saw Eve and Adam driven from the door
While the apple they were eating
'Round the bushes I was beating
I can prove that I'm the man that ate the core

I was there when Cain slew Abel in the glade
And I know the game was poker that they played
So right there is the rub
Did he kill him with a club
I am sure it was a diamond or a spade

[chorus

Queen Elizabeth was dead in love with me
We were married in Milwaukee secretly
But I schemed around and shook her
And I went with General Hooker
To fight mosquitoes down in Tennessee

I've sat with kings and queens on either hand
And jacks and aces too, you understand
I've seen an auction sale
On the water in the gale
And I've seen a schooner drunk upon dry land

[chorus

I remember when this country had a king
I've seen Cleopatra pawn her wedding ring
I saw Ireland's colors flying
When George Washington stopped lying
On the day when Putti first began to sing

I taught Solomon his little A, B, C's
I helped Brigham Young invent Limburger cheese
I was sailing on the bay
With Methuselah one day
And I saved his flowing whiskers from the breeze

[chorus
It was first recorded with the title "When Abraham and Isaac Rushed the Can" in 1924 by Fiddlin' John Carson
I was born about four thousand years ago
There's nothing in this world that John don't know
I was [?] when they built that famous [?]
While Abraham and Isaac rushed that can

I saw Davy Crockett over there
I've seen Daniel in that lion's den
I was with old Pharoah's daughter
When she pulled Moses out that water
While Abraham and Isaac rushed that can

I was with old Brigham Young
When ten thousand crimes [were] done
[?] all you [?] no plan
Well I've been around so long
That I thought I'd sing my song
While Abraham and Isaac rushed that can

I saw Washington crossing Delaware
I seen Davy Crockett over there
I was with old Pharoah's daughter
When she jerked Moses out that water
While Abraham and Isaac rushed that can

Well I've been on earth so long
That I thought I'd sing my song
While [?] all you [?] not planned
I saw old Pharoah's daughter
Pull Moses out that water
While Abraham and Isaac rushed that can

Well I was born about four thousand years ago
There's nothing in this world that Fiddlin' John don't know
I've been around so long
That I thought I'd sing my song
While Abraham and Isaac rushed that can
It was then recorded as "I'm The Man That Rode The Mule 'Round The World" by Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers in 1925
She promised to meet me when the clock struck twenty-three
Down at the stockyards about a mile and a half away
Where pickled feets and hog heads go nineteen cents a pound
She's my freckle-faced consumptive Sara Jane

Oh she's my daisy, she's black-eyed and crazy
The sweetest girl I thought I ever saw
Now her breath smells sweet, but I'd rather smell her feet
For she's my freckle-faced consumptive Sara Jane

Chorus
I'm the man who rode the mule around the world
I'm the man who rode the mule around the world
I rode in Noah's ark, I'm as happy as a lark
I'm the man who rode the mule around the world

I was born four thousand years ago
And there's nothing on this earth I do not know
I saw Moses on the water, fighting Pharaoh and his armies
And I can whip the man that says it isn't so

[chorus]

I saw Satan when he searched the garden oe'r
I saw Satan when he searched the garden oe'r
The apple they were eating, through the bushes I was peeping
I can prove that I'm the man that ate the core

[chorus]

I'm a highly educated man
And there are things in my brains that I have planned
Now I've been on earth too long, till I've learned to sing a song
That old Abraham and Jacob used to sing

[chorus]

[chorus]
Woody Guthrie recorded a version with additional lyrics in the early 1940s under the title "The Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done" or sometimes "The Great Historical Bum" (his recordings don't always include all the verses)
I'm just a lonesome traveler, the great historical bum
Highly educated from history I have come
I built the Rock of Ages, t'was in the year of one
And that was about the biggest thing that Man had ever done

I worked in the garden of Eden, it was in the year of two
Joined the apple-pickers union and I always paid my dues
I'm the man that signed the contract to raise the risin' sun
And that was about the biggest thing that Man had ever done

I was straw-boss on the pyramids and the tower of Babel too
I opened up the ocean, let the migrant children through
I fought a million battles and I never lost a one
And that was about the biggest thing that Man had ever done

I beat the daring Roman, I beat the daring Turk
Defeated Nero's army with thirty minutes work
I fought the greatest leaders, and licked them every one
And that was about the biggest thing that Man had ever done

I was in the revolution when we set this country free
It was me and a couple of Indians that dumped the Boston tea
I won the battle of Valley Forge and the battle of Bully Run
And that was about the biggest thing that Man had ever done

Next, we won the slavery war, some other folks and me
And every slave from sea to sea was all turned loose by me
I divorced old Madam slavery, and I wed this freedom dame
And that's about the biggest thing that man has ever done

And then I took to farming on the great midwestern plain
The dust it blowed a hundred years, but never come a rain
Well, me and a million other fellas left there on the run
And that was about the biggest thing that man has ever done

I climbed the rocky canyon where the Columbia River rolls
Seen the salmon leaping the rapids and the falls
The big Grand Coulee Dam in the state of Washington
Is just about the biggest thing that man has ever done

There's a building in New York that you call the Empire State
I rode the rods to 'Frisco to walk the Golden Gate
I've seen every foot of film that Hollywood has run
But Coulee is the biggest thing that man has ever done

Three times the size of Boulder or the highest pyramid
Makes the Tower of Babel a plaything for a kid
From the rising of the river to the setting of the sun
The Coulee is the biggest thing that man has ever done

There's a man across the ocean, and I guess you know him well
His name is Adolph Hitler, and damn his soul to hell
We'll kick him in the Panzers and put him on the run
That'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done

I'm living with my freedom wife in this big land we built
It takes all forty eight States for me to spread my quilt
Our kids are several millions now; they run from sun to sun
And that's about the biggest thing that man has ever done

I built mines and mills and factories that run for Uncle Sam
Producing for the soldier boys that fight for this great land
Our job it is a tough one, it'll take us every one
But this'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done

There's warehouse guys and teamsters and guys that skin the cats
Guys that run the steel mills, the furnace and the blast
We'll stop the Axis rattlesnakes and thieves of old Nippon
That'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done

Well I'd better quit my talking, 'cause I've told you all I know
Please remember partner, wherever you may go
The world is digging Hitler's grave, and when the job is done
That'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done
That'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done
or this alternative ending
I'd better quit my talking, 'cause I told you all I know
But please remember, pardner, wherever you may go
The people are building a peaceful world, and when the job is done
That'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done

I better quit my talking now; I told you all I know
But please remember, pardner, wherever you may go
I'm older than your old folks, and I'm younger than the young
And I'm about the biggest thing that man has ever done
Other artists sang numerous different verses/variations, including:
I taught Samson how to use his mighty hand
I showed Columbus to this happy land
And for Pharaoh's little kids I built all the pyramids
And to the Sahara carried all the sand

I was born a hundred thousand years ago
And there's nothin' in this world I do not know
Why the flag started flying
When George Washington stopped lying
I can lick the man who says that isn't so

I am an educated man
To get more sense within my head I plan
I have been on earth so long
That I used to sing this little song
While all of them old-timers took their stand


 


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