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1108 PD: On the Edge of Common Sense: Flapjacks at play

Baxter Black Published on 24 July 2008

A big part of the cowboy culture is the music that celebrates the West; the trail drives, the danger and the romance of the life.

“… all day I face the barren waste without the taste of water …”



“… tryin’ to catch the devil’s herd, but they ain’t caught ’em yet …”

“… for hours he would ride on the range far and wide …”

“… where seldom is heard a discouraging word …”

“… we’re up in the morning at breaking of day, the chuck wagon’s ready, the flapjacks at play …”

What? Flapjacks at play? Are there signs posted on the perimeter of the chuck wagon warning: “CAUTION … FLAPJACKS AT PLAY!”


I have been known to write some goofy lines, but that one stops me in my tracks. Did the songwriter run out of time? Did nothing else wonderfully Western come to mind? Like … “We’re all on our way …” “I’m ridin’ ol’ bay…” “’bout time, hip hooray!”

Or if the writer insisted on sticking to the chuck wagon/breakfast/dining theme; “… we’re up in the morning at breaking of day, the chuckwagon’s ready, the cook’s a gourmet …”

“… French toast’s the entrée …”

“… The wine’s Bourdelais …”

“… there’s no sommelier …”

“… just ask for José …”


Maybe the songwriter was masking an underlying story, a subliminal message revealing a conflict between the foods. Suggesting perhaps, that the flapjacks were leaving all the hard work to the bacon and eggs. Why not say, “…the oatmeal’s at play?” the grits, the orange juice? It just doesn’t sound right. And gravy. The gravy’s at play? Of course not! The gravy’s at sea. It has its own boat!

Although cornflakes does have a nice ring. You can almost see them lining up along the rim tossing a raisin back and forth. But not flapjacks. It’s hard to imagine them doing anything fun. Flapjacks are couch potatoes. They lie flat as a hound dog’s ear on a wood floor.

Flapjacks are not into sports. You’ll never hear a broadcaster say, “The croissants have taken the field, and the flapjacks are at play.”

I must conclude that the songwriter deliberately wrote the nonsensical line to confuse folklorists and musicologists … and the occasional cowboy poet and former large animal veterinarian.

“… the poet’s gone crazy and sure lost his way, he should stick to vet work, my dog needs a spay …” PD