Realities of disability or 400 hogs

Posted May 25th, 2011 by Anthony

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Where the Hits Keep Coming

Sometimes songwriters get disability just right. It’s not often. For every non-stereotypical, realistic portrayal of disability there’s two dozen country weepers or maudlin overcoming narratives. Today, I was listening to my favorite radio station, KALX. It’s UC Berkeley’s award winning font of everything hip and groovy.

Majority Whip, all the DJs have odd nom de plumes, played a Tom T. Hall song for Hall’s 1936 birthday. I hadn’t heard the song before. It’s “Who’s Gonna Feed Them Hogs.” Tom T. Hall is known as a storyteller with a country flair. If you haven’t heard “Harper Valley PTA” it’s a wonderful snapshot of the late 1960s.

It turns out the “Who’s Gonna Feed Them Hogs” captures one of the realities of disability life. The story concerns a hospitalized hog farmer who is concerned about his livelihood with no one to feed his pigs while he’s incapacitated.

I met him in a hospital about a year ago
And why I still remember him I guess I’ll never know
He’d lie there and cry out in a medicated fog,
“Here I am in this dang bed and who’s gonna feed them hogs?”

It seems to me that this is what we worry about sometimes. How are we going to meet our responsibilities? How are we going to support ourselves? It’s the real issues of disability. As I get older, even without hospitalization, they are thoughts that I have periodically. Fortunately, I don’t have to get out of bed to sell 400 hogs so I don’t go broke.


2 Responses to: “Realities of disability or 400 hogs”

  1. Ralf Hotchkiss responds:
    Posted: May 26th, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Yes, Anthony, this is a classic, a recollection of the concerns of early disability…with with an ending that dismisses the possibility of passing on real knowledge by letting the guy walk hoe and feed his 400 hogs. Now if he had left in his new off-road wheelchair, to a homecoming of rolling with his pigs in the mud, with smiles and grunts all around…then this song should have lived on as a classic.

    Every other song in the rest of this collection – of songs for children – is nostalgically familiar. Here’s the link, for free listening: http://new.music.yahoo.com/tom-t-hall/tracks/whos-gonna-feed-them-hogs–604961. After “Who’s Gonna Feed Them Hogs” comes “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine,” and more.


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