Art Imitates Farming Life

Carroll Smith
Carroll Smith

Driving down the road at sunrise enjoying the taste and aroma of a hot cup of coffee is just the beginning of the sensory experience of farming that lasts throughout the day. A comfortable familiarity with the tasks at hand is heightened by sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Early morning dew on the leaves of the cotton plant. The taste and smell of dust kicked up behind a tractor rolling down the turnrow. The sight and sound of a crop duster flying low across the field. The feeling of soft lint and hard seed before the boll is scooped up by the picker and later processed at the cotton gin. These farm life experiences are ingrained in your memory to be pulled up and savored during times of quiet contemplation.

Those who have been blessed with artistic talent take their farm life observations to the next level by preserving and interpreting them through paintings, photographs, sculptures made from old farm equipment, stories, songs and videos. A few that come to mind include Jack DeLoney, Harris Barnes, Bill Barksdale, Jimmy Reed, Mack Ray, Luke Bryan, John Lopez and all of the folks who have contributed to the “My Turn” column published each month in Cotton Farming magazine.

Another creative work came across my desk recently. Ken Legé, a cotton development specialist with PhytoGen, sent me a song and video he wrote and produced titled “American Farmer.” Legé grew up on a “weekend cattle farm” in Winnie, Texas, and now resides in Lubbock.

“I’ve played country music since I was 14 years old. It’s what I do when I’m not thinking about cotton,” he says. “The inspiration for ‘American Farmer’ came from the growers and other cotton industry folks I’ve worked around for 20-plus years. It is my tribute to all the folks who somehow make it work out in the field against what seems to be overwhelming odds.”

Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite before you check it out on YouTube:

“A hundred thousand miles a year down the same dirt road
Same old fields, but always more money owed
Through floods and rains and droughts and hail
Never thinking they could ever fail…
Puts it all on the line just to make a buck
But has a corner-office view from his pickup truck
American farmer….”

Farming is a way of life that sustains those who go to the field every day and inspires those who record the experience in a multitude of genres. Thanks to all of you!

If you have comments, please send them to: Cotton Farming Magazine, 7201 Eastern Ave., Germantown, TN, 38138. Contact Carroll Smith via email at

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