A Million Barrels A Day

Caught a rerun of the Beverly Hillbillies the other day. Then I turned on the news and learned that we’ve reached a milestone in North Dakota–we’re producing a million barrels of oil a day–way more than old Jed Clampett could have imagined. And there’s the North Dakota Petroleum Council feeding crawdads and Cajun shrimp to 3,000 North Dakotans to celebrate the occasion. Old Jed would have loved that. Dang it, I wish I been there to see it myself. But Jed’s theme song stuck in my head as I went out to work in the garden, and by the time I had finished weeding the peas, I thought I might have the makings of a song for a new North Dakota reality TV show: “A Million Barrels A Day.” Fire up the band, boys.

A Million Barrels a Day: The Ballad of Jack Dalrymple

(With apologies to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and REAL hillbillies everywhere)


Come and listen to a story about a man named Jack,

A rich Valley farmer and political hack.

He’s in Bismarck governing, the state ain’t doing so good,

When up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude.


Oil, that is. Black Gold. Bakken Style. Lots of it.


Well, next thing you know Jack’s friends got millions.

The frackin’ and the flarin’ means the state’s got billions.

No rules or regulations, just like the Wild West,

Jack says “Don’t worry folks, I know what’s best.”


Train wrecks. Oil spills. Broken Pipelines. Lots of ‘em.


The rich guys’ helpers are livin’ in their cars,

And cashing in their paychecks in McKenzie County bars.

Hookers on the corner, rapes and robberies on the rise,

A couple thousand gas flares lighting up the prairie skies.


Dust Clouds. Filter socks. Out-of-state plates. Everywhere.


A million barrels a day is a whole lot of oil,

When the wells start leaking, it’s soaked up by our soil.

The critters and the crops will just have to move aside,

‘Cuz the oil boys are taking us on a good long ride.


Harold Hamm. Lynn Helms. Special Places: Not so much.


Well, now it’s time to say good-bye to Jack and all he’s done.

The Bad Lands ain’t the same no more, the oil boys had their fun.

Yep, Jack sure made them happy, as they drove us in the ditch

He sold us out, his friends got rich, and he’s a happy son of a . . . gun.

(Hey, rhymes with done and fun.)


Prairie Hillbillies. That’s what they call us now. “We skinned ‘em good.”

We might be back, Jack. Hear?


4 thoughts on “A Million Barrels A Day

  1. Oh, that will become a classic….and I am a fan of the original Hillbillies, but now I will only see Jack in the opening credits. I wish this little ditty had been going through my head when I listened to his mind numbing comments yesterday. Did someone actually teach him to be so dull and lifeless? Not sure what was worse: Ron Ness, the gov, or Bishop whatshisname.


  2. Jim,
    I believe that I know you, perhaps from many years ago. I was the automation consultant for the nd state library and more. I have been reading post of yours about the fracking effect on north dakota. What no one knows is that I am an oilfield brat from the san joaquin valley in california.
    I did not see how to follow your posts. I would like to do that. Help?


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