A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Rule #1 to working out: Never skip Monday” (5/26)
“Music picks you up from where people leave you” (5/26)
“My college graduation was in an arena, and it was hot in there, like 5,000 degrees” (5/26)
“In America, you can always find a party. In Russia, the party always finds you” (5/26)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/26)
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Entry from June 26, 2009
“Pie in the sky”

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Pie in the sky
Pie in the sky is a phrase that means a fanciful notion or ludicrous concept. It was apparently coined by Joe Hill in his song “The Preacher and the Slave” in reference to Christian evangelists’ promise of paradise in Heaven after death. It may also refer to:

. Pie in the Sky (TV series), a UK television series about a retired police officer turned restaurateur
. Pie in the Sky (1996 film), 1996 romantic-comedy starring Josh Charles and Anne Heche

Wikipedia: The Preacher and the Slave
“The Preacher and the Slave” is a song written by Joe Hill in 1911. It was written as a parody of the song “In the Sweet By and By”. The Industrial Workers of the World (commonly known as the Wobblies) concentrated much of its labor trying to organize migrant workers in lumber and construction camps. When the workers returned to the cities, the Wobblies faced the Salvation Army. Several songs were written parodying the Salvation Army’s hymns, “The Preacher and the Slave” being the most successful. It also invented the phrase “pie in the sky.” The song was first published in the Little Red Songbook.

Lyrics and style
Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
But when asked how ‘bout something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die

And the Starvation Army they play,
And they sing and they clap and they pray,
Till they get all your coin on the drum,
Then they tell you when you’re on the bum

Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out
And they holler, they jump and they shout
Give your money to Jesus, they say,
He will cure all diseases today

If you fight hard for children and wife-
Try to get something good in this life-
You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

Workingmen of all countries, unite
Side by side we for freedom will fight
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we’ll sing this refrain

You will eat, bye and bye,
When you’ve learned how to cook and how to fry;
Chop some wood, ‘twill do you good
Then you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye


The chorus is sung in a call and response pattern.

You will eat [You will eat] bye and bye [bye and bye]
In that glorious land above the sky [Way up high]
Work and pray [Work and pray] live on hay [live on hay]
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die [That’s a lie!]


Thus the final verse becomes

You will eat [You will eat] bye and bye [bye and bye]
When you’ve learned how to cook and how to fry [How to fry]
Chop some wood [Chop some wood], ‘twill do you good [do you good]
Then you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye [That’s no lie]


The fourth verse is not normally sung today, probably because of the reference to “children and wife” not being gender-neutral. Other variations include changing the second line of the chorus to “In that glorious land up in the sky” and the last line of the third verse to “And you will eat on that glorious day.” Workingmen is normally changed to working folks, as well. The above lyrics are from the 19th edition of the Little Red Songbook.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
pie in the sky, n. and adj.
colloq. (orig. U.S.).
A. n.
1. A reward in heaven for virtue or suffering on earth.
1911 J. HILL in G. M. Smith Labor Martyr (1969) i. 20 You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
1926 Amer. Mercury Jan. 65/1 Pie in the sky is a somewhat cynical reference to the bourgeois heaven.
2. An unrealistic prospect of future happiness; something that is pleasant to contemplate but very unlikely to be realized.
1941 Archit. Rev. 89 117/1 Utopianism, or wishful-thinking, or pie-in-the-sky, or whatever we care to call it.
1972 Business Week 7 Oct. 80/1 ‘Everybody told us flexi-time was pie in the sky,’ says Gösta Rehn.
B. adj. (attrib.).  Usu. with hyphens. Unrealistic, unattainable, illusory.
1930 Amer. Jrnl. Sociol. 35 667 It is as though a match had been set to the whole inflammable social structure with its elements of exploitation..and pie-in-the-sky religion.
1971 Physics Bull. June 322/1 Is this just pie-in-the-sky dreaming about some utopian future where there will be no more pollution, poverty, malnutrition and similar afflictions?

17 March 1915, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, “I.W.W. Agitator Attacks Sunday,” pg. 7:
“The Industrial Workers of the World look on all religion as a private matter, but when a man brought in by the manufacturers tells you you’ll get pie in the sky when you die it’s foolishness.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Friday, June 26, 2009 • Permalink