Here is a great example of how a ‘pop’ song became a folk song. Piano player and publisher Bob Miller wrote this song, along with Emma Dermer, in 1929 and copyrighted under the title “’Leven Cent Cotton Forty Cent Meat.” The song refers to the low price per pound paid for picking cotton and the high (relatively) price paid for meat. The song became very popular among the actual field workers and folksingers singing of their plight. Right up until 1946 versions of this song appeared with higher prices attached to the products. Along the way verses have been added praising the Resettlement Administration and at least one directed to the plight of western migrants.
Miller was born in 1895 and had his first song published in 1905. He died in New York City in 1955. This version is sung by Pete Seeger.
With the title ‘Ten-Cent Cotton…’ this turns up at the end of ch 17 of The Grapes of Wrath where it’s one of the songs sung in the migrant camps on the road west. Also mentioned: ‘Why Do You Cut You’r Hair, Girls?’ ‘I’m Leaving Old Texas’ ‘McAlester Blues’ and ‘Jesus Calls Me to His Side’.