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in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:37 pm
by namaste
I have used the phrase,"You're shitting in tall cotton now!", for many years. I figured it came from my early childhood in Ala. Recenly some one asked me what exactly that meant, and I found myself at a loss for words. Any one here that can help with my dilema???

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:44 pm
by Bobinwales
I can safely say that it’s not a colloquial or any other expression that I have heard on this side of the Pond, but then we don't see a lot of tall cotton here either!

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:10 pm
by Erik_Kowal
What's the context in which you would you this expression, Marc?

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:47 pm
by Erik_Kowal
I received a PM from Marc which, since it contains nothing of a confidential nature, I reproduce as follows:

"Greetings,
Thank you for your response and inquiry. I would use this phrase when some one has done something which turned out well. Let's say some one went to interview for a position, and got the job, as well as more salary and benefits than expected. Well, you're shitting in tall cotton now! Does that help at all."

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:26 pm
by dalehileman
shit in high cotton ....to live well and opulently; enjoy prosperity, esp newly...[fr the notion that well-grown cotton means wealth]--H-C Dict of Am. Slang

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:11 pm
by russcable
IMO, "in tall cotton" is used as a standalone idiom. I usually hear sitting (not shitting) in tall cotton, but also standing in tall cotton or just "we're in tall cotton now". "in high cotton" gets more google hits in it's various forms than "in tall cotten".

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:39 pm
by Shelley
Are you sure it's not referring to thread count? High cotton thread count makes for a much more luxurious and expensive diaper.

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:46 pm
by gdwdwrkr
HA! No black eyes around here!

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:45 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Marc, Adding to Dale’s quote from Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang and Russ' SITTING/STANDING addition:

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang

SHIT IN HIGH COTTON verb (also SHIT IN TALL COTTON) [1930s and still in use] (U.S.) To live prosperously, to feel happy, to be important, euphemistic alternatives include FLY/LIVE/TRAVEL IN HIGH COTTON [‘shit’ + ‘high cotton’]

HIGH COTTON noun (also TALL COTTON) [1930s and still in use] (originally U.S. Black) The good life, the materially successful life. [the wealth that comes from a high cotton crop]
____________________________

Dictionary of American Slang by Wentworth & Flexner

SHIT IN HIGH COTTON: To live more prosperously, pleasantly, or luxuriously than one has formerly; to be enjoying the results of good fortune; to eat high off the hog.
______________________________________________________________________

An alternative view of the origin of IN TALL/HIGH COTTON is that as far as the folks who picked the cotton were concerned, picking ‘high’ cotton was less backbreaking than picking ‘low’ cotton and so was a positive thing. But prosperity brought on by a thriving cotton crop gets my vote. It is not entirely clear, however, which came first, SHITTIN’ IN TALL/HIGH COTTON or the TALL/HIGH COTTON, but I would guess the former.

Other synonyms for IN TALL/HIGH COTTON and SHITTIN’ IN TALL/HIGH COTTON include DOING WELL, LUSH LIVING, LIVING IN THE LAP OF LUXURY, and LIVING HIGH ON THE HOG.

The earliest quote I found (1942) refers to ‘defecating in high cotton’ and all indications are that Texans were a big fan of the expression in all forms – Lyndon Johnson used it often in public (without the “shittin,” of course – see 1960, and 1965 quotes).
<1942 “We frequently, if less delicately, refer to times of great prosperity as those in which we were defecating ‘IN HIGH COTTON.’”—‘Texas’ by Perry, page 136>

<1949 ‘HIGH (TALL) COTTON, IN THE . . . Doing well. ‘He had trouble at first but now he is IN THE HIGH COTTON.’” (as of 1920, west Texas)—‘Publication of the American Dialect Society,’ No 18, page 7>

<1950 “LIVIN’ IN HIGH COTTON. Suwannee backwoods simile for lush living.”(Florida)— ‘Publication of the American Dialect Society,’ No. 14, page 79>

<1960 “Mr. Truman [[former U.S. President]] and a small band of enthusiastic Democrats were on hand at the airport to greet the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. But what impressed Mr. Johnson [[L.B.J]] was the presence of Mrs. Truman, who made one of her rare public appearances. . . . “That’s what makes me know I’m IN TALL COTTON, as we’d say down home,’ the Texan told the crowd.” Ibid. “I’m [[L.B.J]] IN TALL COTTON tonight.”—‘New York Times,’ 23 September, and 23 October, page 11 and SM19>

<1965 “To shift the idiom to Texas, the President [[L.B.J]] is IN TALL COTTON and eating high on the hog.C—‘New York Times,’ 18 April, page E3>

<1979 “My uncle . . . he finish college at fiftteen, then they sent him to that law school up the road thereare in Richmond. First nigger to go ovah theyare, and he finish top of his class. Went on up thereare to Washington City, commence to work for the gov'ment. That boy was SHITTIN' IN HIGH COTTON! But don't you know they come in the night and kilt him in his own apartment in Washington City. Yes, yes they done the deed, my Lord yes.”—‘Callaloo,’ No. 6, May, page 11>

<1980 “Diane Ladnier . . .is IN HIGH COTTON, just now . . . ‘I’m being paid a fortune. The money’s so good hell wouldn’t have it’ [she said].” (Louisiana)—‘Capital Times,’ (Madison, Wisconsin), 28 January, page 17/1>

<1990 “. . . a musician friend was sailing around the world on a yacht - a bit of a tax dodge . . . He invited us to his boat. There was this British naval crew piping us aboard this spotless yacht. Carl [[Perkins, a founding father of Rock and Roll]] was really impressed with the buffet and the champagne, and the way it was all laid out. He came over to me and said. 'Paul [[McCartney]], where I come from they call this SHITTIN' IN HIGH COTTON.' It's one of my favorite expressions. After that, we recorded "Get It," and at the end both of us are laughing, and that's the joke we're laughing at.”—‘Guitar Player Magazine,’ Interview with Paul McCartney, July>
Ken G – June 1, 2006

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 9:28 am
by tony h
Surely the most famous use is from Summertime

Summertime and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin', and the cotton is high
Your Daddy's rich and your Mama is good lookin'
So, hush, little baby don't you cry

I also think there is an agricultural benefit to the crop being tall. I'll see what I can find

regards

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:44 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Could be the meaning is as simple as, "I's a slave, an' this is my privacy...little things mean a lot."

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 8:13 am
by tony h
Talking to my farmer friends (the older ones) there does seem to be a relationship to "high" and the quality of the crop. It does not mean that the crop is higer than another, just that it has reached its correct height ie not stunted. Stunted is the result of poor seed or a bad start to the growing season.

So if the crop is high it indicates your prospects are good. As all the farmers point out it is only when you have it in the barns that you know what you have got.

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:38 am
by gdwdwrkr
Haves vs. have gots,
topic "lookin for a home".

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:43 pm
by MeadowsMom
I realize this was an older post but I still had to reply. I believe the phrase "shittin in high cotton" refers to the fact that back in the day, people did not have indoor plumbing. So the outhouse was out behind the main house closer to the crop fields. And if your cotton crop was a good or succesful one, the plants would have been big and tall or high. So this phrase would refer to shittin in the outhouse surrounded by a succesful crop which would reap the farmer a good profit.

in tall/high cotton - shittin' in tall/high cotton

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:35 pm
by hsargent
Never heard the expression.

I have heard being in tall or high cotton meaning being very well off all my 65 years.

The two thoughts are not compatible to me and doubt the expressions routine usage.