Released in 2006 on the album of the same name, “Snake Farm” has become one of Ray Wylie Hubbard‘s biggest hits and a modern-day classic – which may be surprising not only considering the legendary career that Hubbard’s had but also the novelty nature of the song.
Everybody who’s reading this has probably heard “Snake Farm” by now, and knows the story about a girl named Ramona who works down at the – you guessed it, snake farm.
But did you know that “Snake Farm” was inspired by a real place?
Turns out the “snake farm” in the song is actually the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels, Texas, a roadside attraction that’s been around since 1967 and advertises its extensive collection of “snakes, reptiles and other exotic mammals.”
The snake farm offers visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals, including their giant Burmese pythons, corn snakes, and baby alligators.
But Ray Wylie Hubbard doesn’t really seem to be a fan of snakes – and when he drove past the snake farm, he decided to write a song about it.
Explaining the inspiration for his hit, Hubbard recalled seeing the snake farm on the side of the road:
“There’s an old snake farm in New Braunfels, Texas between Austin and San Antonio. It’s been there about 40 years. And there’s a rumor that it was something more than a snake farm but I don’t know about that. Doesn’t make any difference.
I’ve driven by it probably 10,000 times. So one day I’m driving by and all of a sudden I see the snake farm…
I see the snake farm there and I’m driving along and all of a sudden I go, ‘Ooh, just sounds nasty.’
I said, ‘Well, it is. It’s not a church or a hospital, it’s a reptile house.’
I’m like, ‘God, snake farm, just sounds nasty. Snake farm, well it pretty much is. Snake farm, it’s a reptile house. Snake farm, eww.’
I kept singing that in my head for some strange reason, and then I said, ‘Well, what am I gonna do with this?’
Well, I’ll make it a love song. I’ll make it about a man who doesn’t like snakes, but he’s in love with a woman that works at the snake farm.”
Hubbard then went about trying to figure out what kind of woman would work at the snake farm, and finally came up with Ramona, a woman who drinks malt liquor and looks like a “tempest storm.”
The result was one of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s biggest hits – and probably quite a bit of publicity for the longstanding “snake farm.”