Tag Archives: prison

Another Man Done Gone

TITLE: Another Man Done Gone AUTHOR: Unknown CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain KEYWORDS: prison, escape, homicide EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: John Avery Lomax met Vera Hall in the 1930s and recorded her for the Library of Congress. Lomax wrote that she had the” loveliest voice he had ever recorded”. The BBC played Hall’s recording of “Another Man read more »

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (Keep Your Hand on the Plow)

TITLE: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (Keep Your Hand on the Plow) AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain KEYWORDS: Bible, religious, prison EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1917 (Cecil Sharp collection) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Adapted for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1950’s. Based on the classic hymn “Hold On” (a.k.a. “Gospel Plow”), this song’s read more »

Worried Man Blues

TITLE: Worried Man Blues AUTHOR: unknown, although copyrighted by AP Carter CATEGORY: Traditional, Debated KEYWORDS: work, prison, train, abandonment, punishment EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1929 (recording, Carter Family) It was great to hear Pete Seeger sing “Worried Man Blues” just months before his death. It will be a performance I won’t soon forget. (sgg) “Worried Man Blues,” read more »

Midnight Special

TITLE: Midnight Special AUTHOR: Unknown CATEGORY: Public Domain, Traditional KEYWORDS: prison, hard times, warning, crime, police, train EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: Sodarissa Miller, Silvertone Records, August 1925. According to Alan Lomax, the Midnight Special was a real train: the Southern Pacific Golden Gate Limited. Leadbelly popularized the song upon his release from Sugar Land prison in Texas, read more »

Down in the Valley

NAME: Down in the Valley AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain EARLIEST DATE: Henry Marvin Belden, 1865-1954, compiler. Missouri Folk-Lore Society Ballads, Songs, etc., collected between 1903 and 1917 (This song in 1909) KEYWORDS: love, courting, separation, prison In Pete Seeger’s Americas Favorite Ballads, the liner notes about Down in the Valley state the song “was read more »

Whiskey in the Jar

TITLE: Whiskey in the Jar AUTHOR: Unknown CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain KEYWORDS: robbery, prison, love, trial, punishment, escape, outlaw EARLIEST DATE: 1855 (broadside, Murray Mu23-y1:137) “Throughout history outlaw heroes have served to provide oppressed people with dignity during their subjugation. Swashbuckling, romantic figures, they represented traditional justice as opposed to the self-interest and inequity of the state. Set in 17th Century read more »

Billy Broke Locks

TITLE: Billy Broke Locks AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: traditional, public domain EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (Barry, Eckstorm, Smyth) KEYWORDS: prison escape dancing freedom HISTORICAL REFERENCES: monetary exchange in the US Colonies before the revolution. Billy Broke Locks (or the Escape of Old John Webb). Traditional dating back to 1737. Quoting Lomax: “At that time exchange in the colonies was based read more »