Breedloves's Folk Songs


“Poor Howard” is a song written by Huddie Ledbetter “Leadbelly”. Poor Howard was a
traveling fiddler during the early 1800’s. He went all around over the plantations. He
would play for what were called “Sukey Jumps”. He was the first man to start the sukey
jump playin’ in the world, and he would go all around, while po’ Howard is dead and
gone, everybody sings this song about him. Sukey or sookie was apparently a Deep South
slang term dating from the 1820’s and referring to a servant or slave. A sukey jump,
therefore, was once a dance or party in slave quarters. Huddie himself once explained the
term by saying, ‘Because they dance so fast, the music was so fast, and the people had to
jump, so they called them sooky (sic) jumps.’ Sookie, Huddie thought, was derived from
the field term for a cow, and was used to call a cow. Whatever the case, these late
nineteenth century country dances gave Leadbelly the first public platform for his music.”
Poor Howard’s dead and gone, left me here to sing his song
Poor Howard’s dead and gone, left me here to sing his song
Poor Howard had a wife and she nagged him all his life
So he used his butcher knife—like I said he had a wife
Now poor Howard’s dead and gone…
They took Howard off to jail, wouldn’t let me go his bail,
They said if he is your friend, buy a lilly for his hand
Poor Howard’s dead and gone…
[ ac.guitar ]
When we laid his bones to rest we fullfilled his last request
He said buddies bury me far from her as I can be
Now poor Howard’s dead and gone…
His last words were “Friends, goodbye. Don’t you worry; don’t you cry.
I don’t mind this a gettin’ hung, at least I stopped her naggin’ tongue.”
Now poor Howard’s dead and gone..

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