CUMBERLAND BLUES

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
CUMBERLAND BLUES
A geographical name with a rich history, the Cumberland being referred to in the song is
probably the Cumberland Mountains, or, possibly, the county or town (located in Harlan
County) of Cumberland, Kentucky. All place names in the region stem from the name of
the Cumberland River, which “flows through southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee,
687 miles long,” according to The American Places Dictionary. (Also according to this
source, the river was in turn named “for the county of Cumberland, England. Name made
popular by Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, victor over Highlander Scots
at Culloden in 1746.”
Interestingly, Cumberland County, England, is an important mining region, principally
for iron ore, but also for coal!). Written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia, it was
preformed by the Grateful Dead throughout their years together.
I can’t stay here much longer, Melinda
The sun is getting high
I can’t help you with your troubles
If you won’t help with mine
I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Gotta get down to the mine
You keep me up just one more night
I can’t stop here no more
Little Ben clock says quarter to eight
You kept me up till four
I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Or I can’t work there no more
Lotta poor man make a five dollar bill
Will keep him happy all the time
Some other fellow’s making nothing at all
And you can hear him cry
Can I go, buddy, can I go down
Take your shift at the mine
Gotta get down to the Cumberland mine
That’s where I mainly spend my time
Make good money, five dollars a day
If I made any more I might move away
Lotta poor man got the Cumberland Blues