SIXTEEN TONS

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • SIXTEEN TONS
    “Sixteen Tons” is a song about the misery of coal mining, first recorded in 1946 by U.S.
    country singer Merle Travis and released on his box set album Folk Songs of the Hills the
    following year. A 1955 version recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford was on the b-side of
    his cover of the Moon Mullican standard, You Don’t Have to Be a Baby to Cry“.
    However, it was Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” that reached number one in the Billboard charts,
    besting the performance of the competing version by Johnny Desmond. Another
    competing version by Frankie Laine was released only in the U.K. where it gave Ford’s
    version some stiff competition on the charts. On October 17, it was released and, by
    October 28, it sold 400,000 copies. On November 10, a million copies had been sold. The
    record had sold two million copies by December 15.
    Some people say a man is made outta mud
    A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
    Muscle and blood and skin and bones
    A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong
    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store
    I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
    I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
    I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
    And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”
    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store
    I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
    Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name
    I was raised in the canebrake by an ol’ mama lion
    Cain’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line
    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store
    If you see me comin’, better step aside
     A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
    One fist of iron, the other of steel
    If the right one don’t a-get you
    Then the left one will
    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store