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Posts Tagged ‘Cotton Fields’

“The cotton fields, that’s where the music came from. Chopping cotton, picking cotton, had to have a good mule to stand up in front of you. Soon, everybody be singing to chase away those blues.”
James “T-Model” Ford

When I was a little bitty baby 
My mama would rock me in the cradle 
In them old cotton fields back home
Cotton Fields by Lead Belly

 

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You may have never seen cotton fields in the south, or heard of Huddie Ledbetter—who is better known as Lead Belly. But the two came together in 1940 when Lead Belly recorded a song he wrote called Cotton Fields. As you can see from the links below the song found its way into the world via a variety of musicians including Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, Harry Belafonte, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Elvis— along with Lead Belly’s original version.

Lead Belly was a blues musician born in 1888 on a plantation in Louisiana. He was one of those great musicians that led a tumultuous life. One that included prison time, as well as playing in clubs in New York City. Lead Belly died in 1949, but his influence has carried on well after his death. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain said Lead Belly was his favorite performer just before playing Lead Belly’s  Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

According to Wikipedia, Cotton Fields was featured on the TV programs The Muppet Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and in the movies Elvis: That’s the Way It Is and Cool Hand Luke.

And for what it’s worth, I didn’t take that cotton field photo above in Mississippi or Louisiana, but outside Mobile, Alabama.

Scott W. Smith

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