"Sixteen Tons" is a song written by Merle Travis about a coal miner, based on life in coal mines in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Travis first recorded the song at the Radio Recorders Studio B in Hollywood, California on August 8, 1946. Cliffie Stone played bass on the recording. It was first released in July 1947 by Capitol on Travis' album Folk Songs of the Hills.The song became a gold record.
The line "You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt" came from
Merle Robert Travis (November 17, 1917 - October 20, 1983) was an American country and western singer, songwriter, and guitarist born in Rosewood, Kentucky. His songs' lyrics often discussed both the lives and the economic exploitation of American coal miners. Among his many well-known songs are "Sixteen Tons," "Re-Enlistment Blues," "I am a Pilgrim," and "Dark as a Dungeon." However, it is his unique guitar style, still called Travis Picking by guitarists, as well as his interpretations of the