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Merle Travis performs "Sixteen Tons"

"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 a letter written by Travis' brother John. Another line came from their father, a coal miner, who would say: "I can't afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store."

 

A 1955 version recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford reached number one in the Billboard charts,while another version by Frankie Laine was released only in Western Europe, where it gave Ford's version competition.

 

On March 25, 2015, Ford's version of the song was inducted into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry.

Merle Travis - Sixteen Tons Lyrics

 

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



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