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Tennessee Ernie Ford performs "Sixteen Tons"

Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded "Sixteen Tons" in 1955 as the B-side of his cover of the Moon Mullican standard "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry". With Ford's snapping fingers and a unique clarinet-driven pop arrangement, it quickly became a million seller.It hit Billboard's country music chart in November and held the No. 1 position for ten weeks, then crossed over and held the number 1 position on the pop music chart for eight weeks,besting the competing version by Johnny Desmond. In the United Kingdom, Ford's version competed with versions by Edmund Hockridge and Frankie Laine. Nevertheless, Ford's version was the more successful, spending four weeks at number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in January and February 1956.

 

Laine's version was not released in the United States but sold well in the UK. Ford's version was released on 17 October and by 28 October had sold 400,000 copies. On 10 November, a million copies had been sold; two million were sold by 15 December.

Tennessee Ernie Ford - 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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