"HAMMER SONGS" - Life on a Chain Gang, 1939.

These songs were recorded by John & Ruby Lomax on their 1939 field trip through the southern states of the USA, recording people as they came across them. This selection focuses on the worksongs that convicts, prisoners and chain gangs sang as they toiled by the side of the road or in the state penitentiary.

Given the subject matter and circumstances, don't expect perfect sound quality; there are crackles, cuts, glitches, and skips (particularly at the very end of the tracks) but make no mistake.....this IS history.

01. You Got to Lay Down and Die (Charles Clark/Henry Wesley/Group of convicts)
02. Old Rattler (Tommy Woods/Group of convicts)
03. We Don't Have No Payday Here (Group of Convicts)
04. Gambler, Where Was You When They Called Yo' Name (Wade "Monkey" Bolden/Group of Convicts
05. Hammer Song (Group of Convicts)
06. Crawdad (Leroy Martin/Group of Convicts)
07. Rosie (Group of Convicts)
08. Stewball (Group of Convicts)
09. Way Out on the Mountain (Group of Women Convicts)
10. Red Hot Sun Turning Over (John Brown/Group of Convicts)
11. New Buryin' Ground (John Brown/Group of Convicts)
13. The Gospel Train ("Hambone"/Chain Gang)
14. Po' Laz'us (Carol Smith/Chain Gang)
15. The Longest Day I Ever Lived (John Brown/Group of Convicts)
16. Driving Levee (Group of Convicts)
17. Early in the Mornin' (Group of Convicts)
18. Hell Down Yonder ("Hambone"/Chain Gang)
19. Ain't No Heaven on de County Road ("Slick" Owens/Chain Gang)
20. Old Hannah (Tommy Woods/Group of Convicts)
21. Big-Leg Rosie (Frank "Gulfport Red" Mixon/Group of Convicts)
22. Slow Drag Work Song (Tommy Woods/Group of Convicts)
23. Rosie (Group of Convicts)
24. Makes a Long Time Man Feel Bad (Group of Convicts)
25. Cap'n, I Got a Home in Oklahoma (Tommy Woods/Group of Convicts)

All these tracks are in the public domain, have never been released commercially, and are a part of the Library of Congress' holdings.

For hundreds of other tracks I highly recommend you visit:

The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip is a multiformat ethnographic field collection that includes nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other manuscripts documenting a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States. Beginning in Port Aransas, Texas, on March 31, 1939, and ending at the Library of Congress on June 14, 1939, John Avery Lomax, Honorary Consultant and Curator of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center), and his wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, recorded approximately 25 hours of folk music from more than 300 performers. These recordings represent a broad spectrum of traditional musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs. Photographic prints from the Lomaxes' other Southern states expeditions, as well as their other recording trips made under the auspices of the Library of Congress, illustrate the collection, since no photographs from the 1939 Southern States Recording Trip have been identified.