American Epic: Lead Belly (Mono) Lead Belly
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- 1Mr. Tom Hughes' Town03:08
- 2C.C. Rider02:57
- 3You Can't Lose Me, Charlie02:57
- 4Kansas City Papa02:48
- 5Death Letter Blues, Pt. I02:59
- 6Death Letter Blues, Pt. II02:59
- 7Fort Worth and Dallas Blues03:00
- 8Bull Cow02:43
- 9Ox Drivin' Blues02:54
- 10Shorty George03:05
- 11You Don't Know My Mind03:02
- 12Match Box Blues03:02
- 13My Baby Quit Me02:54
- 14Baby Don't You Love Me No More02:51
Info for American Epic: Lead Belly (Mono)
Louisiana delta native Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter is the master of twelve-string blues guitar. His story is one of high-highs and low-lows, from serving stints in prison after killing a man in a fight for a woman’s heart, but then eventually earning early release by entertaining his fellow prison-mates and penning a song for the governor, thus cementing his reputation of singing his way out of prison. Folklorists John and Alan Lomax were early supporters that brought Lead Belly to the attention of Ivy Leaguers as well as a European audience. His songs have been widely covered by artists such as Elvis, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, and the Grateful Dead.
Lead Belly, vocals, guitar
Please note: these are Mono recordings from 1928
He was born Huddie Ledbetter, on a Louisiana plantation. A big man, terribly strong. And all that strength was matched by a fiery temper. A combo that got him in trouble. By the time he was seventeen years old, he was on a chain gang. But he escaped. Three years later he was arrested, this time for murder, and sentenced to a Texas prison. Somewhere along the way he picked up a nickname, and Huddie Ledbetter became Lead Belly. But see, Lead Belly wasn’t just strong. He was super talented. He could play a number of instruments, especially an oversized twelve-string guitar he called Stella. Topping it off? He was a monster singer/songwriter. So after serving a little time, he wrote a song for the governor, asking to be released. It worked. Pretty incredible since that very governor had been elected on the promise he’d stop pardoning criminals.
Lead Belly was out of jail. But it didn’t last long. His temper caught up to him and he landed in a Louisiana prison for attempted homicide. There he met a father/son team of folklorists. John and Alan Lomax. They saw his musical potential and recorded hundreds of his songs while he was still behind bars. One of those tracks? Another plea to another governor. They sent him a disc with Lead Belly’s musical request for release. And it worked—again.
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