Song of the Day: Alabama Bound by Leadbelly

It’s another very old song today, it’s even older than yesterday’s SOTD post! Dated official to 1909 because Robert Hoffman published it as a ragtime melody but that’s without any lyrics. A couple of artists do claimed composing credits for those words, both under totally different song titles: Trixie Smith for Railroad Blues of 1925 and much later Jelly Roll Morton for Don’t You Leave Me Here of 1938. Which both included the words made more well-known by today’s feature song at the top of the post by Leadbelly who recorded it in 1940.

I’m also including below Alan Lomax‘s Library of Congress recording of Jell Roll in 1949 telling the story of writing it because he can tell a great tale but who knows if he’s telling the true about being the very first? If you do look into it, it dates back before those two because Southern Rag Medley No. Two (Strains from Flat Branch) by John W. “Blind” Boone includes tiny bit of it’s music of 1912 and before that I Hab Leff Alabama by Marshall S. Pike who published it’s in 1849 has the sentiment of the later song and earliest lyrics found in that but the melody is different plus was written in a dialect. In 1928 the Tennessee Ramblers recorded Preacher Got Drunk and Laid His Bible Down which has the very same chorus. Professor Newman Ivey White published a book called American Negro Folk Songs in 1928 were the lyrics can be found too, not set to music so it’s a collected of words cataloged by him from work songs of prisoners in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. That’s a lot of possibility’s, are you confessed yet? To say the very least the song known as Alabama Bound got around a bit but I guess but all that could be typed out a bit better by me? Sorry, I do love all this kind-of stuff! Here’s three tracks of the most interesting I’ve been talking about, that I can find on uploaded to YouTube:

Railroad Blues by Trixie Smith:

Preacher Got Drunk and Laid His Bible Down by Tennessee Ramblers:

The Story of “I’m Alabama Bound” by Jelly Roll Morton:

That’s another four songs this Monday morning post and the history lesson over again, hopefully not boring? That’s the second song named after Alabama, back to back tracks on my SOTD posts but I think, that American state could have some more songs named after it? Anyone wanna share or anything you’ll like to say, please do!

It’s LB and his 12 string guitar!

Cheers! 🙂


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