Huddie Ledbetter lyrics

Pete Seeger

Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man
Huddie got his music from the heart of the land
In his voice you could hear John Henry's hammering
While his hands would "buck and wing" upon the big 12-string
Sometimes a lion, sometimes a lamb
Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man

He's a long time gone but his songs live on
He's a long time gone but his songs live on
Down in Louisiana, 1888
There was a black baby born into a white man's state;

He saw the cane and cotton stretch for miles around
He heard his mama's voice a-singing when the sun went down
Into a world where having dark skin was a crime
Huddie was born - and started serving his time

Teenage Huddie went to Shreveport town
There he got in trouble, was jailhouse bound

The odds were slim that he would get out alive
But somehow Huddle and his music survived
He escaped just once, was put back again
He was called Leadbelly by the rest of the men

A collector, name a' Lomax, brought a record machine
Huddle sang 'em sweet and high, he sang 'em low and mean:
For years to come, they would tell the tale
Of how Huddie Ledbetter sang his way out-a jail
Sayin', "If I had you. Governor, like-a you got me
I'd awake up in the morning and I'd set you free"

He got his farewell ticket back in '49
He caught the Midnight Special on the Rock Island Line;
But I bet you when he wakened from his earthly dream
He was wakened by a kiss from a gal named Irene
Now millions of people the whole world around
Are taking Huddie's hammer up and swinging it down

Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man
Huddie got his music from the heart of the land
In his voice you could hear John Henry's hammering
While his hands would "buck and wing" upon the big 12-string
Sometimes a lion, sometimes a lamb
Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man

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