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Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly, was a unique figure in the American popular music of the 20th century. Ultimately, he was best remembered for a body of songs that he discovered, adapted, or wrote, including "Goodnight, Irene," "Rock Island Line," "The Midnight Special," and "Cotton Fields." But he was also an early example of a folksinger whose background had brought him into direct contact with the oral tradition by which folk music was handed down, a tradition that, by the early years of the century, already included elements of commercial popular music. Because he was an African-American, he is sometimes viewed as a blues singer, but blues (a musical form he actually predated) was only one of the styles that informed his music. He was a profound influence on folk performers of the 1940s such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, who in turn influenced the folk revival and the development of rock music from the 1960s onward, which makes his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, early in the hall's existence, wholly appropriate.

Huddie Ledbetter was born on the Jeter Plantation near the community of Shiloh, which is in turn near the town of Mooringsport, LA. He was the only son of a sharecropper who moved his family to nearby Harrison County, TX, when the child was about five. Ledbetter attended school from the age of eight to about 12 or 13, after which he worked full-time on the farm his father had managed to buy. He had shown an early interest in music, learning the button accordion as a child and playing in the school band. He later added other instruments, eventually turning primarily to the guitar, having obtained his first one in 1903. By his teens, he was playing and singing for money at local dances. At about the age of 16, he moved to Shreveport, LA, where he lived for two years supporting himself as a performer. From the ages of about 18 to 20, he traveled around Texas and Louisiana, performing and supplementing his income as a farm worker. Falling ill, he returned home, where he recovered, married, and settled down to work as a farmer. In 1910, he and his wife moved to Dallas, TX. There, possibly around 1912, he met the young street musician Blind Lemon Jefferson, five years his junior, and the two teamed up to play around the Dallas area for the next several years. During this period, he switched from the six-string to the 12-string guitar, the instrument that became his trademark.

Ledbetter moved back to Harrison County around 1915. In June, he was arrested due to an incident the specifics of which are lost to history. Eventually, he was convicted of carrying a pistol illegally and sentenced to 30 days on a chain gang. He escaped and moved to Bowie County, TX, where he lived under the name Walter Boyd and returned to performing while also working as a sharecropper. In December 1917, he was arrested and charged with the murder of Will Stafford, the husband of one of his cousins, and with "assault to murder" another man. He was convicted of both charges, the first carrying a sentence of five to 20 years, the second two to ten years, to be served consecutively. In prison, he gained his nickname, Lead Belly, and learned many songs from inmates. In January 1924, he sang for Texas Governor Pat Neff, including a specially written song in which he asked for a pardon. As Neff reached the end of his term as governor in January 1925, he actually did pardon Lead Belly, such that, instead of serving the minimum of seven years required by his sentences, he served six years, seven months, and eight days.

Lead Belly moved to Houston initially, then returned home before settling in Mooringsport. In January 1930, he was involved in a stabbing incident that led to his being charged with "assault with intent to murder." He was convicted, given a sentence of six to ten years, and sent to Angola Prison. There he was a model prisoner, and due to budgetary restrictions brought on by the Depression, he was able to participate in an early release program. He applied for such release in June 1933 and was told that he would be released the following year if Governor O.K. Allen approved the petition.

Song collector John Lomax, in the employ of the Library of Congress, visited Angola in July 1933 with his son Alan Lomax, looking for folk songs to record. They were introduced to Lead Belly, whom they recorded. This initial session, which has not been released commercially, included a song Lead Belly called "Irene" that he had learned from an uncle. Subsequent research has demonstrated that the song was not a traditional folk song, but rather in its original form was written and published in 1886 by African-American songwriter Gussie Lord Davis under the title "Irene, Good Night." But the version taught to Lead Belly by his uncle was much altered from Davis' original.

A year passed without any action being taken on Lead Belly's petition for early release. John and Alan Lomax returned to Angola in the summer of 1934, and they recorded another session with Lead Belly. A few of these recordings were released commercially by Elektra Records in 1966 in a box set called The Library of Congress Recordings and were reissued in 1991 by Rounder Records on a CD called Midnight Special. As that title indicates, among the songs was "Midnight Special," a song Lead Belly first heard during his incarceration in Texas in the early 1920s and which he adapted. The session also included "Governor O.K. Allen," a song Lead Belly had written to encourage the governor to sign his petition of release. The Lomaxes took a record of the song to the governor's office, though there is no evidence that he actually listened to it. But on July 25, 1934, he signed Lead Belly's petition, commuting his sentence to three to ten years, and since Lead Belly had already served four and a half years, he was released on August 1, 1934. In later years, the state of Louisiana repeatedly denied the legend that Lead Belly had sung his way out of prison for a second time.

Upon his release, Lead Belly initially moved to Shreveport, but in the fall of 1934 he sought out John Lomax, who was living in Texas, and went to work for him, acting as his chauffeur and assistant on further trips to prisons in search of songs. At the Cummins Prison Farm in Arkansas, Lead Belly first heard a prisoner perform "Rock Island Line," a song he added to his repertoire and altered extensively. In the winter of 1934-1935, he accompanied Lomax north, where they made a series of appearances at academic and scholarly gatherings such as the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in Philadelphia and lecture-performances at Yale and Harvard. They attracted considerable media attention, including articles in major newspapers and appearances on radio and newsreel versions of Time Marches On. Lead Belly signed a management agreement with Lomax and was in turn signed for a series of recordings by the American Record Corporation (ARC), which issued records on a variety of low-priced labels and also owned the venerable Columbia Records label. The ARC recordings, 40 sides, were made in January, February, and March 1935, though ARC only released two singles at the time, with a third issued the following year. Viewing Lead Belly as a blues artist, ARC emphasized that aspect of his large repertoire, but the records did not sell well in the blues market and most of the recordings remained unissued for decades. The first extensive release of them came with the Columbia Records LP Includes Legendary Performances Never Before Released in 1970, and more of them appeared on Columbia/Legacy's King of the 12-String Guitar in 1991. During this period, Lead Belly also made more recordings for the Library of Congress, some of which appeared on the 1966 Elektra LP and on the 1991 Rounder albums Midnight Special and Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil In.

In March 1935, John Lomax, who had found Lead Belly unreliable during a northeast tour, severed his relationship with the singer, and Lead Belly returned to Louisiana. There he obtained legal representation and sought more money from Lomax, and over a period of months the two worked out a settlement that allowed Lomax to use Lead Belly's songs in his book Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly, published in 1936. In February 1936, Lead Belly moved back north, settling in New York City and attempting to build a career as a performer. From 1937 to 1939, he made more recordings for the Library of Congress at the behest of Alan Lomax, some of which have appeared on the Elektra and Rounder albums already mentioned. He was taken up by left-wing activists who increasingly used folk music as a forum for the expression of their political beliefs, and though he himself appears to have had only a limited interest in politics in general, his fervor for civil rights, expressed in such songs as "The Bourgeois Blues," concurred with theirs. He became part of a community of urban folk musicians, including Aunt Molly Jackson, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and the team of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, among others.

In March 1939, Lead Belly was arrested for stabbing a man in New York. While on parole before trial, he made his second set of commercial recordings for Musicraft Records, a session arranged by Alan Lomax to help pay his legal bills. The recordings were issued initially on a Musicraft album called Negro Sinful Tunes and have since been reissued by such labels as Stinson, Everest, and Collectables. Lead Belly was convicted of third-degree assault and served an eight-month sentence.

The singer was busy in 1940, appearing on the network radio series Folk Music of America and Back Where I Come From and launching his own weekly 15-minute program on local WNYC, a show that ran for a year. He also undertook his third set of commercial recordings in June, this time for RCA Victor and accompanied on some tracks by the Golden Gate Quartet. These sessions resulted in an album called The Midnight Special and Other Southern Prison Songs, released on RCA's Bluebird imprint. A 1964 compilation of the material on RCA was called Midnight Special, there was a 1989 collection called Alabama Bound, and in 2003, as part of its Secret History of Rock & Roll series, Bluebird issued When the Sun Goes Down, Vol. 5: Take This Hammer, a compilation containing all 26 tracks that were recorded. In August 1940, Lead Belly also returned to recording for the Library of Congress, and some of these tracks have turned up on the previously mentioned Elektra set as well as on the Rounder albums Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil In and Let It Shine on Me (1991).

In May 1941, Lead Belly recorded his first session for Asch Records, a tiny independent label run by Moses Asch. Lead Belly went on to record extensively for Asch and its successors, Disc and Folkways, this material later reissued both by Smithsonian/Folkways (from the 1990s on) and by various small labels that acquired rights to it. In 1944, he moved to the West Coast, where he remained for the better part of two years. While there, he signed to Capitol Records and did three sessions for the label in October 1944 that resulted in a series of singles. Later, Capitol issued such compilation albums as Classics in Jazz (1953) and Leadbelly: Huddie Ledbetter's Best (1962), drawn from these sessions. Back in New York from 1946 on, Lead Belly continued to record for Folkways, his 1948 recordings later turning up on a series of LPs called Leadbelly's Last Sessions and gathered together into a four-CD box set by Smithsonian/Folkways in 1994.

By 1948, he was beginning to suffer unexplained spells of numbness in his legs, and was often forced to walk with a cane and perform sitting down. In May 1949, he toured in France, but his increasing physical difficulties led to a visit to a doctor who diagnosed him as having contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, an incurable condition leading to paralysis and death. Returning to the U.S., he was able to manage a few more performances, including ones in Texas and Oklahoma in June. (The Texas show was recorded and later released by Playboy Records under the title Leadbelly, erroneously marketed as the singer's last concert.) But he was soon bedridden, and he died at 61 in December.

Lead Belly's fame began to increase almost immediately after his death. In 1950, his song "Irene," now called "Goodnight, Irene," was recorded by the Weavers, a folk group including Pete Seeger and other musicians acquainted with Lead Belly, and became a number one pop hit, with hit covers by such pop singers as Frank Sinatra and a number one country recording by Ernest Tubb and Red Foley. The Weavers then adapted a Lead Belly song called "If It Wasn't for Dickey" (itself based on the Irish folk song "Drimmer's Cow") into "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," which they took into the Top 40 in 1951 and which Jimmie Rodgers covered for a Top Ten hit in 1957. In 1956, the Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group reached the Top Ten in the U.K. and the U.S. with their recording of "Rock Island Line," taken directly from Lead Belly's version, setting off the British skiffle fad that inspired many later British rock stars, including the Beatles. (Johnny Cash scored a Top 40 country hit with his version in 1970.) "The Midnight Special" in Lead Belly's version had first reached the charts for the Tiny Grimes Quintet in 1948. Paul Evans had a Top 40 hit with it in 1960, and Johnny Rivers also took it into the Top 40 in 1965. Lead Belly's "Cotton Fields" (aka "Old Cotton Fields at Home") was a Top 40 hit for the Highwaymen in 1961. All of these songs have become standards. When the folk revival hit in the late '50s, its practitioners frequently covered other songs associated with Lead Belly in arrangements that recalled his.

Lead Belly's own recordings, in addition to the more legitimate reissues on Rounder, Columbia/Legacy, RCA Victor, Capitol, and Smithsonian/Folkways, have turned up on a dizzying number of labels in the digital era, especially as they have come into the public domain in Europe (where copyrights extend only 50 years). Confusing as this discography may be, it is a testament to the continuing influence of Lead Belly on contemporary music. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

Disc 1

1. Goodnight Irene

2. The Bourgeois Blues

4. The Midnight Special

5. John Henry

7. Pick A Bale Of Cotton

8. Take This Hammer

10. Old Riley

11. Rock Island Line

12. The Gallis Pole

13. Ha-Ha This A Way

15. Boll Weevil

20. On A Monday

21. You Can't Lose Me, Cholly

22. Keep Your Hands Off Her

24. Alabama Bound

27. Green Corn

30. Julie Ann Johnson

32. Whoa, Back, Buck

33. Shorty George

34. Ham And Eggs

37. Noted Rider

38. Meeting At The Building

43. Ella Speed

44. Haul Away Joe

45. Old Man

47. Jean Harlow

48. Laura

50. Good Morning Blues

51. Sail On, Little Girl

52. Easy Rider

54. Duncan And Brady

56. T.B. Blues

57. Jim Crow Blues

58. Pigmeat

59. John Hardy

60. Outskirts Of Town

63. Red Cross Store Blues

112. House Of The Rising Sun

114. Diggin' My Potatoes

116. Backwater Blues

118. De Kalb Blues

Disc 4
Disc 5

Track List: Selected Sides 1934-1948, Vol. 2: Rock Island Line 1937-1948 (Remastered)

Disc 1
Disc 2

Track List: Selected Sides 1934-1948

Disc 1

10. Frankie And Albert

11. Ella Speed

13. Which Way Do The Red River Run

14. You Don't Know My Mind

16. Fort Worth And Dallas Blues

Disc 2

3. Midnight Special

16. De Kalb Blues

19. Shorty George

Disc 3

5. The Boll Weevil

7. Alberta

8. Easy Rider

9. Worried Blues

10. Don't You Love Your Daddy No More

11. You Can't Lose-A Me Cholly

13. Sail On, Little Girl

14. John Hardy

15. Howard Hughes

19. So Doggone Soon

21. Noted Rider Blues

Disc 4

1. Rock Island Line

2. Haul Away, Joe

5. Bill Brady

6. Blind Lemon (Memorial Record)

7. Jim Crow Blues

8. Jean Harlow

9. National Defense Blues

12. When A Man's A Long Way From Home

13. Laura

14. Big Fat Woman

15. Borrow Love And Go

16. Pigmeat

17. New York City

18. I'm Leavin' On The Morning Train

27. Fannin Street


Track List: The Blues Effect

1. Old Riley

2. Ella Speed

3. Grey Goose

4. Fort Worth And Dallas Blues

6. John Hardy

8. Green Corn

10. C.C. Rider

12. Packin' Trunk Blues

14. Yellow Gal

15. Take This Hammer

16. On A Monday

19. On A Christmas Day

20. Goodnight Irene

23. Tell Me Baby

24. House Of The Rising Sun

25. Pigmeat

26. Midnight Special

28. Shorty George

30. The Eagle Rocks

31. Good Morning Blues

32. Sweet Mary Blues

33. Rock Island Line

34. Meeting At The Building

35. Black Girl

37. Blind Lemon

38. Pick A Bale Of Cotton

39. Black Snake Moan

40. Fannin Street

41. Borrow Love And Go

44. Easy Rider

46. Where Did You Sleep Last Night

47. Laura

48. Grasshoppers In My Pillow


Track List: Huddie Ledbetters Best

1. Take This Hammer

2. Goodnight Irene

3. Rock Island Line

4. Tell Me Baby

5. Grasshoppers in My Pillow

6. Backwater Blues

7. Ella Speed

8. On a Christmas Day

9. Eagle Rock Rag

11. Sweet Mary Blues

12. The Eagle Rocks


Track List: The Legend Of Leadbelly - Goodnight Irene

1. Goodnight Irene

2. Looky Looky Yonder/Black Betty/Yellow Women's Doorbells

3. Poor Howard/Green Corn

4. De Kalb Blues

5. The Gallis Pole

6. The Bourgeois Blues (1941)

7. Noted Rider

8. Big Fat Woman

9. Borrow Love And Go

10. Bring Me Li'l Water Silvy

11. Julie Ann Johnson

12. Line 'Em

13. Whao, Back, Buck!

14. John Hardy (Accordion, 1943)


Track List: Red River Vol 2

1. Red River

2. You Don't Know My Mind

3. Take A Whiff One Me

4. Cc Rider

5. Leaving Blues

6. Blues About New York

7. Sail On Little Girl

8. Worried Blues

9. Rock Island Line

10. On A Monday

11. Becky Deem, She Was A Gamblin Gal

12. Ella Speed


Track List: Red River Vol 1

1. In New Orleans

2. Fannin Street (1940s)

3. Irene

4. New Yourk City

5. Cow Cow Yickey Yea

6. Noted Rider

7. Midnight Special

8. De Kalb Blues

9. How Long

10. Good Morning Blues

11. Match Box Blues

12. Frankie & Albert


Track List: Masterworks

1. Midnight Special

2. Gallis Pole

3. Dekalb Blues

4. John Hardy

5. Goodnight Irene

6. Bourgeois Blues

7. Pretty Flower In Your Backyard

8. Borrow Love & Go

9. Big Fat Woman

10. Julie Ann Johnson

11. Be So Glad When I Get Home

12. Old Ship Zion

13. I Don't Want No More Army Life

14. Ella Louise

15. Backwater Blues

16. Rock Island Line

17. Mary And Martha

18. Go Down Old Hannah


Track List: Diggin' My Potatoes

1. Packin' Trunk Blues

2. C.C. Rider

4. New Black Snake Moan

5. Alberta

6. Red River Blues

8. Matchbox Blues

10. The Bourgeois Blues

11. Whoa Back Buck

12. Rock Island Line

13. In The Evenin' (When The Sun Goes Down)

14. Take This Hammer

15. Goodnight Irene

16. Eagle Rock Rag

17. Grasshoppers In My Pillow

18. Diggin' My Potatoes

19. Corn Bread Rough


Track List: Boll Weevil Blues


Track List: Leadbelly Vol. 7 (1947-1949)

1. Green Corn ("This Is Jazz" Broadcast)

2. John Henry ("This Is Jazz" Broadcast)

3. Tell Me Baby What Was Wrong With You

4. Noted Rider

5. Take A Whiff On Me

6. Ox Driving Moan

7. John Henry

8. Pick A Bale Of Cotton

9. Go Down, Old Hannah

10. Ain't Going Down To The Well No More

11. Shout On (Honey I'm All Out And Down)

12. It Was Soon One Morning

13. Whoa Back Buck

14. Birmingham Jail (Down In The Valley)

15. Take This Hammer

16. It Was Early One Mornin' (Jail House Blues)

17. Goin' Back To Mary (If I Had You Governor / Governor Pat Neff)

18. Come And Sit Down Beside Me

19. Ha, Ha This A Way

20. You Can't Lose A Me, Charlie

21. Rooster Crows At Midnight (Christmas Day)

22. Skip To My Lou

23. Parting Song (When You Smile-O)

24. Good Morning Blues (WNYC Jazz Festival)

25. Ain't Gonna Let You Worry My Life No More (WNYC Jazz Festival)

26. Pretty Papa (WNYC Jazz Festival)

27. Old Ship Of Zion

28. I Will Be So Glad When I Get Home


Track List: Leadbelly ARC & Library Of Congress Recordings Vol. 4 (1935-1938)

1. Send Down Your Hand (151-B)

2. Death Letter Blues (152-A)

3. Death Letter Blues (Fragments) (152-B)

4. Dick Licker's Holler (154-A)

5. Whoa Back Buck (Whoa Goddam) (2 Parts) (154-B)

6. Billy In The Low Ground (155-A)

7. The Grey Goose (155-B)

8. I'm All Out And Down (156-B)

9. Frankie And Albert (157-A)

10. I Walked Her And Talked Her (157-B-1)

11. Gwine Dig A Hole (993-A-1)

12. Polly-Polly-Wee (993-A-2)

13. Jawbone Walk (993-A-3)

14. Last Night In The Evening (994-A)

15. Somethin', Somethin' Keeps-A-Worrin' Me (994-B)

16. All Out And Down (995-B-3)

17. Hello Central (996-A-1)

18. Raccoon Up The 'Simmon Tree (996-A-2)

19. Julie Ann Johnson (998-A-2)

20. He's Just The Same Today (2020-A)

21. Rock Of Ages (2023-A)

22. Leaving On The Morning Train (2501-B)


Track List: Leadbelly ARC & Library Of Congress Recordings Vol. 3 (1935)

1. Governor O.K. Allen (46-A)

2. Ha-Ha This-A-Way (49-A)

3. Alabama Bound (49-B)

4. In Dem Long Hot Summer Days (50-A)

5. I'm All Out And Down (144-A)

6. De Kalb Blues (144-B)

7. Ha-Ha This-A-Way (145-A)

8. Dear Old Daddy (Interpreting Jimmy Rogers) (In 4 Parts) (145-B-1/-2/-3/-4)

9. I'm Gonna Hold It In Her While She's Young And Tender (146-A)

10. What's You Goin' Do With Your Long Tall Daddy? (146-B)

11. Dick Licker's Holler (147-A)

12. Billy In The Lowlands / Here Rattler Here (147-B)

13. Frankie And Albert (148-A)

14. Frankie And Albert (148-B)

15. Send Down Your Hand (149-A)

16. Shorty George (149-B)

17. Pick A Bale O' Cotton (150-B-1)

18. Elnora (150-B-2)


Track List: Leadbelly ARC & Library Of Congress Recordings Vol. 1 (1934-1935)

1. Irene (124-A-2)

2. Irene (124-B-1)

3. Julie Ann Johnson (126-A-1)

4. You Cain' Loose-A-Me Cholly (126-A-2)

5. Take A Whiff On Me (126-A-3)

6. Mr Tom Hughes' Town (236-B-3)

7. Julie Ann Johnson (239-A-3)

8. Julie Ann Johnson (240-A-4)

9. Julie Ann Johnson (242-B-3)

10. Boll Weevil (273-A-1)

11. Julie Ann Johnson (250-B-2)

12. Dance Calls (252-A-1)

13. Salty Dog (45-B)

14. Thirty Days In The Workhouse (53-B)

15. Ella Speed (54-A)

16. C.C. Rider

17. You Can't Lose Me, Charlie

18. New Black Snake Moan

19. Alberta

20. Baby, Don't You Love Me No More?

21. Death Letter Blues - Part 1 (Take 1)

22. Death Letter Blues - Part 2 (Take 1)

23. Kansas City Papa (Take 1)

24. Red River Blues

25. My Friend Blind Lemon

26. Mr Tom Hughes' Town

27. Matchbox Blues

28. Bull Cow


Track List: Leadbelly Vol. 5 1939-1947

1. Sweet Mary Blues

2. Grasshoppers In My Pillow

3. Irene, Goodnight

4. John Henry (Recorded In San Francisco, California, 2/15/1945)

5. Boll Weevil (Recorded In San Francisco, California, 2/15/1945)

6. When A Man's A Long Way From Home (Recorded In San Francisco, California, 2/15/1945)

7. Good Morning Blues (Recorded In San Francisco, California, 2/15/1945)

8. By And By When The Morning Comes

9. Medley: Everytime I Feel The Spirit/Swing Low Sweet Chariot/They H

10. Swing Low Sweet Chariot

11. Rock Island Line 8 (Recorded In San Francisco, California, 2/15/1945)

12. Julie Ann Johnson

13. Haul Away Joe (Recorded In San Francisco, California, 2/15/1945)

14. Christmas Is Coming

15. We're In The Same Boat Brother

16. Diggin' My Potatoes (Recorded New York City, 6/1946)

17. Defense Blues

18. Easy Rider (Recorded New York City, 6/1946)

19. Pigmeat (Recorded New York City, 6/1946)

20. John Henry (Recorded New York City, 6/1946)

21. Alabama Bound (Recorded New York City, 6/1946)

22. Ham And Eggs

23. Yellow Gal (Recorded New York City, 6/1946)

24. Stew Ball

25. Gray Goose

26. Midnight Special (Recorded New York City, 10/1946)

27. Green Corn

28. Fiddler's Dream


Track List: Leadbelly Vol. 2 1940-1943

1. Easy Rider

2. New York City

3. Worried Blues

4. Don't You Love Your Daddy No More?

5. You Can't Lose-A Me Cholly

6. Grey Goose

7. Stew Ball

8. Take This Hammer

9. Can't You Line 'Em

10. Ham An' Eggs

11. Ha Ha Thisaway

12. Little Sally Walker

13. Redbird

14. Christmas Song

15. Skip To My Lou

16. You Can't Lose Me Cholly

17. Take This Hammer

18. Haul Away, Joe

19. Rock Island Line

20. Ol' Riley

21. Corn Bread Dough

22. Old Man

23. On A Monday

24. John Henry

25. How Long

26. (Good Night) Irene (Take 1)

27. (Good Night) Irene

28. Ain't You Glad

29. Good Morning Blues


Track List: Leadbelly Vol. 1 1939-1940

1. Daddy I'm Coming Back To You (Take 3)

2. Shorty George (Take 2)

3. Fannin Street (1939)

4. Frankie And Albert (First Half)

5. Frankie And Albert - Completion

6. De Kalb Blues (1939)

7. Looky Looky Yonder / Black Betty / Yellow Woman's Door Bells (On A Monday)

8. The Bourgeois Blues (1939)

9. Poor Howard / Green Corn

10. The Boll Weevil (1939)

11. The Gallis Pole (1939)

12. Ain't Goin' Down To The Well No Mo' / Go Down Old Hannah

13. Pick A Bale Of Cotton (1940)

14. Whoa Back, Buck (1940)

15. Midnight Special (1940)

16. Alabama Bound (1940)

17. Rock Island Line (1940)

18. Good Morning Blues (1940)

19. Leaving Blues (1940)

20. T.B. Blues (1940)

21. Red Cross Store Blues

22. Sail On, Little Girl, Sail On (1940)

23. Roberta

24. Alberta

25. I'm On My Last Go-Round


Track List: Leadbelly Vol. 3 1939-1947

1. Cow Cow Yicky Yea / Out On The Western Plains

2. Noted Rider / Big Fat Woman / Borrow Love And Go

3. John Hardy

4. Meeting At The Building / Talking Preaching / We Shall Walk Through The Valley

5. Fiddler's Dream / Yallow Gal / Green Corn

6. Bring Me Lil Water Silvy / Julia Ann Johnson / Line 'Em / Whoa Back Buck

7. Roberta

8. Bill Brady

9. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

10. Yellow Gal

11. When The Boys Were Out On The Western Plains

12. Pretty Flowers In Your Backyard

13. In New Orleans

14. John Hardy

15. I've A Pretty Flowers

16. Don't Lie Buddy

17. How Do You Know / Don't Mind The Weather

18. (What Are) Little Boys (Made Of) / Let Me Hold Your Hand (All For You) / Polly W

19. Skip To My Lou / Christmas Day (It's Almost Day)

20. Little Sally Walker / Ha Ha Thisaway / Red Bird

21. Outskirts Of Town

22. Red River / Black Girl (In The Pines) / Don't Miss Your Water Blues

23. Blind Lemon (Memorial Record)

24. Leadbelly's Dance

25. Mother's Blues (Little Children Blues)

26. Mo' Yet / (Little Boy) How Old Are You / There's A Limb On The Tree (Green Grass


Track List: Take This Hammer

1. Pick A Bale Of Cotton

2. Alabama Bound

3. Yellow Gal

4. Midnight Special

5. Rock Island Line

6. Whoa Back, Buck

7. Good Morning Blues

9. TB Blues

10. Red Cross Store Blues

11. Sail On Little Girl, Sail On

12. Roberta

13. Alberta

14. I'm On My Last Go Round

15. Grey Goose

18. Take This Hammer

19. Can't You Line 'em

21. Ham An' Eggs

22. Easy Rider

23. New York City

24. Worried Blues

25. Don't You Love Your Daddy No More

26. You Can't Lose-A-Me Cholly


Track List: Absolutely The Best Volume 2 - In Concert

1. Goodnight Irene (Live)

2. Ho-Day / Ain't Going Down To The Well No More (Live)

3. Rock Island Line (Live)

4. Go Down Old Hannah (Live)

5. Shine On Me (Live)

6. What Can I Do To Change Your Mind (Live)

7. Skip To My Lou (Live)

8. Mary And Martha (Live)

9. C'est Bon, Les Oeufs (Scrambled Egg Song) (Live)

10. Whoa Back Buck (Live)

11. John Henry (Live)

12. Backwater Blues (Live)

13. Ella Lousie (Live)

14. Don't Want No More Of Army Life (Live)

15. Relax Your Mind (Live)

16. Goodnight Irene (Live)

17. Old Ship Of Zion (Live)

18. I Will Be So Glad When I Get Home (Live)


Track List: Lead Belly Private Party Minneapolis Minnesota '48

1. Nobody In The World Is Better Than Us (Live)

2. Story (Live)

3. Jim Crow (Live)

4. The Gallis Pole (Live 1948)

5. Samuel Hall (Live)

6. Jean Harlow (Live)

7. I Ain't Goin' Down To The Well No More (Live 1948)

8. Mississippi River (Live)

9. Fannin Street (Live)

10. Dicky (Live)

11. Old Black Cow (Live)

12. Pig Latin Song (Live)

13. Hawaiian Song (Live)

14. John Henry (Live)

15. Goodnight, Irene (Live 1948)

16. The Grey Goose (Live)

17. Ain't It A Shame (Live)

18. Stewball (Live)

19. Bourgeois Blues (Live)

20. Governer Pat Neff (Live)

21. Governer O.K. Allen (Live)

22. A Lesson In History (Live)

23. Lake Superior (Live)

24. Mississippi River (No. 2) (Live)

25. Down In Louisiana (Live)

26. Goodnight Irene (Sung With Little Girl) (Live)


Track List: Absolutely The Best

1. In New Orleans (House Of The Rising Sun)

2. The Bourgeois Blues

3. Goodnight, Irene

4. Looky, Looky Yonder / Black Betty / Yellow Women's Doorbells

5. Borrow Love And Go

6. De Kalb Blues

7. John Hardy

8. How Long

9. Roberta

10. Pretty Flower In Your Backyard

11. The Gallis Pole

12. Where Did You Sleep Last Night

13. Midnight Special

14. John Hardy (Version 2)

15. When I Was A Cowboy


Track List: Leadbelly Vol. 5 (1938-1942)

1. Scottsboro Boys (1938)

2. Noted Rider Blues (1938)

3. John Henry (1938)

4. John Henry (1938)

5. Eva (1938)

6. Last Night In The Evening (1940)

7. Meeting At The Building 1940)

8. When That Train Comes Along (1940)

9. The Blood Done Sign My Name (1940)

10. Witness For My Lord (1940)

11. Soldier In The Army Of My Lord (1940)

12. Outshine The Sun (1940)

13. Way Over In The Promised Land (1940)

14. Must I Be Carried To The Sky On Flowered Beds Of Ease? (1940)

15. Bottle Up And Go (1940)

16. Don't You Love Me No More? (1940)

17. The Gallows Song (1940)

18. Ham And Eggs (1940)

19. Bottle Up And Go (Fragment) (1940)

20. How Long (1942) (Feat. Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry)

21. T.B. Blues (1942)


Track List: The Best Of Leadbelly

1. The Bourgeois Blues

3. Poor Howard/Green Corn

5. Noted Rider

6. Big Fat Woman

8. Bring Me Li'l Water Silvy

9. Julie Ann Johnson

10. Line 'Em

12. John Hardy

13. In New Orleans

14. Goodnight Irene

15. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

16. How Long

17. Yellow Gal

18. On A Monday

19. Blue Tail Fly

20. The Boll Weevil


Track List: Shout On: Lead Belly Legacy Vol. 3

1. Shout On

2. Little Children's Blues

3. Governor Pat Neff

4. Ain't Going Down To The Well No More

5. Go Down Old Hannah

6. Come And Sit Down Beside Me

7. How Long, How Long

8. Old Man

9. John Henry

10. Jean Harlow

11. Birmingham Jail

12. Don't Sleep Too Long

13. It Was Early One Morning

14. Uncle Sam Says

15. If You Want To Do Your Part

16. National Defense Blues

17. Whoa Back Buck

18. Ham And Eggs

19. Midnight Special

20. Grey Goose

21. Yellow Gal

22. Green Corn

23. The Parting Song

24. Rooster Crows At Midnight

25. Skip To My Lou

26. More Yet - Little Boy How Old Are You - Green Grass Growing All Around

27. What Are Little Boys Made Of - Polly Wee

28. Ha Ha This A-Way

29. You Can't Lose Me, Cholly

30. It Was Soon One Morning

31. Take This Hammer

32. Pick A Bale Of Cotton


Track List: Bourgeois Blues

1. Fannin Street

2. The Bourgeois Blues

3. Easy Rider

4. Alabama Bound

5. Don't You Love Your Daddy No More?

6. Gallis Pole

7. Leavin' Blues

8. Midnight Special

9. T.B. Blues

10. Linin' Track

11. Julie Ann Johnson

12. John Henry

13. Jim Crow Blues

14. Jim Crow #2

15. Good Morning Blues #2

16. Abraham Lincoln

17. Army Life

18. Hitler Song

19. Careless Love

20. Haul Away Joe

21. Don't Mind The Weather

22. Skip To My Lou

23. Red Bird

24. Out On The Western Plains

25. Cowboy Song

26. You Can't Mistreat Me

27. Diggin' My Potatoes

28. John Hardy


Track List: Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol. 1

1. Irene

2. Pick A Bale Of Cotton

3. Good Morning Blues

4. Grey Goose

5. In The Pines

6. Take This Hammer

7. On A Monday

8. Cotton Fields

9. Bring A Little Water Sylvie

10. Moanin'

11. Laura

12. Duncan And Brady

13. Rock Island Line

14. Big Fat Woman

15. New Orleans (The Rising Sun Blues)

16. Chicken Crowing For Midnight

17. You Can't Lose Me Cholly

18. Sally Walker

19. Ha Ha This A Way

20. Yellow Gal

21. Green Corn

22. Let It Shine On Me

23. Meeting At The Building

24. In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down

25. Pigmeat

26. Blind Lemon

27. Bottle Up And Go

28. Sukey Jump

29. Old Riley

30. 4, 5, And 9

31. No Good Rider

32. Shorty George

33. Duncan And Brady (Acapella)

34. Leaving Blues


Track List: Bring Me A Little Water: Leadbelly Sings The Blues

1. Take This Hammer

3. Goodnight Irene

4. Shorty George

5. Pick A Bale Of Cotton

6. Rock Island Line

7. Yellow Gal

8. Laura

9. Meeting At The Building

11. Good Morning Blues

12. Black Girl

14. Grey Goose

15. Borrow Love And Go

17. On A Monday

18. Old Riley

20. Pigmeat


Track List: Bourgeois Blues: Golden Classics Part One

1. The Bourgeois Blues

3. Poor Howard/Green Corn

4. The Gallis Pole

6. Noted Rider

7. Big Fat Woman

9. Bring Me Li'l Water Silvy

10. Julie Ann Johnson

11. Line 'em

13. John Hardy


Track List: The Library Of Congress Recordings, Vol.4: The Titanic

1. Blind Lemon Blues

2. Mister Tom Hughes' Town

3. Shreveport Jail

4. Don't You Love Me No More

5. Henry Ford Blues

6. Julie Ann Johnson

7. Angola Blues (So Doggone Soon)

8. Dallas & Fort Worth Blues

9. Mary Don't You Weep

10. Easy Mr. Tom

11. I Ain't Bothered A Bit

12. The Boll Weevil

13. The Titanic

14. Red Cross Sto'

15. Fo' Day Worry Blues

16. Hesitation Blues

17. Take Me Back

18. Tight Like That

19. Sail On Little Girl


Track List: Lead Belly's Last Sessions

Disc 1

1. Yes, I Was Standing In The Bottom

2. Yes, I'm Going Down To Louisiana

3. I Ain't Going Down To The Well No More

4. Dick Ligger's Holler

5. Miss Liza Jane

6. Dog Latin Song

7. Leaving Blues

8. Go Down, Old Hannah

9. Blue Tail Fly

10. Nobody In This World Is Better Than Us

11. We*Re In The Same Boat, Brother

12. Looky, Looky Yonder

13. Jolly O' The Ransom

14. Old Ship Of Zion

15. Bring Me A Little Water, Silvy

16. Mistreatin' Mama

17. Black Betty

18. Ain't Going Down To The Well No More

19. I'm Going Back Down In Louisiana

20. I Don't Know You, What Have I Done

21. Rock Island Line

22. Old Man, Will Your Dog Catch A Rabbit

23. Shorty George

24. Stewball

25. Bottle Up & Go

26. You Know I Got To Do It

27. Ain't It A Shame To Go Fishin' On A Sunday

28. I Ain't Gonna Drink Anymore

29. Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues

30. My Lindy Lou

31. I*M Thinking Of A Friend

32. He Never Said A Mumbling Word

33. I Don't Want No More Of Army Life

34. In The World

35. I Want To Go Home

Disc 2

1. New Iberia

2. Dance With Tears In My Eyes

3. John Henry

4. Salty Dog

5. National Defense Blues

6. Easy, Mr.Tom

7. Relax Your Mind

8. Bottle Up & Go

9. Polly Wolly Wee

10. Pig Latin Song (Version 2)

11. Hawaiian Song

12. Drinkin' Lum Y A Alla

13. The Grey Goose

14. Silver City Bound

15. The Titanic

16. Death Letter Blues

17. Mary Don't You Weep

18. He Never Said A Mumbling Word

Disc 3

1. Midnight Special

2. The Boll Weevil

3. Careless Love

4. Easy Rider

5. Cry For Me

6. Ain't Going To Drink No More (De Kalb Blues)

7. Birmingham Jail

8. Old Riley

9. Julie Ann Johnson

10. It's Tight Like That

11. 4, 5 & 9

12. Good Morning Babe, How Do You Do?

13. Jail House Blues

14. Well, You Know I Had To Do It

15. Irene

16. 25 Cent Dude

17. How Come You Do Me Like You Do?

18. Hello Central

19. Hesitation Blues

20. I'll Be Down On The Last Bread Wagon

Disc 4

1. Somebody's Diggin' My Potatoes

2. Springtime In The Rockies

3. Chinatown

4. Rock Island Line

5. Backwater Blues

6. Sweet Mary

7. Irene

8. Easy, Mr.Tom

9. In The Evening, When The Sun Goes Down

10. I'm Alone Because I Love You

11. House Of The Rising Sun

12. Mary Don't You Weep

13. Talk About Fannin Street

14. Fannin Street

15. Sugared The Beer

16. Didn't Old John Cross The Water

17. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

18. Bully Of The Town

19. Sweet Jenny Lee

20. Yellow Gal

21. He Was The Man

22. We're In The Same Boat Brother

23. Leaving Blues


Track List: Good Night Irene

1. Frankie & Albert Part One

2. Frankie & Albert Part Two

3. Ain't Goin' Down To The Well No Mo'-Goin' Down Old Hannah

4. Looky Looky Yonder, Black Belly-Yella Woman's Doorbell

5. De Kalb Blues

6. The Boll Weevil

7. Fannin Street

8. Poor Howard/Green Corn

9. Goodnight Irene

10. John Hardy


Track List: Goodnight Irene

2. Goodnight Irene

3. The Boll Weevil

4. Ain't Goin' Down To The Well No Mo'/Go Down Old Hannah

5. Frankie And Albert

6. Fannin Street

7. John Henry

8. Ain't You Glad

9. There's A Man Going Round Taking Names

10. The Bourgeois Blues

12. Poor Howard/Green Corn

13. The Gallis Pole

14. De Kalb Blues


Track List: Midnight Special

1. Irene

2. Irene

3. Matchbox Blues

4. Midnight Special

5. Governor O.K. Allen

6. Frankie And Albert

7. Ella Speed

8. Red River

9. Get Up In The Mornin'

10. You Don't Know My Mind

11. I'm Sorry Mama

12. Take A Whiff On Me

13. De Kalb Blues

14. Roberta

15. Careless Love


Track List: Gwine Dig A Hole To Put The Devil In

1. C.C.Rider

2. Governer Pat Neff

3. Becky Dean

4. Medicine Man

5. Alberta

6. Old Rattler

7. If It Wasn't For Dicky

8. Queen Mary

9. Turn Yo' Radio On

10. Mama, Did You Bring Me Any Silver?

11. The Bourgeois Blues

12. Po' Howard

13. Dance Calls (Incudes One Dollar Bill, Baby)

14. Gwine Dig A Hole To Put The Devil In

15. Green Corn


Track List: Leadbelly Sings Folk Songs With Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, And Sonny Terry

1. There's A Man Going Around Taking Names

2. Stewball

3. Keep Your Hands Off Her

4. Good-Good-Good (Talking, Preaching) We Shall Walk Through Thevalley

5. Lining Track

6. Outskirts Of Town

7. `

8. The Blood Done Sign My Name (Ain't You Gald)

9. On A Monday

10. Jean Harlow

11. Corn Bread Rough

12. National Defense Blues

13. Little Children's Blues

14. Fiddler's Dram

15. Meeting At The Building


Track List: The Legend Of Leadbelly

1. De Kalb Blues

2. Looky, Looky Yonder / Black Betty / Yellow Women's Doorbells

3. Bourgeois Blues

4. Poor Howard/Green Corn

5. The Gallis Pole

6. How Long

7. Goodnight Irene

8. Noted Rider

9. Big Fat Woman

10. Borrow Love & Go

11. John Hardy

12. Bring A Little Water Sylvie

13. Julie Ann Johnson

14. Line 'Em

15. Whoa Back Buck

16. Roberta

17. Black Gal

18. Yellow Gal

19. When The Boys Were On The Western

20. Pretty Flower In Your Backyard

21. New Orleans (The Rising Sun Blues)

22. John Hardy (Version 2)

23. Pretty Flower In Your Backyard (Version 2)


Track List: Packin' Trunk Blues: The Legendary Leadbelly

1. Black Snake Moan

4. C.C. Rider

5. You Can't Lose Me Charlie

6. Alberta

7. Baby Don't You Love Me No More

8. Match Box Blues

9. Bull Cow Blues

10. Kansas City Papa

11. Red River

14. Death Letter Blues, Pt. 1

15. Death Letter Blues, Pt. 2


Track List: Includes Legendary Performances Never Before Released

1. Roberta (Part I)

2. Roberta (Part II)

3. Packin' Trunk Blues

4. C.C. Rider

5. You Can't Lose Me, Charlie

6. Black Snake Moan

7. Alberta (1935)

8. Baby Don't You Love Me No More (1935)

9. Death Letter Blues (Part I)

10. Death Letter Blues (Part II)