They Called Him…Lead Belly!



This thread began with a friendly discussion of names of cities, towns and villes that we found interesting and in my case, a deep fondness for since my childhood.
Caddo Lake, as the map shows, is almost perfectly divided in half by the Louisiana-Texas border. The natural beauty of the lake and it’s mysterious qualities cast a spell on anyone that visits and I have enjoyed it as a decompression chamber for many years.
On the Louisiana side there is a small town, Mooringsport, La. From this town and later from a small town, Leigh, Texas(nearest town on above map is Karnack, Tx), came a giant in the musical history of the world, Huddie William Ledbetter, or ‘Lead Belly.’
Even if you haven’t heard of him, or only vaguely know of him, you have been shaped by his music through those he influenced and by the songs he wrote or refined.
Here’s a partial list of some of the musicians he has influenced: Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Long John Baldry, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Jerry Garcia, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, The Beach Boys, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and many, many more.
What were these songs? Here is a list.
Let’s take one song as an example, Black Betty.

Woah, Black Betty
bam-ba-lam
Woah, Black Betty
bam-ba-lam

Black Betty had a baby
bam-ba-lam
Black Betty had a baby
bam-ba-lam

Damn thing gone crazy
bam-ba-lam
Damn thing gone crazy
bam-ba-lam

That one song has been recorded countless times and has been used in many movies, tv shows and is still currently in use as an intro song at major sporting events.
In Lead Belly’s biography, you will find he was no saint, perhaps not even a very nice person. He was promiscuous, violent and a repeat felon(twice for murder), but was without a doubt a historical figure, as his music has shaped our lives and will most likely continue to do so for a very long time.
Other links on his bio follow, as there has been much mythology about the man, as he promoted much of it and there is some dispute on his actual birth, but in the wikepedia link, you will see the correct dates.
Wikepedia.
The Leadbelly Legend.
The Lead Belly Web.
Lead Belly Foundation.

Friend, did you bring me the silver,
Friend, did you bring me the gold,
What did you bring me my dear friend,
To keep me from the gallow’s pole.
Mother, did you bring me silver?
Mother, did you bring me gold?
What did you bring me mother,
Keep me from the gallows pole?
What did you – what did you –
Keep me from the gallows pole?

55 Responses

  1. Well done.

  2. You’re too kind.

  3. Uhh…is that a pun?
    /scratches whiskers

  4. What is really profound to me is, all that he did, and all of the places he went, and the songs he performed and recorded, only one made it to a Number One, that was done by Pete Seeger, the year after he died. Just like his friend Blind Lemon, who sold over a million records, yet died a pauper.
    Sad and strange, yet their influences could be felt forever.

  5. I didn’t realize gallows pole was his song.

  6. It was one of the old folk songs he refined, among many, and by adding his style to it, made it his.
    I mean, you can go to the hyperling on his list of songs, and click on the songs that are hyperlinked, and find excellent historical info on them.

  7. Nuke, I came across a profound story earlier, and if it’s okay with you, I would like to post a thread on it, in the morning. I need to process the info a little, and remove my emotions from those in the story itself, before I do, though.

  8. OK. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  9. Alrighty, then!
    Are you familiar with the historical significance of Midnight Special?
    Here’s a bit that you might find interesting, being from Mississippi.

    The version of the song known by this name, according to one theory, originated from the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi. The title motif was obtained from the train that could be seen at night from the fields. The train was nicknamed the Midnight Special because it was carrying the “female visitors” for Sunday visits to the inmates.

    I always find history fascinating.

  10. A good Lead Belly video.

  11. This is really cool.
    Tull playing Zeppelin, with a classical violinist.
    Kashmir.

  12. Yeah, I had heard the story about Parchman. Lotta ghosts in that part of the Delta.

  13. Dang, that was great. The violinist was special

  14. I’m sure there are, just like Angola in La.
    Using Lead Belly as one example as a musical influence, look at all the musicians he inspired, say Zeppelin. How many have Zeppelin inspired, and how many of them will inspire others, ad infinitum.
    Gallows Pole.

  15. Anybody still awake?

  16. Heh. Guess that would be a yes.

  17. Evenin swamps

  18. Hey, Nuke! Just got back from the in-laws place up in middle Georgia, 4 hour drive up, 4 hour drive back, with a 2 year old. Heh. We had to be very, very quiet driving past cell phone towers at night; the red lights were dinosaur eyes. And they might be looking for a snack.

  19. I liked that Tull video, too. I like stuff like that, combining different music styles and elements together, as I am listening to some ‘Death Metal’ on Headbangersball, as I type.
    I really enjoyed the Metallica event, they did with the San Francisco Symphony, several years ago. Can’t think of the name of the cd, have it in the stack some where.
    /hmmm…that would nice to listen to while driving around

  20. Kid’s gonna have nightmares. But, you can always give em back to their parents. Heh

  21. Hey Swampie.
    Yeah, can’t be disturbing those danged ol’chile eating monsters.
    Missed a good pun thread earlier, but you might not agree.
    /henh

  22. Yeah, I went back and read up; looks like you two had the situation well in hand.

  23. Ooooooooooo
    A quick one she is

  24. Henh…just noticed your post there.
    Yep, we handled it like a one-eyed snake…with a firm grip.

  25. So after a day with family, and sweet talking a young’un, you decided to come here for some filthy adult conversation?

  26. Nuke, I didn’t tell him about dinosaur eyes, he decided that on his own!

    Man, my mother-in-law loaded us down with some food. I’m not sure whether I want ham, BBQ Boston butt, Brunswick stew, chicken and dumplings, crowder peas and ham, crunchy sausage casserole, German chocolate cake….wait, I have German chocolate cake! Grandson would not go to bed (dinosaurs were in there) so he is bedded down on a comforter in front of the television with a flashlight in case of power failure or dinosaurs sneaking up. I’ll probably stay out there with him.

  27. Dang!
    Makes my tuna casserole, I made for dinner, sound like sawdust.
    I’ll take that BBQ Butt…would do me just fine.

  28. Yeah, that’s about the size of it (heh) N2L.

  29. my ham sammich is makin me cry

  30. Dang…a ham sammitch sounds good too. Think I will settle for a couple of SnowBalls with some chocomilk.

    Yeah, Swampie…sometimes you size things up correctly, but you don’t take into consideration the full dimension of the subject.

  31. Mother-in-law cooks for DAYS and won’t let anybody help (well, she’s an artist at what she does). Nothing out of a can, everything made fresh from scratch. Folks come in from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Father-in-law had us vote on whether we’d just as soon have grilled hot dogs and hamburgers (and BBQ butt) so that next year, when she’s 80, she wouldn’t work so hard. Well, of course we voted for it, just like we have been voting for it the last 10 years.

  32. In case you haven’t noticed, grandma’s kitchen ain’t a democratic state.
    /just sayin’…Go Grandma!

  33. Dimension is of course important; makes all the difference between a worm and a python.

  34. Nope; she’s gonna ignore father-in-law’s worries about her (who also is 79 and stronger and fitter than most men 50 years his junior).

  35. It’s an expression of love for her family and friends. Take that away from her while she is still able, you might as well rip her heart out.

    Yeah, or…….oh, I’ll just stop now.

    Midnight Special.

  36. Yep, an expression of love and a matter of pride.

  37. Two versions of Black Betty.
    Spiderbait.
    Ram Jam.

  38. Ooooh, Midnight special. Great!

  39. Slow down there, hoss. I gotta finish listenin’ to Midnight Special first.

  40. Ram Jam will probably always be my favorite version.

  41. The last time someone from out of state, called a Texan ‘Hoss’, they got a beat down.
    /think Pauly Shore…henh.

  42. I always liked their’s, but after playing them side by side, I’m leaning more to Spiderbait.
    Anyway, been in this chair far too long.
    Gotta go.
    See ya’ nuke. Glad y’all had a safe and fun trip, Swamps.

  43. Are you threatening a sweet and loving grandmother with physical violence? You brute.

  44. Nostalgia, mostly. That’s the way I remember it. Spiderbait sounds like the way my son might play it.

  45. Night, N2L. I think Nuke went face down on the keyboard some time back.

  46. Hey, you behave like Pauly, you share his fate.
    /just sayin’

  47. I don’t know, he might be face down on a ham sammitch.
    Night.

  48. Later N2L, sorry about ducking out. I wanted to finish this new thread.

  49. Alright, then, sparky.

  50. G’night, Nuke! I’m considering sneaking off to bed since the 2 year old seems to be sleeping very soundly and for some reason sleeping on the floor just doesn’t agree with me anymore; however, neither do ear-splitting squeals in the middle of the night if he wakes up, finds me gone, and figures the dinosaurs got me.

  51. Nite Swamps. See ya later

  52. Ah Sunday mornin’ awaking to a Leadbelly thread. What a treat. I hear his grave is still kept clean and tidy by fans all down these years, at east that’s what i was told at a recent blues concert I went to in an effort to get my lad to get an ear for the blues. In the 60’s early 70’s we grew up with a healthy respect for the bluesmen. Odd fact. Champion Jack Dupree toured the UK (as many did) but stayed and saw his life out living in Halifax. Must have been a woman to have got him to stay there.

  53. by heck should have watched the video before posting a comment! Opps£

  54. Uhh…vimto, that’s why I put the video first!
    (henh)
    You might want to go back to the pun thread, you have some catching up to do.

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