Merle Travis – Sixteen Tons

The hauntingly raw vocals paired with Travis's masterful guitar work created a timeless piece that resonated with audiences far and wide. The song found its home on the album "Folk Songs of the Hills," solidifying its place as a cornerstone of Travis's musical legacy

Unraveling the Story Behind Merle Travis – Sixteen Tons

If you’ve ever found yourself captivated by the rich tapestry of country music, then Merle Travis’s iconic «Sixteen Tons» is likely on your radar. This classic tune, recorded in 1947, has stood the test of time, resonating with audiences across generations. Let’s delve into the depths of this timeless piece to uncover its origins, meanings, and the remarkable journey it embarked upon.

The Genesis of «Sixteen Tons»

Merle Travis, a maestro of country music, penned and recorded «Sixteen Tons» in 1947. The song, characterized by its haunting lyrics and Travis’s distinctive guitar-picking style, became an instant sensation. Travis’s unique ability to blend storytelling with soulful melodies laid the foundation for this enduring classic.

Unveiling the Narrative

Merle Travis - Sixteen Tons
Cover LP Merle Travis Capitol 1947
«Sixteen Tons» paints a vivid picture of the struggles of coal miners in the mid-20th century. The lyrics chronicle the harsh realities of a miner’s life, highlighting the oppressive conditions and the heavy toll on their well-being. Travis’s compelling storytelling and gritty vocal delivery catapulted the song to the forefront of country music, making it a poignant anthem for the working class.

Behind the Scenes: Recording and Production

This masterpiece was recorded in 1946 and produced by Capitol Records. The hauntingly raw vocals paired with Travis’s masterful guitar work created a timeless piece that resonated with audiences far and wide. The song found its home on the album «Folk Songs of the Hills,» solidifying its place as a cornerstone of Travis’s musical legacy.




Merle Travis: A Country Music Icon

Merle Travis - Sixteen Tons
Merle Travis
Merle Travis, born in 1917, left an indelible mark on country music. Beyond «Sixteen Tons,» Travis boasts a string of number one hits, showcasing his versatility as a songwriter and performer. His contributions to the genre earned him a revered place in the Country Music Hall of Fame, a testament to the enduring impact of his musical legacy.
In conclusion, Merle Travis’s «Sixteen Tons» transcends time, weaving a narrative that resonates with the soul. Its raw authenticity and Travis’s masterful storytelling make it a cornerstone of country music history. As you explore the realms of this classic, let the echoes of coal miner struggles and the melodic prowess of Merle Travis transport you to a bygone era.
Remember, the journey doesn’t end here. Dive into the captivating world of «Sixteen Tons,» and let the essence of country music unfold before your very ears.

COUNTRYPEDIA




Merle Travis – Sixteen Tons lyrics

[Chorus]
You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
You get another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
(Spoken)
Yes, sir, there’s many a Kentucky coal miner that pretty nearly owes his soul to the company store. He gets so far in debt to the coal company he’s a-workin’ for that he goes on sometimes for years without bein’ paid one red cent in real, honest-to-goodness money. But he can always go to the company store and draw flickers or scrip. You know, that’s little brass coins that you can’t spend nowhere, only at the company store. So they add that against his account. And every day, he gets a little farther in debt. That sounds pretty bad, but even that’s got a brighter side to it
[Verse 1]
Now some people say a man’s made out of mud
But a poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood, skin and bones
A mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong
[Chorus]
You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
You get another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
[Verse 2]
Well, I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mines
Loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss a-hollered «Well, bless my soul!»
[Chorus]
You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
You get another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
[Verse 3]
I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
Fightin’ and trouble is my middle name
I was raised in the bottoms by a mama hound
I’m mean as a dog, but I’m gentle as a lamb
[Chorus]
I load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
You get another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
[Verse 4]
Well, if you see me comin’, you better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, and a lotta men died
I got a fist of iron, and a fist of steel
If the right one don’t get you, then the left one will
[Chorus]
You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
You get another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

GENIUS





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