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Hungry Ragged Blues, song lyrics

Song: Hungry Ragged Blues
Lyrics: Aunt Molly Jackson(1)

Music: Aunt Molly Jackson
Year: 1930
Genre: A Cappella Folk
Country: USA


(Part I)

I'm sad and weary, I've got the hungry ragged blues;
I'm sad and weary, I've got the hungry ragged blues;
Not one penny in the pocket to buy one thing I need to use.

I woke up this morning with the worst blues I ever had in my life;
I woke up this morning with the worst blues I ever had in my life;
Not a bite to cook for breakfast, poor coal miner's wife.

When my husband works in the coal mines he loads a car most every trip;
When my husband works in the coal mines he loads a car most every trip;
Then he goes to the office at the evening and gets denied his scrip(2).
This song was originally posted on protestsonglyrics.net
Just because it took all he made that day to pay his mine expense;
Just because it took all he made that day to pay his mine expense;
A man that'll work for coalite(3) and carbide(4) ain't got a lick of sense.


(Part II)

All the women in this coal camp are sitting with bowed-down heads;
All the women in this coal camp are sitting with bowed-down heads;
Ragged and barefooted, and their children a-cryin' for bread.

This mining town I live in is a dead and lonely place;
All the women in this coal camp are sitting with bowed-down heads;
Where pity and starvation are pictured on every face.
This song was originally posted on protestsonglyrics.net
Oh, don't go under that mountain with the slate hanging over your head;
Don't go under that mountain with the slate hanging over your head;
And work for just coalite and carbide and our children a-crying for bread.

Oh, listen, friends and workers, please take a friend's advice;
Oh, listen, friends and workers, please take a friend's advice;
Dont' load no more, don't pull no more, till you get a living price.


Notes:

1 - Aunt Molly Jackson (1880-1960), in the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, University of Tennessee Press

2 - Please check out these references for a bit more on the script system and company stores from Tennessee 4 Me, Truck System wages. and The British Truck System in the Nineteenth Century, (20 pages), George W. Hilton, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Jun., 1957). Of course this system of extreme worker exploitation and debt bondage existed well into the early 20th century in some industries.

3 - Coalite information from Wikipedia. Some versions of this song use "Coal Oil" instead of "Coalite".

4 - Calcium carbide