Some people say a man is made outta mud A poor man's made outta muscle and blood Muscle and blood and skin and bones A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong You load sixteen tons, what do 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 I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul" You load sixteen tons, what do 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 I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain Fightin' and trouble are my middle name I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion Cain´t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line You load sixteen tons, what do 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 If you see me comin', better step aside A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died One fist of iron, the other of steel If the right one don´t a-get you, then the left one will You load sixteen tons, what do 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
Written by: Merle Travis
Lyrics © DistroKid, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
13 facts about this song
"Sixteen Tons" was initially written and recorded by Merle Travis at the birth of his solo career in 1946.
Merle Travis was inspired to write this song due to his own experiences of growing up in a coal mining town in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
Despite originally being written and performed by Merle Travis, one of the most popular versions of "Sixteen Tons" was recorded by Frankie Laine in the 1950s.
The song offers a bleak perspective on the life of a coal miner, illustrating the hard and often dangerous work conditions that they endure.
Even though Merle Travis and Frankie Laine produced notable versions, "Sixteen Tons" has been covered by a variety of artists including Tennessee Ernie Ford, whose version became a number one hit on both the Billboard and Cash Box charts.
Awards- Tennessee Ernie Ford's Version
In 1998, Tennessee Ernie Ford's version of "Sixteen Tons" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
"Sixteen Tons" is considered an iconic representation of working-class America, and has made its way into popular culture, being featured in films, TV series, and commercials.
The song has survived through the decades, illustrating the enduring nature of folksongs.
More than just a popular hit, "Sixteen Tons" raised public awareness about the struggles and hardships faced by coal miners.
Influence on Other Artists
The song has influenced numerous singers and songwriters in different genres. Artists like B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and Tom Jones all credit the song as having an impact on their work.
Merle Travis's original recording of "Sixteen Tons" was released on Capitol Records.
Song Position Historically
"Sixteen Tons" is quoted in historical and academic works as a popular example of the music and struggles of the working class during the mid-20th century.
The song contains the famous lyric, "You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt." This captures the harsh realities faced by many working-class people of the era.
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