“Sixteen Tons”

Author: Merle Travis
Earliest date: 1946 (recorded by author)
Keywords: work hardtimes poverty mining
Found in: US


"Now some folks say a man is made out of mud, But a poor man's made out of muscle and blood." The singer describes the hard life in the mines -- and the debts incurred. "St. Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go; I owe my soul to the company store."

Cross references



  1. Lomax-FSNA 154, "Sixteen Tons" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Green-Miner, p. 279-281, "Two by Travis": p. 295, "Sixteen Tons"(1 text, 1 tune)
  3. DT, TON16
  4. Roud #15162
  5. BI, LoF154