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(Merle Travis)

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



Lyrics taken from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tennessee_ernie_ford/sixteen_tons.html

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  • k
    +4
    Karen SpenceNov 8, 2013 at 11:24 pm
    There was a time when companies didn't pay its employees cash, but instead a voucher to buy their goods and necessities that a store the company owned would offer. Most, if not all employees weren't given enough voucher credits to afford all they needed so they would ring up debt for the difference and would then have to pay it back by continuing to work. It kept the companies owning them for life because they could never really work it off, not to mention they had no money to buy things like homes, cars, etc. it was a terrible system. Now the banks do the same in many ways as others have mentioned here.
  • a
    +3
    Audrey OlienApr 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm
    i remember this song vividly and watching him on tv every week and listening to him sing his voice is still clear in my mind
  • u
    +2
    UnregisteredAug 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm
    It means that no matter how good or how hard you work, or how smart you are- it will never be enough to get out of that hole that's been dug for you. It means that the wealthy always win and the workers won't even get to die to escape their debt. I fear it's our future and our past. My dad used to sing it to me and i thought he was just being a sour puss. He was smarter than i gave him credit. I looked it up because i'm thinking of the next election.
  • c
    +1
    Coral Kay CreekApr 24, 2013 at 3:44 pm
    An early morning phone call from my brother Robert took us down memory lane, remembering this song that our Mother listened to. (Not sure if he felt like a coal miner today, or what exactly prompted this memory).
  • u
    +1
    UnregisteredAug 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm
    First time i listen to this song i was 6 old maybe ( 1957 ) but i am sad not to remeber the singer at that time . I think he calls turner . I am 62 old now and still listen to this song

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