Josh White "Chain Gang Boun'"

T'was on a Monday
Monday I was 'rested
An' on a Tuesday
Tuesday I was tried
An' on a Wednesday
Wednesday I was sentenced
An' on a Thursday, Lordy
On a Thursday chain gang boun'!

Hard luck done found me
Great God it fell all around me
I stayed in prison
Can't you people see?
Chain gang is my home
Jail house is my stoppin' place
Don't care about it, Lordy
'Cause it sho' is a low down place.

Work in de country,
Work 'round de jail house yard
Give me no money
Work me so damn hard
Lord, I got ten years
Ten years to bill my time
To worry chain gang
Chain gang off my mind!

Accompanied by the Carolinians, blues singer Josh White included this song on his Chain Gang album for Columbia Records in 1940. The song was recently collected in the South and was an example of the overtly political lyrics of some blues songs, although most dealt with more personal matters.

Illustration: Lawrence Gellert, Negro Songs of Protest (American Music League, 1936)

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