“Cotton Needs Pickin'”


"Cotton needs pickin' so bad (x3), I'm gonna pick all over this world." The field worker describes how he contracted with the boss to raise the cotton, but now the boss is finding excuses not to pay him


Since the first verse of this song refers to slaves being freed, it would appear to date to the period immediately after the Civil War. The Union forces had freed the slaves -- but the freedmen had no job they could do except work the fields. The landowners built up an elaborate system (Black Codes, Jim Crow laws) for keeping the Blacks working -- perhaps even at a lower cost, since they no longer had to pay for food and lodging. - RBW


  1. Lomax-FSNA 281, "Cotton Needs Pickin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #16391
  3. BI, LoF281


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1918
Found in: US(SE)