“Sixteen Tons”


"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


  • George Davis, "Sixteen Tons" (on GeorgeDavis01)
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford, "Sixteen Tons" (Capitol 3262, 1955)
  • B. B. King, "Sixteen Tons" (RPM 451, n.d.)
  • Merle Travis, "Sixteen Tons" (Capitol 48001, 1947; on 78 album "Folk Songs of the Hills", Capitol AD 50; rec. 1946)


  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


Author: Merle Travis
Earliest date: 1946 (recorded by author)
Found in: US