RAGGED HUNGRY BLUES, PARTS 1 & 2 (AUNT MOLLY JACKSON) (1930-'31)

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During her New York stay [1931], Jackson visited Columbia's studios to make her only commercial recording. The circumstances behind this session are unknown, but it was probably instigated by songwriter/publisher Bob Miller, then supervising sessions for Columbia's 15000 series aimed at white rural audiences. Four masters were cut, including... both parts of her Ragged Hungry Blues. She later talked about the latter song for the Library of Congress, reprinted in Greenway's 'American Folksongs of Protest':
"On the seventh day of May, 19 and 30, during the strike, the miners built a soup kitchen out of slabs over in the meadow. When it was finished, I told all the wives to bring everything we had from our mining shacks and put it all together and collect vegetables from the farmers to make soup as long as the farmers had anything to give. By the middle of October we were desperate; we did not see how we were going to live. For two or three days we did not have anything to make soup out. On the 17th morning in October my sister's little girl waked me up early. She had 15 little ragged children and she was taking them around to the soup kitchen to try and get them a bowl of soup. She told me some of them children had not eat anything in two days. It was a cold rainy morning; the little children was all bare-footed, and the blood was running out of the tops of their little feet and dripping down between their little toes and running onto the ground. You could track them to the soup kitchen by the blood. After they had passed by I just set down to the table and begn to wonder what to try to do next. Then I began to sing out my blues to express my feeling. This song comes from the heart and not just from the point of a pen."
RONALD D. COHEN & DAVE SAMUELSON, Songs For Political Action (accompanying book), Bear Family Records, 1996, pp. 56-57

Lyrics as reprinted ibid., p. 61

I'm sad and weary, I've got the hungry, ragged blues.
Not one penny in the pocket to buy one thing I need to use.

I woke up this morning, with the worst blues I ever had in my life;
Not a bite to eat for breakfast, a poor coal miner's wife!

When my husband works in the coalmines, he loads a carload every trip;
Then he goes to the office at the evening to get denied of scrip.

Just because they took all he made that day to pay his mine expense,
A man that will work for just coal oil and carbide, he ain't got a stack of sense.

All the women in the coal camps are sitting with bowed down heads,
Ragged and bare-footed, and the children cryin' for bread.

No food, no clothes for our children, I'm sure this head don't lie;
If we can't get more for our labor we'll starve to death and die!

Don't go under the mountain, with a slate hangin' o'er your head;
And work for just coal oil and carbide, and your children cryin' for bread.

This mining town I live in is a sad and lonely place
Where pity and starvation is pictured on every face!

Some coal operators might tell you the hungry blues are not there.
They're the worst kind of blues this poor woman ever had.

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