Lead Belly Smithsonian Folkways CollectionHuddie Ledbetter, better know to the world of music as Lead Belly, lived quite the life befitting a bluesman of his kind. And, although there are many viable bluesmen in the world, few can hold the claim that Lead Belly can hold. What made Lead Belly extra special was his ability to perform Folk music in addition to his Blues.

Lead Belly, with his usual 12-string Stella guitar, and a host of other instruments that he could play, created an expansive catalog of tracks. One of his best known songs, a cover in itself, “Midnight Special” has been heard and enjoyed by millions, but usually as a tune sung by others. Creedence Clearwater Revival helped to popularize it, a music series (Midnight Special) served it to many more. You may not have heard of Leadbelly, but you have heard his work and influence, even if it was only the traditional “Midnight Special”.

Lead Belly has been covered by many. Tom Waits (“Goodnight Irene”), Led Zeppelin (“Gallows Pole”), Beach Boys (“Cotton Fields”) were among some that highlighted his music, some of them covers that he did of older standards.

On February 24, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release a 5CD, 108 track Box entitled Lead Belly – The Smithsonian Folkways Collection. Of the 108 tracks being included, 16 of them are previously unreleased recordings. The Box will include a 140-page book with photos and notes that make the box a set to be had if you’re a massive Lead Belly fan.

Lead Belly Smithsonian Folkways Collection Box

01 Irene (Goodnight Irene)
02 The Bourgeois Blues
03 Fannin Street (Mister Tom Hughes Town)
04 The Midnight Special
05 John Henry
06 Black Girl (Where Did You Sleep Last Night)
07 Pick a Bale of Cotton
08 Take This Hammer
09 Cotton Fields
10 Old Riley
11 Rock Island Line
12 The Gallis Pole
13 Ha-Ha This a Way
14 Sukey Jump
15 Boll Weevil
16 Scottsboro Boys
17 Governor O.K. Allen
18 Governor Pat Neff
19 There’s a Man Going Around Taking Names
20 On a Monday
21 You Can’t Lose Me, Cholly
22 Keep Your Hands Off Her
23 We Shall Be Free (with Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston)


01 Alabama Bound
02 Almost Day
03 Fiddler’s Dram
04 Green Corn
05 Sally Walker
06 Bring Me a Little Water, Silvy
07 Julie Ann Johnson
08 Linin’ Track
09 Whoa, Back, Buck
10 Shorty George
11 Ham and Eggs
12 Moanin’
13 Out on the Western Plains
14 Noted Rider
15 Meeting at the Building
16 Good, Good, Good (Talking, Preaching) / We Shall Walk Through the Valley
17 Ain’t You Glad (The Blood Done Signed My Name)
18 I’m So Glad, I Done Got Over
19 The Hindenburg Disaster
20 Ella Speed
21 Haul Away
22 Old Man
23 Sweet Jenny Lee
24 Jean Harlow
25 Laura
26 Queen Mary


01 Good Morning Blues
02 Sail On, Little Girl
03 Easy Rider
04 Poor Howard
05 Duncan and Brady
06 How Long, How Long
07 T.B. Blues
08 Jim Crow Blues
09 Pigmeat
10 John Hardy
11 Outskirts of Town
12 4, 5, and 9
13 In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)
14 Red Cross Store Blues
15 Diggin’ My Potatoes
16 Blind Lemon
17 When a Man’s a Long Way from Home
18 Alberta Lead
19 Excerpt from “The Lonesome Train”
20 National Defense Blues
21 Hitler Song (Mr. Hitler)
22 Big Fat Woman
23 Been So Long (Bellevue Hospital Blues)


01 WNYC- Folk Songs of America [Grey Goose; Boll Weevil; Yellow Gal; Ha-Ha This a Way; Leaving Blues; Irene (outro)]
02 WNYC- Folk Songs of America [Almost Day; Blues in My Kitchen, Blues in My Dining Room; I Went Up on the Mountain; Good Morning Blues; Baby, Don’t You Love Me No More; T.B. Blues; Irene (outro)] Lead Belly and the Oleander Quartet
03 If It Wasn’t for Dicky
04 What’s You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire (with Anne Graham)
05 Rock Me (Hide Me in Thy Bosom) (with Anne Graham)
06 Packin’ Trunk Blues
07 Leaving Blues
08 How Come You Do Me Like You Do?
09 One Dime Blues
10 I’m Going to Buy You a Brand New Ford
11 Jail-house Blues
12 Shout On
13 Come and Sit Down Beside Me
14 Red River


01 Yes, I Was Standing in the Bottom
02 Ain’t Going Down to the Well No More (version 2)
03 Everytime I Go Out
04 Go Down, Old Hannah
05 Black Betty
06 Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out (with Bessie Smith)
07 Stewball
08 Ain’t It a Shame to Go Fishin’ on a Sunday
09 Relax Your Mind
10 Princess Elizabeth
11 Silver City Bound
12 The Titanic
13 House of the Rising Sun
14 It’s Tight Like That
15 Diggin’ My Potatoes
16 Springtime in the Rockies
17 Backwater Blues
18 Didn’t Old John Cross the Water
19 De Kalb Blues
20 They Hung Him on the Cross (version 1)
21 They Hung Him on the Cross (version 2)
22 In the World


By MARowe