Midnight Special (Blues) (Traditional)

registered as composers for the copyright are Huddie Ledbetter, Terry Saunders and Brownie McGhee, Raymond Edward Dorset, Bob Marley, Robbie Robertson and Howie Bernstein a.o. [GEMA]

sung in prisons all over the south it is probably of white origin [American Ballads and Folk Songs/John A Lomax and Alan Lomax]

Sources:

American Ballads and Folk Songs/John A Lomax and Alan Lomax. Macmillan, NYC, 1934
Dixon, Robert M.W.: Blues & Gospel Records 1890-1943/ by Robert M.W. Dixon, John Godrich and Howard Rye. Fourth Edition, Oxford, 1997
Early Blues Songbook
: a collection of early blues in words and music/Paul Oliver. Wise Publ., 1982

Sheet Music:

Folkways Music Publishers Inc.

Recordings:

1926 - Dave Cutrell - OKeh 45057 - "Pistol Pete's Midnight Special" - Dave "Pistol Pete" Cutrell

1927 - Sam Collins - Aug. 26, 1927 - Gennet 6307 - Sam Collins (v,g)

1929 - Otto Gray and the Oklahoma Cowboys - Vocalion 5337

1930 - Memphis Minnie - May 29, 1930 - Memphis TN - 62537-2 Victor unissued - Bessie & Minnie McCoy (Memphis Minnie (v), Kansas Joe (v,g)

1933 - Ernest Williams - CJuly 5, 1933 - Library of Congress recordings, Sugarland TX - Mexico (Ernest Williams) (v)

1934 - Jesse Bradley - Nov. 21, 1934 - Library of Congress recordings, Huntsville TX - Jesse Bradley (v)

1934 - Lead Belly - July 1, 1934? - Library of Congress recordings, Angola LA - Lead Belly (v,g)

1935 - Lead Belly - Feb. 13, 1935 - Library of Congress recordings, Wilton CT - Lead Belly (v,g)

1935 - State Street Boys - Jan. 10, 1935 - Chicago IL - C-892-1 OKeh 8964 - State Street Boys (Zeb Wright (vn), Black Bob (p), Big Bill Broonzy (v), Bill Settles, unknown (v))

1936 - Frank Jordan - April 17 1936 - Library of Congress recordings, Parchman MS - Frank Jordan (v), group of convicts

1937 - Gus Harper - March 21, 1937 - Library of Congress recordings, Parchman MS - Gus Harper (v), Jim Henry, Herman Jackson

1940 - Lead Belly - June 15, 1940 - NYC - 051298-1 Victor 27266 - Lead Belly (v,g), Golden Gate Quartet

1943 - Lead Belly - 1943? - NYC - Everest FS104 - Lead Belly, unknown...

1944 - Lead Belly - ? - Smithsonian Folkways 40045, on: Bourgeois Blues: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol.2 (released 1997) - Lead Belly (v,g)

1944-46 - Les Paul

1946 - Lead Belly - Oct. 1946? - NYC - D 674 Disc 6043 - Lead Belly (v,g), Woody Guthrie (v,g), Cisco Houston (v,g)

1948 - Lead Belly - June 15, 1948? - NYC - BC118, Elizabeth Barnacle-Tillman Cadle Collection - Lead Belly (v,g)

1948 - Lead Belly - Oct. 15, 1948 - NYC - Folkways 242, on: Lead Belly's Last Sessions 2 (released 1962) - Lead Belly (v,g)

1950 - Pete Seeger - Portland OR? - MDH, on: We sing (released 1950?) - Pete Seeger

1950s - Pete Seeger - Folkways 31022, on: Pete Seeger sings Leadbelly (released 1968) - Pete Seeger...

1950 - The Weavers - Nov. 3, 1950 - NYC - Decca unissued, Bear Family 15930, on: Goodnight Irene: The Weavers, 1949-1953 (released 2000) - The Weavers (Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger), Leroy Holmes Orchestra

1951 - The Weavers - Oct. 25, 1951 - NYC - Decca 28272. Decca 8893, on: The Best of the Weavers (released 1959) - The Weavers (Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger), Gordon Jenkins Orchestra

1952 - Big Bill Broonzy - London UK - Avid 736, on: Great Bluesmen in Britain (released 2002) - Big Bill Broonzy (v,g)

1952 - Big Bill Broonzy - Dec. 3, 1952 - Hove UK - Jasmine 3011, on: On Tour in Britain, 1952: Live' in England & Scotland (released 2002) - Big Bill Broonzy (v,g)

1954 - Ken Colyer's Skiffle Group - Ken Colyer, Alexis Korner...

1956 - Big Bill Broonzy, Pete Seeger - Chicago IL - Folkways 3864, on: Studs Terkel's Weekly Almanac On Folk Music Blues On WFMT With Big Bill Broonzy And Pete Seeger - Big Bill Broonzy (v,g), Pete Seeger (v,bj)

1956 - Big Bill Broonzy - May 1956 - Copenhagen DK - Storyville 143, on: An Evening With Big Bill Broonzy Vol. 2 - Big Bill Broonzy (v,g)

1956 - Big Bill Broonzy, Pete Seeger - Evanston IL - Verve/Folkways 9008, on: Pete Seeger And Big Bill Broonzy In Concert (released 1965) - Big Bill Broonzy (v,g), Pete Seeger (v,bj)

1956 - Burl Ives - Brunswick, on: Song for and about Men - "Prisoner's song"

1957 - Big Bill Broonzy - March 1957 - Nottingham UK - Spotlight 900, on: Trouble In Mind - Big Bill Broonzy (v,g)

1957 - Big Joe Turner - Atlantic 1122 - Joe Turner and His Blues Kings - "Midnight Special Train"

1957 - Odetta - on: At the Gate of Horn

1958 - Lonnie Donegan

1958 - Pete Seeger - Folkways 2321, on: American Favorite Ballads, Volume Two

1959 - Andy Griffith

1959 - Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper - "Big Midnight Special"

1960 - Paul Evans

1960 - Ira & Charlie Louvin

1960 - Pete Seeger, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon - Folkways 2450, Pete Seeger at the Village Gate with Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon

1962 - Harry Belafonte - Feb. 2, 1962 - NYC - RCA, on: The Midnight Special - Harry Belafonte (v), Bob Dylan (h)...

1963 - Odetta - Vanguard, on: One Grain Of Sand

1965 - Dillard Chandler - "Gastony Song"

1965 - Johnny Rivers

1966 - The Spencer Davis Group

1967 - Van Morrison

1968 - Cisco Houston - Folkways, on: Cisco Sings

1969 - The Beatles

1969 - Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fantasy, on: Willy And The Poor Boys

1971 - Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry - Storyville 220, on: Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry

1971 - Mungo Jerry

1971 - Little Richard

1973 - Bobby Darin

1973 - The Kingston Trio

1975 - Otis Rush

1977 - Arlo Guthrie, Brownie McGhee, Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry - on: A Tribute To Leadbelly

1978 - Abba

1981 - Merle Travis

1983 - Richard Weihs - Extraplatte, on: Blueslieder - "Losst's mi aus'm Käfich"

1987 - Paul McCartney

1992 - Buckwheat Zydeco

1992 - Spider John Koerner

1994 - Arlo Guthrie & Pete Seeger - Vienna VA - Aug. 8, 1993 - Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger...

1997 - The Quarrymen - on: Get Back - Together

2000 - Van Morrison, Lonnie Donegan & Chris Barber

2003 - John Fogerty - Feb. 7, 2003 - NYC - on: Lightning In A Bottle. A Salute To The Blues

2009 - Pete Seeger - April 25, 2009 - New Orleans LA - Munck Mix, on: Live at 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - Pete Seeger

2016 - Billy Bragg & Joe Henry - 2016 - Great Hall in Chicago Union Station, IL - Cooking Vinyl, on: Shine a Light, Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad

? - Bill Wyman's Bootleg Kings

 

 

[different "Midnight Special" song: Sodarisa Miller (1925)]

 
Sam Collins (1927)

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Let the Midnight Special shine her ever-livin' lights on me.

When you get up in the morning, when that ding dong ring.
You make it to the table, see the same old thing.
And up on the table, than the pots and the pans, Lordy.
And if you say a thing about it, have trouble with the man.

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Let the Midnight Special shine her ever-livin' lights on me.

Yonder comes a little Nora, how do you know?
I know her by the apron and the dress she ware.
Umberella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand,
Well, I'm callin' that sergeant to release her man.

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Let the Midnight Special shine her ever-livin' lights on me.

Ernest "Mexico" Williams
(1933)

When you get up in the morning, and hear the ding dong ring.
You go marching to the table, you find the same old thing.
Well it's ona one table, knife, fork and a pan.
And if you say anything about it, you'll have trouble with the man.

Let the Midnight Special shine its light on you.
Let the Midnight Special shine its ever-lovin' light on you.

Yonder comes Miss Rosie, how in the world do you know?
Well, I tell her about apron and the dress she wore.
Umberella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand,
Well, I heard her tell the captain, "I want to free my man."

Let the Midnight Special shine its light on you.
Let the Midnight Special shine its ever-lovin' lights on you.

Leadbelly
(Version 1934)

Yonder comes Miss Rosie. How in the world do you know?
Well, I know her by the apron and the dress she wore.
Umberella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand,
Well, I'm callin' that Captain, "Turn a-loose my man."

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Oh let the Midnight Special shine her ever-lovin' light on me.

When you gets up in the morning, when that big bell ring.
You go marching to the table, you meet the same old thing.
Knife and fork are on the table, ain't nothing in my pan.
And if you say a thing about it, have a trouble with the man.

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Oh let the Midnight Special shine her ever-lovin' light on me.

If you ever go to Houston, boy, you better walk right,
And you better not squabble and you better not fight.
Benson Crocker will arrest you, Jimmy Boone will take you down.
You can bet your bottom dollar that you're Sugarland bound.

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Oh let the Midnight Special shine her ever-lovin' light on me.

Well, jumping Little Judy, she was a mighty fine girl.
Well, Judy brought jumpin' to this whole round world.
Well, she brought it in the morning just a while before day.
Well, she brought me the news that my wife was dead.

That started me to grievin', whoopin', hollerin', and cryin'.
And I began to worry about my very long time.

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Oh let the Midnight Special shine her ever-lovin' light on me

Leadbelly (version 1940 (with The Golden Gate Quartet))

Yonder comes Miss Rosie. How in the world do you know?
Well, I know her by the apron and the dress she wore.
Umberella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand,
Well, I'm callin' that gov'nor, "Turn a-loose my man."

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Oh let the Midnight Special shine her ever-lovin' light on me.

Well you get up in the morning, when that ding dong ring,
You go a-marching to the table, see the same damn thing
Knife and fork are on the table, ain't nothing in my pan.
And if you say anything about it, having trouble with the man

Let the midnight special, shine her light on me
Let the midnight special, shine her ever-loving light on me

Well I went to the nation, and...
Thought about the girl I love ... in Mexico

Let the midnight special, shine her light on me
Let the midnight special, shine her ever-loving light on me

If you ever go to Houston, oh, you better walk right,
And you better not stagger and you better not fight
... Benson will arrest you, he will take you down
If the juris find you guilty, you'll be penitentiary bound

Well, jumping Little Judy, she was a mighty fine girl.
Well, Judy brought jumpin' to this whole round world.
Well, she brought it in the morning just a while before day.
Well, she brought me the news that my wife was dead.

That started me to grievin', whoopin', hollerin', and cryin'.
And I began to worry about my very long time.

Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me.
Oh let the Midnight Special shine her ever-lovin' light on me.

Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)
Well you wake up in the mornin', you hear the work bell ring
And they march you to the table to see the same old thing.
Ain't no food upon the table and no pork up in the pan.
But you better not complain boy you get in trouble with the man.

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a everlovin' light on me.

Yonder come miss Rosie, how in the world did you know?
By the way she wears her apron, and the clothes she wore.
Umbrella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand;
She come to see the gov'nor, she wants to free her man.

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me...

If you´re ever in Houston, well, you better do the right;
You better not gamble, there, you better not fight, at all
Or the sheriff will grab ya and the boys will bring you down.
The next thing you know, boy, Oh! You´re prison bound.

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me...

other lyrics...
"I don' believe that Rosie loves me", well tell me why
She ain't been to see me, since las' July
She brought me little coffee, she brought me little tea
Brought me damn near ever'thing but the jailhouse key

Lord, Thelma said she loved me, but I believe she told a lie
'Cause she hasn't been to me since July
She brought me little coffee, she brought me little tea
She brought me nearly everything but the jailhouse key

Well, the buscuits on the table, just as hard as any rock
If you try to eat them, break a convict's heart
My sister wrote a letter, my mother wrote a card
If you want to come to see us, you'll have to ride the rods

I'm goin' away to leave you, and my time ain't long
The ma is gonna call me, and I'm goin' home
Then I'll be done all my grievin', whoopin', hollerin' ad a-cryin'
Then I'll be done all my studyin' 'bout my great long time

Yonder comes doctor Adams (Melton), "How in the world do you know?"
Well he gave me a tablet, the day befo'
There ain't no (never was a) doctor, in all the lan' (travel through by lan')
Can cure the fever of (on) a convict man

Yonder comes Bud Russell, how in the world do you know?
Tell him by his big hat an' his 44
He walked into the jail-house with a gang o' chains in his hands
I heard him tell the captainm I'm the transfer man

Looky, look yonder, what in the world do I see?
Well, that brown-skin woman, comin' after me
She wore a mother hubbard, yes, like a mournin' gown
Trimmin' on her apron, Lawd God, how it do hang down

T.K. Erwin went to austin with a paper in his hands
To get the intermediate sentence passed on the convict man
He hand the paper to the gov'nor, and there it stood
I know she gonna sign it, 'cause she said she would

I'm gwine away to leave you, an' my time ain't long
The man is gonna call me and I'm goin' home
Then I'll be done all my grievi', whoopin', hollerin' and a-cryin'
About my great long time