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Cotton Mill Girls

[ Roud 11548 ; Ballad Index Leyd011 ; trad.]

Hedy West sang Cotton Mill Girls, a variant of the Cotton Mill Blues, in 1963 on her eponymous Vanguard album, Hedy West. According to the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Girls, she learned it “near her native Cartersville in the heart of the Southern Appalachians”.

The Woods sang Cotton Mill Girls on their 1969 Traditional Sound Recordings album Early Morning Rain.

Christine Kydd sang Cotton Mill Girls in 1993 on her Fellside CD Heading Home. She noted:

Often credited as traditional, but perhaps Hedy West wrote it. Certainly she tells of her father's recollections of how a traveller would come through Northern Georgia selling wares, sometimes staying the night and telling stories of the cotton mills further south, where work was to be had. The song states the reality of that work.

The Poozies sang Cotton Mill Girls in 1995 on their CD Dansoozies, stating:

We stole this one from Christine Kydd. It is somewhat appropriate to the Poozies, as Patsy [Seddon]'s English grandmother spent time working in a cotton mill in Lancashire.

Lucky Bags sang Cotton Mill Girls in 1996 on their Fellside CD Food for Thought; this track was also included in 2006 on Fellside's 30th Anniversary anthology, Landmarks. They noted:

Zena [Tubmen] learned this song from the singing of Christine Kydd, although the arrangement is somewhat different! It seemed to cry out for that calypso (Celtic) harp!

Lyrics

Christine Kydd sings Cotton Mill Girls

I worked in the cotton mill all my life,
I ain't got nothin' but a Barlow knife.
Hard time cotton mill girls,
Hard time everywhere.

Chorus (after each verse):
And it's hard times cotton mill girls,
Hard times cotton mill girls,
Hard times cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere.

Nineteen-fifteen I heard it said
Go to cotton country and get ahead
But it's hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere.

Gilmer to Barlow's a long long way
Down Ellijay to Cartecay.
It's hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere.

Us kids worked twelve hours a day
For fourteen cents of measly pay
Hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere.

When I die, don't bury me at all,
Just hang my body on the spinning room wall,
Pickle my bones in alcohol,
It's hard time cotton mill girls.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Cotton Mill Girls.