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Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

Lead Belly SFW40201

Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, the first career-spanning box set dedicated to the American music icon, is a 5 CD, 140-page, large-format book featuring 5 hours of music with 16 unreleased tracks. The limited-edition poster and t-shirt package has sold out.

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Lead Belly is “the hard name of a harder man,” said Woody Guthrie of his friend and fellow American music icon who was born Huddie Ledbetter (c. 1888–1949). From the swamplands of Louisiana, the prisons of Texas, and the streets of New York City, Lead Belly and his music became cornerstones of American folk music and touchstones of African American cultural legacy.

With his 12-string Stella guitar, he sang out a cornucopia of songs that included his classics “The Midnight Special,” “Irene,” “The Bourgeois Blues,” and many more, which in turn have been covered by musical notables such as the Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Van Morrison, Nirvana, Odetta, Little Richard, Pete Seeger, Frank Sinatra and Tom Waits. Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection brings us the story of the man as well as the musician. 5 Discs, 108 tracks (16 unreleased), 5 hours of music, historic photos, extensive notes, and 140-page book.

Limited-Edition Poster and T-Shirt
Designed by Fritz Klaetke (Visual Dialogue), GRAMMY-winning art director for Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, this unframed, 16” x 20” poster is individually numbered out of 300 and printed on high-quality paper with matte finish. The unisex t-shirt is printed on 100% cotton. Click here for a size chart.

This project was produced in coordination with the Lead Belly Estate, The John Reynolds Collection/Lead Belly Society, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Limited-Edition Poster and T-Shirt
Limited-Edition Poster and T-Shirt

Listen to a Sneak Preview Including the Previously Unreleased Song “Been So Long (Bellevue Hospital Blues)”

Introduction to Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
Archivist Jeff Place on Lead Belly’s Legacy
Unboxing Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

Year Released 2015
Record Label Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Source Archive Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Copyright 2015 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Genre(s) African American Music; American Folk; Blues
Country(s) United States
Culture Group(s) African American; Anglo-American
Instrument(s) Accordion; Bass; Guitar; Harmonica; Mandolin; Piano; Vocals
Language(s) English

Download Liner Notes

101 Irene (Goodnight Irene) Lead Belly 1:53
102 The Bourgeois Blues Lead Belly 2:18
103 Fannin Street (Mister Tom Hughes Town) Lead Belly 3:30
104 The Midnight Special Lead Belly 2:03
105 John Henry Lead Belly with Sonny Terry 3:10
106 Black Girl (Where Did You Sleep Last Night) Lead Belly 2:07
107 Pick a Bale of Cotton Lead Belly and The Oleander Quartet 1:30
108 Take This Hammer Lead Belly 2:15
109 Cotton Fields Lead Belly 2:06
110 Old Riley / Here, Rattler, Here Lead Belly 1:58
111 Rock Island Line Lead Belly 2:02
112 The Gallis Pole (The Maid Freed from the Gallows) Lead Belly 2:45
113 Ha-Ha This a Way Lead Belly 1:34
114 Sukey Jump Lead Belly 1:04
115 Boll Weevil Lead Belly 3:07
116 Scottsboro Boys Lead Belly 4:32
117 Governor O.K. Allen Lead Belly 2:37
118 Governor Pat Neff Lead Belly 3:40
119 There's a Man Going Around Taking Names Lead Belly 1:24
120 On a Monday (Almost Done) Lead Belly with Sonny Terry 1:47
121 You Can't Lose Me, Cholly Lead Belly 2:37
122 Keep Your Hands Off Her Lead Belly 2:51
123 We Shall Be Free Lead Belly with Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston 2:34
201 Alabama Bound Lead Belly with Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston 2:17
202 Almost Day (Christmas Is a-Coming) Lead Belly 1:05
203 Fiddler's Dram Lead Belly with Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston 2:28
204 Green Corn Lead Belly 1:15
205 Sally Walker Lead Belly 2:40
206 Bring Me a Little Water, Silvy Lead Belly 0:48
207 Julie Ann Johnson Lead Belly 0:41
208 Linin' Track Lead Belly 1:11
209 Whoa, Back, Buck Lead Belly 2:09
210 Shorty George Lead Belly 1:28
211 Ham and Eggs (Make It on the Side of the Road) Lead Belly 1:42
212 Moanin' Lead Belly 1:00
213 Out on the Western Plains Lead Belly 1:31
214 Noted Rider Lead Belly 2:50
215 Meeting at the Building (All Over this World) Lead Belly 0:59
216 Good, Good, Good (Talking, Preaching) / We Shall Walk Through the Valley Lead Belly 2:11
217 Ain't You Glad (The Blood Done Signed My Name) Lead Belly 2:19
218 I'm So Glad, I Done Got Over Lead Belly 1:21
219 The Hindenburg Disaster Lead Belly 3:22
220 Ella Speed Lead Belly 5:48
221 Haul Away Joe Lead Belly 2:48
222 Old Man Lead Belly 2:35
223 Sweet Jenny Lee Lead Belly 1:51
224 Jean Harlow Lead Belly 1:40
225 Laura Lead Belly 1:41
226 Queen Mary Lead Belly 4:46
301 Good Morning Blues Lead Belly with Sonny Terry 2:23
302 Sail On, Little Girl (You Can't Mistreat Me) Lead Belly 3:14
303 Easy Rider Lead Belly 2:51
304 Poor Howard Lead Belly 1:36
305 Duncan and Brady Lead Belly 4:06
306 How Long, How Long Lead Belly and Sonny Terry 2:13
307 T.B. Blues Lead Belly 3:43
308 Jim Crow Blues Lead Belly 3:30
309 Pigmeat Lead Belly 2:33
310 John Hardy Lead Belly 2:43
311 Outskirts of Town Lead Belly and Sonny Terry 2:40
312 4, 5, and 9 Lead Belly 2:20
313 In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down) Lead Belly 3:29
314 Red Cross Store Blues Lead Belly 3:09
315 Diggin' My Potatoes Lead Belly and Brownie McGee 2:34
316 Blind Lemon Lead Belly 1:39
317 When a Man's a Long Way from Home Lead Belly 2:57
318 Alberta Lead Belly 3:11
319 Excerpt from "The Lonesome Train" Lead Belly 3:11
320 National Defense Blues Lead Belly 3:13
321 Hitler Song (Mr. Hitler) Lead Belly 4:31
322 Big Fat Woman Lead Belly 1:10
323 Been So Long (Bellevue Hospital Blues) Lead Belly 2:44
401 WNYC- Folk Songs of America [Grey Goose; Boll Weevil; Yellow Gal; Ha-Ha This a Way; Leaving Blues; Irene (outro)] Lead Belly 14:42
402 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 14:45
403 If It Wasn't for Dicky Lead Belly 2:15
404 What's You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire Lead Belly with Anne Graham 2:12
405 Rock Me (Hide Me in Thy Bosom) Lead Belly with Anne Graham 2:19
406 Packin' Trunk Blues Lead Belly 2:35
407 Leaving Blues Lead Belly 2:58
408 How Come You Do Me Like You Do? Lead Belly 3:26
409 One Dime Blues Lead Belly 2:25
410 I'm Going to Buy You a Brand New Ford Lead Belly 1:40
411 Jail-house Blues (It Was Early One Morning) Lead Belly 1:13
412 Shout On (Honey, I'm All Out and Down) Lead Belly 2:09
413 Come and Sit Down Beside Me Lead Belly 1:02
414 Red River Lead Belly 2:14
501 Yes, I Was Standing in the Bottom / When It's Springtime in the Rockies Lead Belly 1:41
502 Ain't Going Down to the Well No More (version 2) Lead Belly 1:23
503 Everytime I Go Out Lead Belly 1:25
504 Go Down, Old Hannah Lead Belly 4:58
505 Black Betty Lead Belly 1:53
506 Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out Lead Belly with Bessie Smith 3:42
507 Stewball Lead Belly with Martha Ledbetter 2:34
508 Ain't It a Shame to Go Fishin' on a Sunday Lead Belly 1:22
509 Relax Your Mind Lead Belly 4:05
510 Princess Elizabeth Lead Belly 3:33
511 Silver City Bound Lead Belly 6:01
512 The Titanic Lead Belly 5:11
513 House of the Rising Sun Lead Belly and Martha Ledbetter 2:24
514 It's Tight Like That Lead Belly 3:09
515 Diggin' My Potatoes Lead Belly 3:57
516 Springtime in the Rockies Lead Belly 3:02
517 Backwater Blues Lead Belly 3:23
518 Didn't Old John Cross the Water Lead Belly 1:56
519 De Kalb Blues (Ain't Gonna Drink No More) Lead Belly 3:51
520 They Hung Him on the Cross (version 1) Lead Belly 2:26
521 They Hung Him on the Cross (version 2) Lead Belly 2:49
522 In the World Lead Belly 2:02
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