The Bourgeois Blues

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"The Bourgeois Blues" is a blues song by Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. It was written after Lead Belly went to Washington, D.C. at the request of Alan Lomax, to record a number of songs for the Library of Congress.[1] After they had finished, they decided to go out with their wives to celebrate, but were thrown out of numerous establishments for being an interracial party. The song rails against racism, classism, and discrimination in general, with such verses as "The home of the Brave / The land of the Free / I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie".

Lead Belly recorded the Bourgeois Blues numerous times, first on December 26, 1938, accompanied by himself on his 12-string guitar.[2]

The song has been recorded by many other artists, most notably Pete Seeger [3][4] and Ry Cooder.[5] It was reworked by Billy Bragg as "Bush War Blues", and by Mark E. Smith as "Bourgeois Town" on The Fall's Are You Are Missing Winner LP. It has also been sung by Odetta, most recently in her 2008 tour. From 2008-2011, Levon Helm regularly included the song in his Ramble concerts, sung by Brian Mitchell (musician).


Lyrics and themes[edit]

Recordings and adaptions[edit]

UK band Alabama 3 adapted the song as "Bourgeoisie Blues" (their spelling) on their album Exile on Coldharbour Lane.