I'm Working on a Building
"I'm Working on a Building" is a song in both the African American spiritual and southern gospel traditions. The song has become a standard of the genres. It has been recorded many times, by artists such as The Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Elvis Presley, the Oak Ridge Boys, B. B. King, and John Fogerty.
One version of the song is credited to Lillian Bowles and Winifred O'Hoyle, though it existed as a traditional folk song for longer than that, likely a negro spiritual of indeterminate origin. An early version of the song was collected in a 1929 book, Old Songs Hymnal by Dorothy G. Bolton; the song is described has having a calypso feel to it, leading to speculation that it may have originated in Florida or the Caribbean.
The song became popularly associated with Southern gospel music when The Carter Family recorded in 1934 for Bluebird Records; this version is copyrighted to A. P. Carter. Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, added it to his regular set-list due to numerous requests from fans, and because he appreciated the construction metaphor in the song's lyrics. It is believed that the Carter version was itself based on a much older version which the folklorist John Wesley Work III later included in his 1940 collection American Negro Songs and Spirituals.
Blues legend B. B. King first learned the song as a young street musician, and it became a regular part of his repertoire during his early career. John Fogerty included the song in his first solo project, The Blue Ridge Rangers.
- Zwoniter, Mark; Hirschberg, Charles (2002). Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone: The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 137. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- "Track details: I'm Working on a Building". Smithonian Folkways. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- "I'm Working on a Building". Southern Gospel History. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- "B. B. King Sings Spirituals". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- "The Blue Ridge Rangers". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- Erbsen, Wayne (2008). Hymns of the Old Camp Ground. Native Ground Books and Music. p. 69. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- Rosenberg, Neil V.; Wolfe, Charles K. (2007). The Music of Bill Monroe. University of Illinois Press. p. 94. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- Nemerov, Bruce (2009). "Field Recordings of Southern Black Music". A Tennessee folklore sampler: selections from the Tennessee folklore society. Univ. of Tennessee Press. pp. 323–324. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
- McGee, David (2002). B.B. King: There is Always One More Time. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 24. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
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