Worried Man Blues
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"Worried Man Blues" is a folk song in the roots music repertoire. Like many folks songs passed by oral tradition, the lyrics vary from version to version, but generally all contain the chorus "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long." The verses tell the story of a man imprisoned for unknown reasons "I went across the river, and I lay down to sleep/When I woke up, had shackles on my feet", who pines for his lost love, who is "on the train and gone."
Notable recordings and performances
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It was also recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935, Woody Guthrie in 1940, the Kingston Trio in 1959 (as "A Worried Man" with new verses), Ramblin' Jack Elliott in the 60s, Johnny Cash in 1969, Pete Seeger in 1970 (together with Johnny Cash), Devo in 1979, Van Morrison in 1998, Elliott Murphy in 2013, and numerous other artists.
Half Man Half Biscuit also recorded a version on their Editor's Recommendation EP.
References by other artists
In their 1995 song, "Rollerkoaster", indie band Railroad Jerk references "Worried Man Blues" in the refrain, as Marcellus Hall sings, "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song, and I'm not one of 'em!"
In Beck's 1996 song, "Hotwax", he sings "It takes a backwash man to sing a backwash song."
The band Old 97's in their 1997 song, "Big Brown Eyes" include the line "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song."
The Squirrel Nut Zippers' 2009 song, "It Happens All the Time," contains the line "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song."
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 18 - Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.
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