Alberta (blues)

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"Alberta" is the title of several traditional blues songs.

Lead Belly song[edit]

Lead Belly and his wife Martha Promise Ledbetter in February 1935

Lead Belly recorded four different version of "Alberta". One of these was recorded in New York on January 23, 1935 (for ARC Records, which did not issue it), and a similar version was recorded in New York on June 15, 1940 (included on Leadbelly: Complete Recorded Works, vol. 1, 1 April 1939 to 15 June 1940).[1] Another version, recorded in Wilton, Connecticut, on January 20, 1935, included the lyrics "Take me, Alberta, take me down in your rocking chair"[2] and is included on Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil In (Rounder Records, Library of Congress Recordings, vol. 2). Lead Belly's fourth recorded version survives on recording disc BC-122 of the Mary Elizabeth Barnicle–Tillman Cadle Collection at East Tennessee State University,[3] recorded near the date of June 15, 1948, with which several related discs are labeled.

Wheeler 1944 song[edit]

Mary Wheeler, in her Steamboatin' Days: Folk Songs of the River Packet Era (Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1944), records a song she collected from Gabriel "Uncle Gabe" Hester, with the lyrics:

Alberta, let yo' hair hang low,
Alberta, let yo' hair hand low,
I'll give you mo' gold than yo' apron will hold,
Ef you'll jes' let yo' hair hang low.
Alberta, what's on yo' mind?
Alberta, what's on yo' mind?
You keep me worried, you keep me bothered, all the time.
Alberta, what's on yo' mind?
Alberta, don't you treat me unkind,
Alberta, don't you treat me unkind,
'Cause I'm worried, 'cause I'm bothered, all the time.
Alberta, don't you treat me unkind.

Wheeler also reports Hester's reminiscences of the steamboat work songs he had sung as a roustabout in his younger days. However, Wheeler's account does not explicitly give any evidence for Roger McGuinn's statement that, "This is a song sung by the stevedores who worked on the Ohio River."[4]

The song became popular in the American folk music revival.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lyrics of January 23, 1935, version. Compare Gavan Tredoux's Leadbelly Discography.
  2. ^ John Lightfoot, "Early Texas Bluesmen," in Clayton and Specht (eds.), The Roots of Texas Music, Texas A&M University Press, p. 102.
  3. ^ "Archives of Appalachia". 2014-01-21. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  4. ^ "Humming A Diff'rent Tune: Bob Dylan, "Alberta (Let Your Hair Hang Low)"". 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2016-07-26.

External links[edit]