Pay Me My Money Down

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A work song,[1] "Pay Me My Money Down" (Roud 21449) originated among the Negro stevedores working in the Georgia Sea Islands. It was collected by Lydia Parrish and published in her 1942 book, Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands:[2][3]

Pay me, Oh pay me,
Pay me my money down.
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my money down.

The melody is much older and used in other songs.[4]

Also known as "Pay Me" or "Pay Me, You Owe Me", it was performed by The Weavers during their influential 1955 Carnegie Hall concerts. It was further popularized by The Kingston Trio on tour starting in 1957. Capitalizing on the Weavers' folk success with the song, Robert Nemiroff and Burt D'Lugoff appropriated the melody unchanged for their pop song Cindy, Oh Cindy, originally recorded in 1956 by Vince Martin and The Tarriers, and quickly covered by Eddie Fisher.

Dan Zanes performed a children's version done calypso-style on his popular 2002 album Night Time.

"Pay Me My Money Down" was the first single and video released from Bruce Springsteen's 2006 big band folk album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. It was one of the most popular songs played on Springsteen's subsequent Seeger Sessions Band Tour, where it usually closed out the main set amidst much on-stage hijinks and repetitions. On June 23, 2006, near the end of the American leg of that tour, Springsteen performed the song on Late Night with Conan O'Brien with his E-Street Band, along with host Conan O'Brien, the show's band The Max Weinberg 7, and guests Thomas Haden Church and Jimmy Fallon. It was also the only Seeger song to date to return to regular play with the E-Street Band in the later stages of the 2013 Wrecking Ball Tour.


  1. ^ Daniel Hsieh (1996). The Evolution of Jueju Verse. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-8204-3331-8.
  2. ^ Parrish, Lydia; Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands, New York: Creative Age (1942).
  3. ^ Marc Dolan (4 June 2012). Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll. W. W. Norton. pp. 392–. ISBN 978-0-393-08421-4. Pay Me My Money Down parrish.
  4. ^ Lomax, Alan; Folk Songs and Ballads. "Lynchburg Town" (A banjo tune).

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