Guitar/song examples/Campfire Diploma/Cotton Fields

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Cotton Fields


Folksong (USA) – Alternative title: "The Cotton Song", "(In them old) Cottonfields back home", Text and melody: Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly) (*1888-✝ 1949), arranged by Mjchael  

Huddie Ledbetter (better known by his pseudonym "Lead Belly") was born in 1888 and grew up in northwest Louisiana near the Arkansas border. As a teenager, he worked in the cotton fields like his parents and later his wife. In the song, he processes the first-hand experiences of a cotton picker.

The song is part of the standard repertoire of blues, country, folk, jazz and rock singers. The countless performers include Johnny Cash, Udo Jürgens, The Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Elton John, Harry Belafonte, Trini Lopez, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and many more. Not to forget the numerous instrumentals.

Every artist has their own version of the song, but usually after two melodically similar verses there is a chorus and after that another verse (pattern A A B A), with each line followed by the chorus "In them old cotton fields back home". A verse can also be sung twice in a row. Otherwise they are repeated several times in a loose sequence. Each verse and each chorus can contain smaller or larger melodic variations. There are also many polyphonic arrangements.

The melody presented here is largely based on a pentatonic scale. In various interpretations, however, it can be expanded to include a few passing notes or blue notes. It is advisable to listen to different versions of the song and create your own version from the wealth of possibilities.


To do:
Create melody


Cotton Fields


[G]When I was a little pretty baby
My mama would [C]rock me in the [G]cradle
In them old cotton fields back [D7]home


But [G]when I became a little older
My daddy would [C]take me on his shoulder
In a-them old [D7]cotton fields back [G]home


Oh, when them [C]cotton bolls get rotten
You can't [G]pick very much cotton
In them old cotton fields back [D7]home


I was [G]home in Arkansas,
people [C]ask me what you come [G]here for,
In them old [D7]cotton fields back [G]home


It was [G]down in Louisiana
Just about a [C]mile from Texar-[G]kana
In them old cotton fields back [D7]home


You may [G]think it is very funny
But we [C]didn't make much [G]money
In them old [D7]cotton fields back [G]home


It may [G]sound a little funny,
but you [C]didn't make very much [G]money,
In them old [D7]cotton fields back [G]home