The songs of Leeds United --> Track 9

Sixteen Tons

A song with no content regarding football nor Leeds United, nevertheless ...

The legendaric Leeds United footballer John Charles is a name that lingers on many supporters lips. He played for Leeds in the 1950's, made 327 appearances on the pitch and scored 157 goals for the club, and he is still keeping the club record of 42 goals scored in the same season.

In 1957 he was tranferred to Juventus in Italy, for the world record transfer fee of GBP 65 000. With Juve John Charles won 3 Italian leauge championships, and one cupmedal. He was voted footballer of the year in 1958. John Charles returned to Leeds in 1962, but was sold to Rome (Italy) after only 11 league games - the transfer fee in October 1962 was GBP 70 000.

But this was supposed to be a story about music!

The same year as John Charles was voted footballer of the year in Italy - 1958 - John had another world record. He was the first ever footballer in the world to release a record! And, as on the pitch, also this was a big success. He made it to number 1 also on the Italian hit-lists!

When the CD "Marching on Together" was produced in 1997, John Charles was invited to re-record the song he had a no. 1 hit with almost 40 years earlier. The offer was happily accepted by John, and the then 65 year old spent an hour or so in the studio. With a great voice for a 65 year old man, it was talked footy, sung, talked music and even consumed a whiskey or three.

And the song was an old Tennessee Ernie Ford classic named "Sixteen Tons", written by Merle Travis in the 1940's. Graham Young played the piano and Kevin Smith was the producer.

Here is the song:

Sixteen Tons

John Charles
(Merle Travis)
Produced by Kevin Smith - 1997
Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood, skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, bless-a my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', in the drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by ol' mama lion
Cain't no high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
I've got one fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't get you, then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store