Here is a simple song to play along with. Another of the Leadbelly songs that I love, it gets stuck in my head. There is a lot of history in this one (even if there are not a lot of chords). Leadbelly probably didn’t write it but it’s pretty clear that he had it during the time he spent in the Sugarland Penitentiary in Texas. Old Riley was a legendary prisoner who successfully escaped from prison and was said to be able to walk on the water (like Jesus) of the Brazos River! Rattler was the lead hounddog of the pack that would be released to hunt down the escapees. It’s imagery that certainly went back to the time of slavery. There is a bit more about the song on my chord sheet but for this and other stories about Leadbelly and his songs you should read the fine biography by Charles Wolf & Kip Lornell’s biography The Life & Legend of Leadbelly.
Scott Cashman, Director – Back Porch Revue