Parallel Anthology Track 80

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Icon Public Domain.jpg Track 80: Mississippi John Hurt - Spike Driver Blues   Okeh 8692; Recorded in New York, 28.12.28

Anthology Track 80 label.jpg

Record label gives no authorship accreditation. Nor does

Eric Lugosch claims this song was written by John Hurt himself [1].

According to wikipedia, John Hurt died in 1966, meaning that if Lugosch is correct, this composition is in copyright until 1st January 2037.

However, according to the Roud Folksong index, this song is a version of Roud 4299. A Roud number search returns a number of versions which pre-date Hurt's recording across a wide geographical area (Tennessee, W Virginia, Virginia, Alabama, N Carolina), the earliest of which [2] dates from 1915-16 (collected in Auburn, Alabama) when Hurt would have been in his early 20s. This version begins with the same first line as Hurt's version. Although it is possible that Hurt composed the song and that it had spread to eastern Alabama by 1915-16, this seems unlikely.

It thus seems reasonable to ignore Lugosh's statement, and treat this composition as public domain.

Parallel anthology main index page

Alternative Versions

Take This Hammer by Lead Belly    recorded in 1940 or 1942 (according to wikipedia): Spotify
Take This Hammer by Odetta    recorded in 1957 (according to wikipedia): Spotify
Take This Hammer by Ken Colyer    recorded in 1955 (according to wikipedia): Spotify
Take it to the Captain by the Delmore Brothers    recorded in 1948 (according to wikipedia): YouTube
Take This Hammer by Lonnie Donegan    recorded in 1959 (according to wikipedia): Spotify
Nine Pound Hammer by Sanford Clark    recorded in 1956 (according to wikipedia): Spotify
Nine Pound Hammer by Flatt and Scruggs    recorded in 1962 (according to wikipedia): Spotify