Go Down Old Hannah

 

Why don't you go down old Hannah, well, well, well,
Don't you rise no more, don't you rise no more
Why don't you go down old Hannah, Hannah,
Don't you rise no more.

If you rise in the morning, well, well, well,
Bring judgement sure, x2
If you rise in the morning, morning,
Bring judgement sure.

Well, I looked at old Hannah, well, well, well,
She was turning red, x2

Then I looked at my partner, partner 
He was almost dead

You should-a been on this old Brazos 
Back in nineteen and fo' x2

You could find a dead man 
Layin' across your row

Why don't you wake up old dead man,
Help me carry my row,... (repeat)

You should-a been on this old river,
Nineteen and ten,...

You could find them workin' the women 
And killin' the men

My mother called me
And I answered, Ma'am

She said ain't you tired of rolling 
Rolling for that old sun-down man?

Then my father he called me
And I answered Sir

He said if you're tired of rolling 
What do you stay here for

Then my sister she called me
And I answered hey

She said ain't you tired of rolling
Why don't you run away

Then my brother he called me 
And I answered huh

He said if you're tired of rolling
You know you got too long

I got a letter from the Governor 
What do you think he said

He said he'd give me a pardon 
If I didn't drop dead.

 

 

Hannah was the name workers on Texas prison farms gave the sun.  This song was widely popular on prison farms throughout the south- according to Bruce Jackson in his excellent book “Wake Up Dead Man” there are at least ten different recording of different versions of the songs in various archives.  Through recordings by Alan and John Lomax this song made its way into folk music performance by Leadbelly, Lightning Hopkins and Pete Seeger.