Hollow Leg

By David Lewis, Belmont View Music, Belmont, Maine hollowleg

I’m eatin to fill my hollow leg, hollow leg, hollow leg
I’m eatin to fill my hollow leg, and then I’m goin home

I’m gonna dig just one hole, one more hole, one more hole
I’m gonna dig just one hole, one more hole, one more hole

Gonna work until the sun comes up, sun comes up, sun comes up
Gonna work until the sun comes up, and then I’m goin home

Gonna drink until the beer’s all gone, beer’s all gone, beer’s all gone
Gonna drink until the beer’s all gone, and then I’m goin home
(but I ain’t drivin)

Then I’ll sing just one more song, one more song, one more song
Then I’ll sing just one more song, and then I’m goin home


The above audio recording was made on 1/26/2013 by Erik Jacobs from Plough & Stars Project Farm Blog and Photography, at the 2013 NOFA-NY Young Farmer’s Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY. Song leader is Steve “Shepsi” Eaton, teaching a song during the Sylvester Manor Worksongers’ workshop “Worksongs on Small Farms.” Steve used this song in the fields in 2012 at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.

Song author David Lewis is a hard-working musician and boat electrician in coastal Maine. A homesteader in the 70s and 80s David doesn’t farm so much these days, but he does lease out his back field to local organic farmers Mike and Christa Bahner of Bahner Farm. Dave plays lots of Bluegrass and Jazz and from time to time writes songs. One day with wild eyes he turned to me and said “Bennett, I’ve written a worksong!” We worked it into the repertoire of our band “Free Seedlings” and it worked its way into the fields at Sylvester Manor through Steve, who took a strong liking to it. It’s a great song to add verses to and see how long you can keep it going.

This song is beloved by beginning worksongers for several reasons:

1) Not too many words
2) Simple melody
3) but the format isn’t too square
4) The sentiment “I’m going home” is timeless and universal
5) The song can handle a pause at the end of each verse as you think of a new one. Very forgiving.

It’s a great song to use for practicing improvisation because it doesn’t even require a rhyme scheme. You can literally just say whatever comes to mind, “I’m gonna XXXXXX” as long as you keep it in the rhythm of the original melody.  And the chorus is nice and long, which gives you a chance to think up the next line. An extra challenge is to make consecutive verses rhyme, but it’s not necessary- that’s just a little spit and polish to make the crew smile.

If you listen to the video of this song above you’ll hear me and Edith Gawler inventing lines ad nauseum, using simply what’s going on around us, what we’re up to (clearing sticks and debris and then mulching a garden site where we’ll eventually plant potatoes.)  We simply make up lines like “I’m gonna toss this log over there”, “I’m gonna mulch it deep and mulch it thick” and even “I’m gonna huck and chuck and buck and luck” which is just rhyming that has something to do with what we were doing but was mostly just fun to say.