Jody

Jody was sung by Benny Richardson in Ellis Unit, part of the Texas penitentiary system in Hendersonville, Texas in the 1960s.  It was collected by Bruce Jackson and his scholarship matches the remarkable nature of the song itself. 

There is a great video that includes Jody being sung by Benny Richardson here at folkstreams.net. The video, which was made by Pete and Toshi Seeger, includes a transcript that is useful for reading along as you watch the video.

Another important resource for Jody is "Wake Up Dead Man, Hard Labor and Southern Blues" by Bruce Jackson.  In it he describes the epic nature of the song, which has a simple form, satisfying melody and and haiku-like lyrics that distill the prison experience 

Lyrics

I've been working all day long,
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.
Pickin' this stuff called cotton and corn,
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.

We raise cotton, cane and a-corn.
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.
'Taters and tomatoes and a-that ain't all,
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.

Back is weak and I done got tired,
Got to tighten up just to save my hide.

Boss on a hoss and he's watchin' us all,
Better tighten up, (if we) don't we'll catch the hall.

Wonder if the Major will go my bail.
(Or) give me twelve hours standing on the rail.

BRIDGE:
Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.
Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.

I see the Captain sittin' in the shade.
He don't do nothin' but-a he get paid.

We work seven long days in a row.
Two sacks of Bull and a picture show.

In the wintertime we get no lay,
Cuttin' cane and makin' syrup every day.

When it gets wet in the cane field.
All the squads work around the old syrup mill.

Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.
Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.

Two more months and it won't be long.
Gonna catch the chain 'cause I'm goin' home.

Goin' back home to my old gal, Sue,
My buddy's wife and his sister, too.

Ain't no need of you writin' home.
Jody's got your girl and gone.

Ain't no need of you feelin' blue,
Jody's got your sister, too.

First thing I'll do when I get-a home.
Call my woman on the telephone.

Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.
Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.

Gonna settle down for the rest of my life.
Get myself a job and get myself a wife.

Six long years I've been in the pen.
Don't want to come to this place again.

Captain and the boss is drivin' us on.
Makin' us wish we'd-a stayed at home.

If we had listened what our mama say,
We wouln't be cuttin' wood here today.

Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.
Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.

Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.
Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.

Captain and the boss is drivin' us on,
Makin' us wish we'd-a stayed at home.

We had listened what our mama say,
We wouldn't (be) droppin' big timber here today.

Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.
Yeah, yeah.
YEAH, YEAH.

From Wake Up Dead Man CD recorded by Bruce Jackson at Texas prisons in the mid-'60's.