The Carter Songbook
The Carter Songbook Songs: Single Girl, Married GirlEngine One-Forty-ThreeWorried Man BluesGold Watch and Chain
Lesley Riddle (friend and fellow musician to AP Carter) circa 1930's.

Listen to Worried Man Blues performed by George Jones. (3:11)

Audio courtesy of Dualtone Music Group, Inc.


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In the late 1920s A.P. Carter became friends with Lesley "Esley" Riddle, a singer and guitar player, who introduced Carter to a wealth of spirituals and blues. Riddle, a black man with one leg, and A.P. Carter, a very tall man with a constant tremor, made quite a pair as they travelled together through the Jim Crow South knocking on doors asking for songs.

The Carter Family had tapped into another popular strain of music. Worried Man Blues was their biggest selling record of 1930.

Worried Man Blues

It takes a worried man to sing a worried song,
It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.
I'm worried now but I won't be worried long,

I went across the river and I lay down to sleep,
I went across the river and I lay down to sleep.
When I woke up I had shackles on my feet.

Twenty-nine links of chain around my leg,
Twenty-nine links of chain around my leg.
And on each link an initial of my name.

It takes a worried man to sing a worried song,
It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.
I'm worried now but I won't be worried long.

I asked the old judge what may be my fine,
I asked the old judge tell me what may be my fine?
"Twenty-one years on the R. C. Mountain line."

The train arrived sixteen coaches long,
The train arrived sixteen coaches long.
The girl I love is on that train and gone.

It takes a worried man to sing a worried song,
It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.
I'm worried now but I won't be worried long.

I looked down the track as far as I could see,
I looked down the track as far as I could see.
A little bitty hand was waving back at me.



The Carter Family American Experience PBS