Midnight Special

Midnight Special

Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly was born in the late 1800’s and lived until 1949. He is considered an important figure in the early folk movement in the US. Whether he played a 12 string guitar-an accordion or simply made a musical rhythm by stomping his feet-everyone agrees he was an amazing performer.

While Goodnight Irene is touted as his most famous song-Midnight Special is my personal favorite. Some folks believe Lead Belly wrote it-while other’s believe he discovered it while serving time in a Texas prison. Either way-Lead Belly deserves the credit for bringing it to the masses.

The legend behind the song goes something like this: The Midnight Special was a train that ran beside the prison, so close, that the train’s light shone into the cells. If you were lucky enough to have the ‘ever loving light’ shine on you-it meant an early release was coming your way.

Over the years dozens of performers have recorded the Midnight Special-perhaps the most famous, other than Lead Belly, was Creedence Clearwater Revival. For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot we give it a try-see what you think.

Hope you enjoyed the history-and the song. I thought Pap and Paul’s harmony was right on-and Guitar Man’s playing during the breaks outstanding.


p.s. Just have to say an extra word about Guitar Man-he’s my nephew, and the oldest grandchild of Pap and Granny. Can’t believe he’s a senior this year. Not only is he a pretty good guitar picker-he’s also a whiz in school. Just last week he met with Yale for a full scholarship-yeah he’s smart.


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  • Reply
    September 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    As always, I love to stop and read your wonderful words….I had no idea that is what that song was about! And I love the music from your talented family! blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    September 21, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    I love that song and Lead Belly. My favorite band loves him too and really is inspired them too. I think you and yours would like this guy. You should check him out.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    September 21, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    This was a great song. Your family is so talented. Thanks for the history about Lead Belly and the “Midnight Special.”

  • Reply
    September 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Dang! I’m having a problem with YouTube this week and couldn’t play the whole thing, would play for a few seconds and then try to reload. (not you, it’s my computer I’m sure). Anyway, yes, I know that song and love it.
    Congrats to Guitar Man. So cool. Not a feat many can accomplish!!

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    September 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    A wonderful rendition to a classic song! And I wish your nephew the very best, Tipper! A scholarship to Yale…woooooo hooooo! Bravo!
    Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend! :))

  • Reply
    fishing guy
    September 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Tipper: What a neat song and the boys did a gret job. Congrats on Guitar Man’s ability in school.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 20, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Hey, a great big congratulation to Guitar Man. Yale that is quite an accomplishment!!!!
    Great song and great harmony. Tipper, I believe that was your elbow we could see playing…might need a bigger lens on your camera?
    It is raining cats and dogs here….has been all night. This should help our ground water lever!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Never knew the history either, thanks for sharing that.
    That’s an old favorite that I haven’t heard in a long time.
    Way to go Guitar Man! Great pickin’ and smart too. You have a great future ahead of you, take advantage of it and make us all proud!!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for the post — am I having deja vu or is this on your youtube list?
    Talked to my MIL about the leather breeches, she says they called them shucky beans and confesses that she never cared for them much. She says her grandfather used to hang a frame with wire over the stove (coal country) and dry apples up there. We had some good conversations when I showed her some of your entries.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike
    September 20, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Hey: This “Midnight Special” is one great tune for my sweetheart to play on his harmonica! E.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Great rendition of an old Classic. Congratulations to nephew for applying himself and earning a scholarship to Yale. Remind him to keep his focus around those pointy headed liberals up there. Special thanks to the bass player’s hand and elbow – they did a fine job too. Pappy

  • Reply
    September 19, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    That was soooo good. I grew up to CCR ( I still have the LP’s)and didn’t know the history of the song. What an accomplishment to go to Yale!

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    September 19, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Tight harmony….and, yep, you’re right….outstanding guitar playing. And send congrats to your nephew…that’s serious $$ at Yale. May this new chapter of his life be blessed!

  • Reply
    Matthew Burns
    September 19, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Big Midnight Spacial, shine your ever-lovin’ light on me!
    Love, love, love that song. As you know, my favorite version is done by Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper.
    Your bunch did a great job on this.
    Thanks for the background info, I didn’t know any of it.

  • Reply
    September 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I never knew the history of this song. Tell Guitar Man good going!

  • Reply
    September 19, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Ya’ll have so much talent! Maybe my Hubby will jam with ya’ll one day, you just never know! ;D

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