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Lyr Req: Fannin Street (Leadbelly)

05 Jul 01 - 05:41 AM (#498782)
Subject: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: BIG AL

Coud someone help me out with the lyrics and background information about this song?

05 Jul 01 - 07:37 AM (#498831)
Subject: ADD: 'Fannin Street'
From: Stewie

I am surprised the lyrics to this are not in the DT or the forum already. Nor could I find them with a quick search of the usual suspects on the net. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I've typed out the transcription in the booklet to a Michael Cooney LP on Sandy's label. Leadbelly evidently had an early fascination with the seamier side of life. Fannin Street was the red light district of political boss Mr Tom Hughes' town, Shreveport, Louisiana. Leadbelly sings of the chippies, or prostitutes, working the streets.


My mama told me
My sister too
Said, 'The Shreveport women, son,
Will be the death of you'

Said to my mama,
'Mama, you don't know
If the Fannin Street women gonna kill me
Well, you might as well let me go'

Follow me down,
Follow me down,
Follow me down
By Mr Tom Hughes town

I went to my mama
Fell down on my knees
Said, 'Oh, mama, won't you forgive me, please?'

She started to cry:
Follow me down,
Follow me down,
Follow me down
By Mr Tom Hughes town

I got a woman
Lives on Stony Hill
She used to sit down and gamble with
Mr Buffalo Bill

He's a bad man

You got a woman
Gamble with Buffalo Bill
Two chances in one, babe,
You ain't done got killed

She started to cry:

Follow me down,
Follow me down,
Follow me down
By Mr Tom Hughes town

I got a woman
Lives back of the jail
Makes an honest livin'
By the wigglin' of her tail

Cry for me

Anyone should ask you
Who made up this song
Tell 'em Huddie Ledbetter
Done been here and gone

Follow me down,
Follow me down,
Follow me down
By Mr Tom Hughes town

Source: transcription in booklet to Michael Cooney 'The Cheese Stands Alone' Folk Legacy LP FSI-35.


06 Jul 01 - 01:26 AM (#499554)
Subject: RE: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Roger in Baltimore

After reading a biography of Lead Belly, I suspect Fannin' Street or a similar place was part of his life at some point. Lead Belly certainly was attracted to the "big city life" when he was on the farm. He used to sneak off occasionally to go to places to which his family did not want him to go.

Roger in Baltimore

06 Jul 01 - 02:24 AM (#499562)
Subject: RE: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Rick Fielding

The guitar intro to Fannin' Street, simply astonishes me, even to this day.

Apparently Huddie played "Windjammer" (Cajun accordion) and danced on the street for change. He hadn't come into contact with the 12 String at that time.


01 Aug 01 - 12:51 PM (#519133)
Subject: RE: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Max

He tells a story on Last Sessions about that Fannin Street. I think he says it was in Shrevesport. His dad used to go get mail and sell cotton and buy a newspaper once a week there. It was 5 miles from his house in the country. Fannin Street was where everyone danced and sang in the streets. When he was little, his dad would put him to sleep in the wagon and go down to Fannin Street to party before heading home. Leadbelly couldn't wait to grow up and go down there too. When Leadbelly was 16 or 17 his dad sent him to sell the cotton by himself but warned him not to go to Fannin Street. He went anyhow, every time his dad sent him into town. That's where he learned to play 6 string guitar by sitting on the bass side of a piano when they played.

01 Jul 04 - 01:54 PM (#1217756)
Subject: RE: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: GUEST,

actually, Leadbelly learned how to play the 6-string from a few street singers up on Fannin Street.

Just thought I could clear it up. If I'm wrong please forgive me

01 Jul 04 - 03:09 PM (#1217806)
Subject: RE: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Mark Clark

I don't think Lead Belly's attraction to the big city life was limited to his rural youth. Remember that when Lomax found him he was in prison for murder, and he hadn't been framed or anything. He wore a high buttoned collar or bandana to hide a scar that ran from ear to ear where, in a fight, someone tried to cut his head off with a dull knife.

I know Martha settled him down a little but I suspect he stayed on the wild side most of his life.

      - Mark

30 Aug 04 - 09:45 PM (#1260266)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Hear (and download) "Fannin Street," sung by Leadbelly, here: Louisiana Voices

"Fannin Street" is given as an example of North Louisiana blues. Leadbelly picks it out on a 12-string.
Ten other good examples of Louisiana music, including an old Clifton Chenier and the Delta song Where there's a will, sung by Ernie K. Doe.

30 Aug 04 - 10:03 PM (#1260287)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Fannin Street, northern Shreveport, Caddo Parish, runs roughly E-W and crosses North Market St., stopped by the Parkway from reaching the river. Texas St., to the south of Fannin, crosses the river to Bossier City.

31 Aug 04 - 10:10 AM (#1260701)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Big Jim from Jackson

Michael Cooney does a nice version of "Fannin Street" on a recording made for Folk-Legacy. Pete Seeger is quoted as saying that the opening notes of "Fannin Street" are as distinctive as the opening notes of Beetoven's 5th Symphony.

10 Dec 04 - 10:02 PM (#1353674)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Leadbelly's Fanin Street

Lead Belly went to Shreveport, LA , in his father's wagon, his father taking produce to sell in the city. Apparently his father made Huddie lie down in the wagon while he was passing the houses of ill-repute that flourished on Fannin Street in the early 1900s.
Tom Hughes was the Sheriff of Caddo Parish (Shreveport is the main town) from 1916 to 1940, thus was related to a later stage of Huddie's life.
Huddie learned to play guitar from his uncles, Bob & Terrel. He spent most of his life, before being incarcerated in the Texas Penitentiary in 1917, in the country between Mooringsport, LA and Marshall, TX.
When the Lomaxes found him, he was serving a term (in Angola, LA) for assaultng a white man, not murder. He was paroled without the aid of the Lomaxes.

27 Jul 06 - 04:01 PM (#1794815)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fannin Street (Leadbelly)
From: ledbilly

Can someone expound on the reference to "buffalo bill"? I've heard this reference on several of his songs. Buffalo Bill is a "bad man". Who is he referring to?

26 Sep 06 - 10:57 AM (#1843689)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fannin Street (Leadbelly)
From: GUEST,Jeff S.

Some of you might be interested to know that while Lead Belly is probably more responsible than anyone in history for putting Shreveport, LA on the map, he's barely recognized here. In fact, as I recall, it took a monumental effort to erect a statue of him downtown, and it didn't happen until the 1990's. Only in recent years was a notoriously crime-riddem low income section of town renamed Ledbetter Heights. It has previously been known simply as The Bottoms. I'd wager that a surprisingly large portion of the local population has only a vague notion of who Huddie Ledbetter was or what he contributed to American culture.

The opposite is true of Elvis, who performed here for just a brief period of time back in the 1950's on the old Louisiana Hayride. The locals come as close as possible to claiming him as a native son. The street on which the old Muncipal Auditorium sits (where the Hayride was staged) has been renamed after Elvis, and there's a statue of him outside the auditorium.


26 Sep 06 - 12:16 PM (#1843777)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fannin Street (Leadbelly)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Shreveport's population is about 200,000, 51% Black. Metropolitan pop. close to 400,000. Located in NW Louisiana west of the Red River, it is the largest town serving adjacent parts of Arkansas and Texas, although Marshall, TX, about 25,000 and 35 miles to the west, also is important in the area. Income, particularly for the Blacks, is below the U. S. average. Median income for all families is 72% of the national average and 19% of families are below the poverty line.
Source- Demographic data of several websites, excluding Wakipedia.

23 Dec 08 - 12:00 AM (#2522699)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: GUEST,Mark Rogers

I live in Shreveport where Fannin Street exists to this day. It was well known for brothels around the turn of the century. (And is frequented by streetwalkers today).

The reference to Stony Hill is actually Stoner Hill, a neighborhood named after E.B. Stoner at the end of Stoner Avenue.

Buffalo Bill was a slang term in the late 1800s for a white man who sleeps with black women.

Tom Hughes was sheriff of Shreveport for many, many years in the 1930s and 1940s and one of the most powerful political figures of the time.

23 Dec 08 - 12:50 PM (#2523093)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Leadbelly's Fanin Street
From: Big Al Whittle

I started this threead in 2001. back then I didn't know how Mudcat worked. i thought you just put a question and the answer appeared by magic. i didn't realise that people were involved.

That's why I never replied and thanked you all for your help. Not bad manners - just dumb!

14 Nov 12 - 04:03 PM (#3436584)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fannin Street (Leadbelly)

my grandfather Dave Tyson lived in Caddo around Rodessa and was bout the same age as Leadbelly, he played guitar, piano & mandolin and had similar repertoire. They played a few times together on Fannin St. and other local honkytonks. I know from the family about a few other local musicians grandpa played with: piano player named Major Lamkins, drummer Eddie "Coot" Lewis, and guitar player Jesse Jackson.