Go Down, Old Hannah

DESCRIPTION: "Go down, old Hannah, well, well, well! Don't you rise no mo'. If you rise in the mornin', Bring Judgment Day." The singer describes the dreadful conditions in the Brazos River prisons, and hopes for release in any form
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1933 (recording, unknown artists, AFS CYL-7-1)
KEYWORDS: prison hardtimes work worksong
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Lomax/Lomax-OurSingingCountry, "Go Down, Ol' Hannah" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 286, "Go Down, Old Hannah" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-TreasuryOfSouthernFolklore, p. 745, "Go Down, Old Hannah" (1 text, 1 tune)
Courlander-NegroFolkMusic, p. 142, "Go Down Old Hannah" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jackson-WakeUpDeadMan, pp. 77-75, "Should A Been on the River in 1910" (1 text, 1 tune; the first verse, about driving women and men alive, is from this song or "Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos", but the remainder is a separate piece); pp. 111-118, "Go Down Old Hannah" (4 texts, 2 tunes)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 71, "Old Hannah" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Moses Asch and Alan Lomax, Editors, _The Leadbelly Songbook_, Oak, 1962, p. 50, "Go Down Old Hannah" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #6710
James "Iron Head" Baker, Will Crosby, R. D. Allen & Mose "Clear Rock" Platt, "Go Down Old Hannah" (AFS 195 A2, 1933; on LC08) [note: the AFS reissue identified this as 196 A2; this listing comes from Dixon/Godrich/Rye] (AFS 617 A3, 685 A2, 696 A1, 717 B, all 1936)
Mose "Clear Rock" Platt, "Go Down Old Hannah" (AFS 2643 A1, 1939)
Dock Reese, "Go Down, Old Hannah" (on AschRec2)
Texas state farm prisoners, "Go Down, Old Hannah" (on NPCWork)
Unknown artists, "Go Down Old Hannah" (AFS CYL-7-1, 1933)

cf. "Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos"
NOTES [103 words]: The amount of common material in this song and "Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos" makes it certain they have cross-fertilized. They may be descendants of a common ancestor. But the stanzaic forms are different, so I list them separately.
The name "Hannah" refers to the sun. Jackson notes that, in some prisons, if a prisoner died or fainted in his row, he would be given no help, so the prisoners literally had to work until they dropped. On a day when it was particularly bright and hot, death in the fields was a real possibility -- hence the appeal, in some versions, "Wake up, dead man, Help me carry my row." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
File: LoF286

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