The Midnight Special (prison song) -Creedence Clearwater Revival

The Midnight Special

Midnight Special
Well you wake up in the morning you hear the work bell ring
And they march you to the table to see the same old thing.
Ain’t no food upon the table and no pork up in the pan.
But you better not complain boy, you get in trouble with the man.

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine an ever-loving light on me.

Yonder come miss Rosie, how in the world did you know?
By the way she wears her apron, and the clothes she wore.
Umbrella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand;
She come to see the governor, she wants to free her man.

Let the Midnight Special ….

If you’re ever in Houston, well, you better do the right;
You better not gamble, there, you better not fight, at all
Or the sheriff will grab you and the boys will bring you down.
The next thing you know, boy, Oh! You’re prison bound.

Let the Midnight Special ….

“Midnight Special” is a traditional folk song that originated among prisoners in the American South. The Midnight Special was a passenger train which ran at night.
Some say that folk and blues musician Lead Belly wrote and popularized it after his release from Sugar Land prison in Texas, but in fact it was an adaptation of a song he had heard during his incarceration in the early 1920s. Lyrics appearing in the song were first documented in print by sociologist Howard W. Odum, when he quoted a couple of verses in a book he published in 1911.
In 1934, Lead Belly recorded a version of the song at Angola Prison for John and Alan Lomax, who mistakenly attributed it to him as the author.
From their prison cells, the prisoners of Sugar Land prison would hear the siren calls of the train around midnight, and the light from the train shining in the night (The “ever-loving light”) gave them comfort and hope. According to a sort of superstition, if you were in the light of that train you would gain freedom. Therefore, the prisoners saw that train as a symbol of freedom and hope in the dark despair of their incarceration. Its light can be considered as the light of salvation, coming from an agent that could take them away from the prison walls.
The song, highly reminiscent of the imagery of other gospel songs, is historically performed in the country-blues style from the viewpoint of the prisoner and has been covered by many artists such as Pete Seeger, Mungo Jerry, Van Morrison, Little Richard, Eric Clapton, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney (with The Beatles and solo), Abba .

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