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"When the Levee Breaks"

Reported by Marie Therese - August 31, 2005

The levees are part of the fabric of life in the fabled city of New Orleans! They break and they get fixed, then they break again only to be fixed again. Mardi Gras is always followed by Ash Wednesday, is followed by Mardi Gras, is followed by Ash Wednesday, is followed by .... like a natural circle, unbroken and unending.

In 1929 the year of the Great Crash, Memphis Minnie recorded a song that speaks even today. It was written as a result of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, where many blacks were forced at gunpoint to repair the levees.

The lyrics are below. The song was (and is and will be) "When the Levee Breaks"

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay

Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and my happy home

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And all these people have no place to stay

Now look here mama what am I to do
Now look here mama what am I to do
I ain't got nobody to tell my troubles to

I works on the levee mama both night and day
I works on the levee mama both night and day
I ain't got nobody, keep the water away

Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose

I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works so hard, to keep the water away

I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me
I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me
I'm goin' back to my used to be

It's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
It's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
Gonna leave my baby, and my happy home

For more information on "When the Levee Breaks" (which was also recorded by Led Zeppelin) go to Wikipedia.

Thanks to our reader, Mitch, for the link to the MP3.

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