Let’s have some kick ass music for the Hump Day Video. Sixteen Tons is dedicated to working men everywhere, especially those from the coal mines of Kentucky and West Virginia.
Sixteen Tons is the Tennessee Ernie Ford classic from 1955.
With Ford’s snapping fingers and a unique clarinet-driven pop arrangement by Ford’s music director, Jack Fascinato, “Sixteen Tons” spent ten weeks at number one on the country charts and eight weeks at number one on the pop charts, and made Ford a crossover star. It became Ford’s signature song.
Its also worth noting that in the late 1940s and early 1950s songs about “workers” were often considered subversive. Musicians ran the risk of being considered Communist sympathizers. People were imprisoned for less. The FBI at one point advised some radio stations not to play Sixteen Tons. Have things really changed that much?
Making a successful cover of such a classic is never easy, but Jeff Beck and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top do a masterful job on this one. Perfectly arranged and a performance that totally rocks.
Turn the volume to 11.