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Cotton Mill Girls - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

This song, sung by the English singer, Michèle Welborn, originates from the United States, where cotton-production was concentrated in two areas, New England and the Southern states. As in all factories and mills in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, pay and conditions were worse than poor. Michèle says, "The way I have interpreted this song is to suggest that at the end of the working day, the girls may have little to show for their labour, but they can still sing and have a bit of fun on the way home."

Michèle has recorded a couple of very good albums, and you will find Cotton Mill Girls on Don't Call Her After Midnight. Details on Michèle's website, www.michele-welborn.com, or her myspace site, www.myspace.com/michelejwelborn.

Chords

 C    F   
Iworkedinthecottonmillallofmylife,
C    G7    
Ain'tgotnothingbutaBarlowknife.   
  C F     
Andit'shardtimescottonmillgirls,   
C G7C      
Hardtimesevery--where.      
          
Chorus         
  C F     
Andit'shardtimescottonmillgirls,   
C G7       
Hardtimescottonmillgirls,     
C F       
Hardtimescottonmillgirls,     
C G7C      
Hardtimesevery--where.      

Lyrics

Well, I worked in the cotton mill all of my life,
Ain’t got nothing but a barlow knife,
And it’s hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere…..

Chorus
And it’s hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere.

In 1915 we heard it said: 
“Go to Cotton Country and get ahead!”
But it’s hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere…..

Repeat Chorus

Now, Vilma de Bardo’s a long, long way,
Down Eli, Jake and Four D K,
But it’s hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere……

Repeat Chorus

We kids worked twelve hours a day,
For fourteen cents of measly pay,
And it’s hard times cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere…..

Repeat Chorus

When I die, don’t bury me at all,
Just hang my body from the spinning room wall,
And pickle my bones in alcohol,
And it’s hard times cotton mill girls…...

Repeat Chorus

Worked in the cotton mill all of my life, 
Ain’t got nothing but a barlow knife,
And it’s hard times, cotton mill girls,
Hard times everywhere…..

Repeat Chorus

With acknowledgement to Hedy West.

Other American Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs


Visit Michèle Welborn's Website