T.B. Woman Blues

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T.B. Woman Blues - Leadbelly
25 March 1935 NYC
ARC 17180-1 unissued
Transcribed from Leadbelly King of the 12-String Guitar, Columbia Roots 'N' Blues 467893
12 string in standard down 3 half steps and played in A position so actual pitch F#

It's too late, too late, too late, too late, too late
It's too late, too late, too late, too late, too late
I'm on my way to Deadville and mama must I hesitate

[holler] She was runnin' with 25 or 30 men. And one man in the bus, she liked bestest of them all.
He was a sweetback[1] man. And the mens was comin' around, they asks her what she want.
She didn't want nothin' from them then.
But when her sweetback man come around to ask her for one dime, you didn't see her no more.
Her mama walked up and said "Darlin' don't you worry".
She looked at her mama and here' what she said: [/holler]

T.B.'s alright to have if your friends'd treat you so low down
T.B.'s alright to have, friends'd treat you so low down
Don't you ask 'em for no favors, they even stop a-comin' around

[holler] Mama said "Daughter don't you worry", she looked at her mama, here' what she said: [/holler]

Mmmmmm... the T.B.'s killin' me
Mmmmmm... the T.B.'s killin' me
I'm a-like a prisoner, I'm always a-workin' this chain

[holler] Her mama walked up to her daughter and said "Don't you worry".
She began to think about it but she was on her feet.
Wearin' her high-heel slippers and her drop-stitch hose
She walked around to her mama, here' what she said: [/holler]

And it's on my feet, couldn' even but walk down the street[2]
Where the men a-lookin' at me, from my head to my feet
But it's late now, that T.B.s killin' me
I want my body buried, in the deep blue sea

[holler] These are the last few words she said.
Her mama walked up, looked down in her daughter's face, and here' what her daughter said: [/holler]

I've got a-too-bercolosis, consumption is killin' me



  1. Variously, slang for 'a badass', 'a good lover'
  2. T.B. may attack the bones of the feet, amputation was considered the quickest way to get a patient back to work where more conservative courses of treatment had been ruled out

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