When the Levee Breaks

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When the Levee Breaks  (1929) 
by Memphis Minnie
"When the Levee Breaks" is a blues song first recorded by Memphis Minnie and her then-husband Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929. Transcribed from the original recording found on Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe Vol. 1 (1929-1930).

If it keeps on raining, levee's going to break.
If it keeps on raining, levee's going to break.
And the water gonna come and I have no place to stay.

Well all last night, I sat on the lever[1] and moaned.
Well all last night, I sat on the lever[1] and moaned.
Thinkin' 'bout my baby, and my happy home.

If it keeps on raining, levee's going to break.
If it keeps on raining, levee's going to break.
And all these people, have no place to stay.

Now look here, mama, what am I to do?
Now look here, mama, now what I should do?
I ain't got nobody, 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.

O, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good.
Time, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good.
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.

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

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

O, mean old levee, caused me to weep and moan.
Yes, the mean old levee, caused me to weep and moan.
Caused me to leave my baby, and my happy home.

Notes[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Levee"

Licensing[edit]

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) before 1964, and copyright was not renewed.
For Class A renewals records (books only) published between 1923 and 1963, check the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database and the Rutgers copyright renewal records.
For other renewal records of publications between 1922 - 1950 see the Pennsylvania copyright records scans.
For all records since 1978, search the U.S. Copyright Office records.

Works published in 1929 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1956 or 1957, i.e. at least 27 years after it was first published / registered but not later than 31 December(31 December) in the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on 1 January 1958(1 January 1958).