Music Monday: Nine Pound Hammer

For this week’s Music Monday post, we feature legendary Kentucky guitarist Merle Travis performing his arrangement of the traditional song “Nine Pound Hammer”.

Travis’s version of “Nine Pound Hammer” shares verses with the song “Take This Hammer”. Folklorists trace the roots of this song to African American work songs sung by sharecroppers and railroad workers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Versions have been recorded by blues musicians such as Mississippi John Hurt and Taj Mahal as well as blue grass musician such as Bill Monroe. Travis adapted Nine Pound Hammer to reflect his roots in a coal mining community. The following video clip features Travis performing the song in 1951.

Merle Travis, Nine Pound Hammer