Sixteen Tons is a country-folk song by Merle Travis (1917-1983). It was written in 1946, and immediately caused controversy, as the lyrics were seen as potentially subversive. They dealt with the life and working conditions of American coal miners of the era who were often trapped in bonded labour, hence the chorus: “You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.”
The song shot to fame when it was recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991) in 1955 as a B-side; it quickly became popular, selling over 2 million copies and holding the No.1 position on both the Country Music and Pop charts.
Sixteen Tons has been arranged for Piano, Voice and Guitar.