I’ve long been fascinated by the relationship between sugar, economics, slavery and hardship, historically and in song (Go Down Old Hannah, Joshua Gone Barbados, and so on).
Recently I’ve been doing some work on ‘Ain’t No More Cane’ – like Go Down Old Hannah, to which it’s related, a song from the prison farms of Texas and the Brazos river that I’ve known since the 60s. (Partly from the singing of Bob Hands and/or Dave Dauncey, if I remember correctly, and partly from a version in a book by John and/or Alan Lomax – maybe American Ballads and Folk Songs. Maybe it’s not a good choice for a white middle-class Englishman, even one with a penchant for the blues, but other unlikely people have made a good fist of it, and I’ve been working out a few ideas in GarageBand. I’m a little busy with other things right now, so if the idea of a Harley version doesn’t repel you, you may have to wait for a recorded version.
In the meantime, here’s rather a good article I found that covers a lot of the same ground, by Dave Byrne for the Boston Review: Ground Down to Molasses – The Making of an American Folk Song.