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Kortzer's Sunday Jams: Leadbelly - Where Did You Sleep Last Night

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Kortzer's Sunday Jams: Leadbelly - Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Where Did You Sleep Last Night also known as In The Pines & Black Girl is a famous American Folk song stemming from "In the Pines" and "The Longest Train", both of whose authorship is unknown and is thought to date back to at least the 1870s.


Huddie Ledbetter, a.k.a. Leadbelly was born on a plantation in 1889 near Freeport Louisiana. There are several conflicting stories about how Ledbetter acquired the nickname "Lead Belly", but he probably acquired it while in prison. Some claim his fellow inmates called him "Lead Belly" as a play on his family name and his physical toughness. Others say he earned the name after being wounded in the stomach with buckshot. Another theory is that the name refers to his ability to drink moonshine.


Leadbelly Recorded around a dozen versions of the track between 1944 & 1948 and this is the most famous. Lead Belly is often said to be the author of the song, e.g. by Nirvana on their MTV unplugged album in 1994. However, Lead Belly didn't write the song, but reinterpreted it, as did other musicians before and after him. It's also incredibly likely that Kurt Cobain modelled "My Girl" on Leadbelly's version of the track.