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A work song, "Pay Me My Money Down" originated among the Negro stevedores working in the Georgia Sea Islands. It was collected by Lydia Parrish and published in her 1942 book, Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands:[1]

Pay me, Oh pay me,
Pay me my money down.
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my money down.

The melody is much older and used in other songs, [2]

Also known as "Pay Me" or "Pay Me, You Owe Me", it was performed by The Weavers during their influential 1955 Carnegie Hall concerts. It was further popularized by The Kingston Trio in 1958. Dan Zanes performed a children's version done calypso-style on his popular 2002 album Night Time.

"Pay Me My Money Down" was the first single and video released from Bruce Springsteen's 2006 big band folk album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. It was one of the most popular played on Springsteen's subsequent Seeger Sessions Band Tour, where it usually closed out the main set amidst much on-stage hijinks and repetitions. On June 23, 2006, near the end of the American leg of that tour, Springsteen performed the song on Late Night with Conan O'Brien with his band, along with host Conan O'Brien and guests Thomas Haden Church and Jimmy Fallon and The Max Weinberg 7.


  1. ^ Parrish, Lydia; Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands, New York: Creative Age (1942).
  2. ^ Lomax, Alan; Folk Songs and Ballads. "Lynchburg Town" (A banjo tune).

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