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Sixteen tons

This song was written by Merle Travis, a Western guitarist and song writer in 1947. It was made popular by Tennessee Earnest Ford.

The song refers to the practice of remote industries, such as mines, establishing ‘company towns’ where workers could live close to their jobs. These towns included stores that were also owned by the company. The companies paid their workers with scrips which could only be used in the company stores. The companies took advantage of their monopoly position by charging extortionate prices that the workers could never pay off (“I owe my soul to the company store”) leading to a life of hopeless depression.

We sing an arrangement by Ruth Artman, as demonstrated here.

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The choir is a registered charity.

The Ku-ring-gai Male Choir acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples – the First Australians – as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land and gives respect to the Elders – past, present and emerging – and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.