THE ROYALTY OF PO' LAZERUS

POSTED IN PRISON LIFE

27/03/2014

Number 10 in our prison song countdown is one from whom the singer was paid some good money fourty years after it was recorded.
Po' Lazerus by James Carter & the prisoners was recorded in the end of the fifties by Alan Lomax, a well known American musicologist.
Lomax recorded many songs in prison all over the country and made several albums of collected folk songs.
The recordings were used in the Coen brothers movie ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’

When the crew from the movie wanted to pay a $20.000,- royalty check for its use they were able to track down James Carter, one of the prisoners singing. 
James Carter didn’t remember he sang this song when he was

reminded by the crew. Po’ Lazerus, a song about a dangerous man named Lazerus who’s shot down by a sherrif, is just one of the many songs that were sung by chain gangs.

The term chain gang originated after the American Civil War when prisoners were used to perform public works. Which, in that time was free. Luckily in our prisons no chain gang procedures are in use

For more chain gang songs, click here

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