"Worried Man Blues" is a folk song in the roots music repertoire. Like many folks songs passed by oral tradition, the lyrics vary from version to version, but generally all contain the chorus "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long." The verses tell the story of a man imprisoned for unknown reasons "I went across the river, and I lay down to sleep/When I woke up, had shackles on my feet", who pines for his lost love, who is "on the train and gone."
Notable recordings and performances
The Carter Family recorded this song for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1930.
It was also recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935, Woody Guthrie in 1940, the Kingston Trio in 1959 (as "A Worried Man" with new verses), Ramblin' Jack Elliott in the 60s, Johnny Cash in 1969, Devo in 1979, Van Morrison in 1998, Elliott Murphy in 2013, and numerous other artists.