Tune du Jour: “Black Betty” – Lead Belly
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Nick Cave vs. Young Fresh Fellows vs. Tom Jones
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)
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California is a garden of Eden, A paradise to live in or see. But believe it or not, You won't find it so hot, If you ain't got the broccoli

Broccoli Had A Child,
Damn Thing Went Wild,


The Original


Huddie Ledbetter (aka Lead Belly):


The Most Popular


Ram Jam:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Nick Cave vs. Young Fresh Fellows vs. Tom Jones


Nick Cave:

Young Fresh Fellows:

Tom Jones:

Okay, when I saw Tom Jones covered Black Betty I felt I had to include it for comical purposes only. But, damn, I have to admit that Jones (aka TJ) actually does a credible job on it.


Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 


Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Cuspid says:

    Tom Jones all the way. Nick Cave is way too scary. I think he was channeling is inner Black Betty’s Child.

  2. RDubbs says:

    When the subject matter’s grim and sullen there’s no better messenger than the Caveman. But TJ does unexpectedly get major kudos for a cover well done!

  3. Kerry Black says:

    I saw Ram Jam perform this in the ’70s, but only because they were a supporting act.

    I voted for Tom Jones. Strong TJ vocals and a great video.

    It’s a catchy beat that can get a crowd cheering and clapping in unison. Although it’s now banned by NCAA as potentially offensive.

  4. Arnold Plotnick says:

    The Tom Jones version is great. He’s grown on me over the years, I’ll admit. Ram Jam’s version is kickass, but they weren’t on the ballot. Nick Cave’s version was very NickCavish, and hey, I’m getting tired of his schtick. Schtick Cave.

  5. Cuspid says:

    Kerry – I think you meant NAACP, right?

    • RDubbs says:

      I guess either could apply. While the NAACP does not have the authority to ban the song from anywhere, it has complained about it for many years. I could not find any reference to the NCAA, as governing body of college athletics, banning the song. However, in 2006, due to repeated condemnation from the NAACP and complaints from the student body, the University of New Hampshire stopped using “Black Betty” as it’s rallying song as the UNH Hockey team took the ice.

      • Kerry Black says:

        I remembered that story being in the news about a decade ago, and that it pertained to a college hockey team.

        I was vague on the specifics, so I quickly googled it yesterday before posting. I found a website that claimed it was banned by the NCAA, so I went with it. It may be a “questionable” source, but I didn’t have a lot of time to spend researching it. If it’s not accurate, I’ll blame my staff.

  6. Pete Black says:

    I really liked all versions. I just love this song. I grew up on the Ram Jam version which I think is just smokin’! It sound just like its era. Driving music in your GTO with a V8 guzzling cheap gas listening to Radar Love or Highway Child. Almost voted for Cave because his dark take is always compelling. His presence and charisma live left a big impression on me. Devastating. One of the most powerful yet versatile performers I have ever seen.

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