An Explication of the Song Black Betty

Topics: Poetry, Ram Jam, Black people Pages: 2 (740 words) Published: March 8, 2005
"Black Betty" – Ram Jam

A man by the name of Charles Simic once said, "Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them"(Quote Land). Poems have been written for thousands of years. When most people think of poetry, they either think of a sonnet, limerick, all the way down to a haiku. They also think that a poem is something that must be recited, but in reality a poem can also be sang as a song. Lately more and more songs that are being released have a story behind them, trying to express feelings of loneliness, death, or past experiences. One of the best examples would be rap. Rappers love to tell about "their" life in the city; when the times were rough because they were poor and all the violence going on. But rap isn't the only type of music that can be interpreted as a poem.

William Huddie Ledbetter was born on January 29th, 1885 in Louisiana (Ledbelly). Huddie was the world's greatest cotton picker, railroad track liner, lover, and drinker, but he was better known for his astounding guitar playing. He was a black man who traveled the south singing and recording folk songs. William Huddie Ledbetter was known as "Ledbelly", and his one song "Black Betty" was widely known. On December 6th, 1949 Huddie died due to lateral sclerosis.

Ram Jam was an east coast band formed in the mid 70's. It's members consisted of Bill Bartlett, Howie Blauvelt, Peter Charles, Myke Scavone, and Jimmy Santoro. Ram Jam is known for being a one hit wonder by using William Huddie Ledbetter's song "Black Betty" It reached number 18 on the charts in 1977, and in the UK it reached number 7 & it's remix made number 13 (Ram Jam). "Black Betty" can be considered a poem because of its rhyme scheme and many other poetic devices.

When explicating "Black Betty" at first, it's real meaning is hard to find. It takes more than one try to figure out what William Huddie Ledbetter was trying to dictate in his song. The song is about a...
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