SIXTEEN TUMS (Parody of Sixteen Tons)


Sign up for our mailing list below (never shared)
and we’ll notify you when we post a new parody:

Don't Miss a Single Parody
Join over 5.000 visitors who receive an email every time we release a new Parody. This monumental event happens once a week (at the most).
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else or used for any other purpose.
Powered by Optin Forms

If you’d like to become a patron of Parody Project
just click the button below:


Lyrics by Don Caron – Music by Merle Travis

coal-story sixteen tonsSome people say a man has the freedom to choose
But the people in power never walked in his shoes
A walk in his shoes wouldn’t make them see
That choices are hampered by poverty

You take sixteen Tums, ‘cause your stomach’s upset
From a big tax burden and a lot of debt
You know they’ll take ya for more and more
To feed that monster called permanent war. 

 You were born into a world that the wealthy control
You can purchase a vote if you sell your soul
You can sell your soul but the bids not high
And you’ll be lucky if it pays for the food you buy

You take sixteen Tums, for the ache in your gut
Your social security’s about to get cut
Your medicare and medicaid have got to go
Because of corporations on the public dole 

You could tell ‘em they can stick it where the sun don’t shine
What’s theirs is theirs and what’s mine is mine
But you’ll never stand a chance standing’ up to the man
‘Cause a future for you was never part of the plan

You got 16 years of school complete
And you got yourself a debt you can never defeat
It’s no accident you’re stuck with a bill to pay
Designed to define you ’til you’re old and gray

Seems ya gotta have insurance just to stay alive
A lot of men didn’t, and a lot of men died
But there’s a two party system and that’s the deal
If the right one don’t get you, then the left one will

You take sixteen Tums, ‘cause your stomach’s upset
The bottom of the ladder is as far as you get
But it serves a purpose for those in control
Cause you won’t cause them no problems when you’re deep in the hole. 

Copyright 2017 Parody Project



Sixteen Tons by Merle Travis “Sixteen Tons” tells the story of a coal miner, and it was specifically written about the mines in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. The song was written by Merle Travis who also released the first recording of it in 1946 – the recording eventually became a gold hit.

Merle Travis was not just imagining what life might be like in the mines of Kentucky. One of the lines from his song, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt,” was a direct quote from letter written by Travis’ brother, John. Travis took another line from his father who as a coal miner and would often make comments to the effect that he couldn’t afford to die because he owed his soul to the company store.

Tennessee_Ernie_Ford_1957 Sixteen TonsThe song achieved it’s pinnacle of popularity in 1955 when a recording of it was released by Tennessee Ernie Ford, a version which reached number one in the Billboard charts. The song makes references to the “truck system” and to “debt bondage.” Under this scrip system, workers were paid with credit vouchers usable only for goods sold at the company store. These vouchers could not be sold, traded or transferred. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay.

In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices. Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded “Sixteen Tons” in 1955 as the B-side of his cover of the Moon Mullican standard, “You Don’t Have to Be a Baby to Cry”. With Ford’s snapping fingers and a unique clarinet-driven pop arrangement, it quickly became a million seller. It hit Billboard’s country music chart in November and held the No. 1 position for ten weeks, then crossed over and held the number 1 position on the pop music chart for eight weeks.


[quads id=3]

5 Responses

  1. Alan Federman

    I write parodies, but I am not a musician. Can I submit to you? Loved “Confound the Science”.”

  2. Ottmar

    Such a pleasure to listen to comedic and ironic music based on your point of view (I” Canadian BTW). Well done folks!

  3. admin

    Thanks Donita, and thanks for stopping by. Come back whenever you like! Always welcome.

  4. donita gross

    These are just great…..haven’t heard them all, but what I have is so much fun.
    thanks to all who make it happen.