Lead Belly, “Princess Elizabeth” from Lead Belly: Smithsonian-Folkways Collection (2015)

Share this:

Your average pre-war blues picker confined himself to the passions and difficulties of the life immediately before him, often singing of crushing slave-labor conditions and the bad choices that often followed that hard day’s work.

Not Lead Belly. Witness “Princess Elizabeth,” a song celebrating the 1947 wedding of a future monarch to Prince Philip, an event that was both literally and figuratively a world away from the piney woods of Huddie Ledbetter’s life in the Deep South.

Almost seven decades later, Princess Elizabeth has, of course, become Elizabeth II — Queen of England since 1952. Even her long-ago coronation, however, found Lead Belly sadly gone, the victim of Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Princess Elizabeth” (then, as now, an unadorned, 12-string-driven celebration of matrimonial pageantry) seemed lost to the ages — until now.

The forthcoming Lead Belly: The Smithsonian-Folkways Collection, a five-disc, 108-track collection due on February 24, 2015, includes “Princess Elizabeth” as one of more than dozen previously unheard tracks. Also included is a sumptuous book dotted with photographs, and archivist Jeff Place’s thoughts on compiling this important set.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close