Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

Album: Best Of Leadbelly (1933)
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
    Tell me where did you sleep last night?
    In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don't ever shine
    I would shiver the whole night through.
    My girl, my girl, where will you go?
    I'm going where the cold wind blows.
    In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don't ever shine
    I would shiver the whole night through.

    And once there was a hard working man
    Just about a mile from here.
    His hair was found in a driving wheel,
    But his body never was found.

    My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
    Tell me where did you sleep last night?
    In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don't ever shine
    I would shiver the whole night through.

    My girl, my girl, where will you go?
    I'm going where the cold wind blows.
    In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don't ever shine
    I would shiver the whole night through.

    My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
    Tell me where did you sleep last night?
    In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don't ever shine
    I would shiver the whole night through.
    My girl, my girl, where will you go?
    I'm going where the cold wind blows.
    In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don't ever shine
    I would shiver the whole night through.

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Comments: 15

  • Papa Jacque from SwitzerlandWho is asking the black girl these questions. Her husband....no, he's dead. Who else is interested in where she sleeped last night?
  • Vivienne from AustraliaHaving said that now I wonder if his head got caught in the driving wheel and his body got mashed up on the railroad tracks.......

    What a great song with so many ways to interpret it's meaning
  • Vivienne from AustraliaHmm as I learn this song I can't help feeling that the husband was murdered in a race killing, perhaps at work and consequently she is hiding out so as not to be next. OR perhaps as some surmise he was killed by her lover if she had one? But that's not the feeling I get. I can't help feeling she is hiding out from the killers out of fear, loss and grief.

    After all, his work is mentioned followed immediately by "his head was found in a driving wheel* and his body was never found". Implies a work place killing. Where's the body if it was an accident? And why mention his work? And why a Driving wheel? Sounds like murder to me.

    Definition for Driving wheel below.
    *definition: (driving wheel- 1.any of the large wheels of a locomotive, to which power is applied either directly or via coupling rods.
    2.a wheel transmitting motive power in machinery.
  • Troy from VaA lot of people here seem to think Leadbelly wrote this song, but that is not the case. It's a folk song with an unknown author thought to originate in the 1870's. Cobain was referencing the fact that they are covering Leadbelly's interpretation of the song during the MTV Unplugged shoot. The earliest written version of the lyrics - only 4 lines - do reference a black girl appearing to have been lynched but the earliest known recording of the song does not. There were countless recordings around this same time and most of them vary as to who is killed and why.
  • Juve from California In 2012 the rock/alternative duo WZRD sang "Where did you sleep last night?". it's in their self titled album WZRD. The song is sung by the lead vocalist and rapper Kid Cudi.
  • Jay from PaMy girl, my girl, don't you lie to me, tell me where did you sleep last night... if that doesn't clearly indicate that she was cheating or at least that he suspected her of just that, I don't know what more to say... The fact that Leadbelly is black, his (not her) body was found, and that another version uses "black" as attribute, doesn't make it a lynch song. Come on, people.
  • Derek from Who Cares?, DcNo matter how many times I hear it, Cobain's screaming "shiver" sends chills down my back.
  • Michael from Skokie, IlThis song is absolutely NOT about cheating. Nothing to do with it. It is about a black woman getting lynched.
  • Alexandria from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emiratesi cant believe no one has brought up the fact that robert plant has covered this song!
    but,of course,nirvana's version more than amazing
    Kurt Cobain-the greatest of the greats!
  • Scott from Boston, MaNirvana's version was by far Kurt's greatest vocal performance IMO. His screaming at the end still gives me goosebumps.
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkIn the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" young Loretta Lynne sings this on her daddy's front porch as her future husband "Dew" is bringing back the body of his former moonshine-running partner.
    I always thought the song was a jealous man who drove his woman from the house in a fit of rage. He's found dead and all she can say is she spent the night in the hills afraid to go home.
  • Dan from Parsippany, NjHad anyone been in the room with me when I watched Nirvana's performance of this on the day I found out Kurt was dead, they would've seen a 19-year-old male cry. More than a decade later, I still get choked up. It's that powerful.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScIf you want you can find Leadbelly's version on a website called www.publicdomain4u.com. You have the option of listening to it or downloading it. Either way it's great.
  • Rocco from Naples, ItalyPlayed nirvana's version at a birthday party in 1997 with an extemporary blues band formed by three guitarists:i played acoustic guitar and was the lead singer...memories of a time when i could have been a musician and not a lawyer as i am today...
  • Jolene from Melbourne, AustraliaI've never heard the original but Cobain's version was heartbreaking to listen to. Probably my fav song from the unplugged album.
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