According to, John Lee Hooker began his recording career in 1948. This is year he is credited for recording his classic rendition of “Hobo Blues.” My lack of knowledge today prevents me from knowing whether “Hobo Blues” is an original but the song fits John Lee Hooker perfectly.

This song, along with “Boogie Chillen’,” depict a certain kind of relationship a boy has with his mother. The biography of John Lee Hooker has him running away from the home of his mother and stepfather—and the song “Hobo Blues” has a mother following a run-away son to “that freight train yard.”

John sings about his mother praying for him in that yard, which can imply that John’s character in the song was hiding in one of the box cars listening to her. When she repeats in her prayer like a mantra, “You know he’s travelin’, Lord”—this reminds me of the church song recorded by researcher Alan Lomax. The women sing, “I am traveling… trying to make heaven my home…”

All of this drama and depth in “Hobo Blues” is often lost because of lack of knowledge and even people of African descent unable to understand what this Blues man from Mississippi is saying! So we present here, in the kinté space, our rendition of the lyrics to “Hobo Blues” to shares the deep blue soul. You can measure exactly how far we stray from John Lee’s words by listening to him sing it himself.


Words and Flow by . . . . . . . John Lee Hooker