Nine Pound Hammer

By Merle Travis

Travis2Merle Travis was virtually without peer as a guitarist and songwriter. A unique stylist, he was respected and prominent enough to have an instrumental style ("Travis picking") named after him. As a songwriter, he wasn't far behind, with originals such as "Sixteen Tons" crossing over as popular standards in the hands of other artists. Credited with playing a role in the development of rock & roll, he was no slouch as a recording artist, with his own share of chart hits and novelty songs. With thanks to Bruce Elder from

—Many of the songs selected for this feature are available from the Labor Heritage Foundation at