Cotton Fields is a great song for beginner ukulele players. It only has three chords and an easy strum.

Some boys at my primary school in Papua New Guinea had a ukulele band, and Cotton Fields was one of their most popular songs. I used to watch these local musical stars from afar and wish I could join in.

I never dreamed Cotton Fields was so easy to play!

Here’s a link to my Youtube video showing how to play Cotton Fields.

Cotton Fields was written in the 1930s by the great African American songwriter Huddie Ledbetter, also known as Lead Belly (1888-1949).

Other famous songs by Lead Belly include Goodnight Irene, Rock Island Line and The Midnight Special.

The name of the song refers to the cotton plantations, which were the mainstay of the economy of the American south until the 1920s.

Around 1915 the cotton boll weevil caused economic devastation in the region. Huge numbers of African American sharecroppers suddenly found themselves out of work and were forced to leave their homes and move to northern cities to find employment.

Cotton Fields has been recorded by many famous musicians, including the Beach Boys and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

If you’d like to find more three chord songs to play, here’s a link to my blog post about great three chord songs: Three chord magic.

Hi, I’m Alice

I’ve been in love with the ukulele since my mother, Sue, taught me three chords when I was six.

I teach ukulele to adult learners all over the world via Zoom and Skype. If you happen to live in Hamilton, New Zealand, I also teach group ukulele classes.

You can find out about my group classes by clicking here.

Click this link to book online ukulele lessons with me. $US160 for six half-hour lessons.

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Alice Bulmer music
Photographed by Brooke Baker

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