JOHN HENRY 2
When John Henry was a little babe,
A-holding to his mama's hand,
Says, "If I live till I'm twenty-one,
I'm going to make a steel-driving man, my babe,
I'm going to make a steel-driving man."
When John Henry was a little boy,
A-sitting on his father's knee,
Says, "The Big Bend Tunnel on the C. & O. Road
Is going to be the death of me, my babe," etc.
John he made a steel-driving man,
They took him to the tunnel to drive;
He drove so hard he broke his heart,
He laid down his hammer and he died, my babe, etc.
O now John Hardy is a steel-driving man,
He belongs to the steel-driving crew,
And every time his hammer comes down,
You can see that steel walking through, etc.
The steam drill standing on the right-hand side,
John Henry standing on the left;
He says, "I'll beat that steam drill down,
Or I'll die with my hammer in my breast," etc.
He placed his drill on the top of the rock,
The steam drill standing close at hand;
He beat it down one inch and a half
And laid down his Hammer like a man. etc.
Johnny looked up to his boss-man and said,
"O boss-man, how can it be?
For the rock is so hard and the steel is so tough,
I can feel my muscles giving way."
Johnny looked down to his turner and said,
"0 turner, how can it be?
The rock is so hard and the steel is so tough
That everybody's turning after me."
They took poor Johnny to the steep hillside,
He looked to his heavens above ;
He says, "Take my hammer and wrap it in gold
And give it to the girl I love."
They took his hammer and wrapped it in gold And gave it to Julia
Ann; And the last word John Hardy said to her Was, "Julia, do the
best you can."
"If I die a railroad man,
Go bury me under the tie,
So I can hear old Number Four,
As she goes rolling by."
"If I die a railroad man,
Go bury me under the sand,
With my pick and shovel at my head and feet
And a nine-pound hammer in my hand"
Contributed by Professor J. H. Combs, West Virginia University,
April 1924. Obtained in Knott County, Kentucky.
from Folk-Songs of the South by Cox
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