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Stewie Origins: Casey Jones (37) Lyr Add: CASEY JONES (John Koerner)^^ 27 Mar 00


CASEY JONES
(Traditional/arr J.Koerner)

Early in the mornin' it looked like rain
Round a bend came a passenger train
Under the cab was Casey Jones
A good engineer, but he's dead and gone
Hey, yeah, dead and gone
A good engineer, but he's dead and gone

Casey Jones was a brave engineer
He told his fireman not to fear
All he needed was water and coal
Put your head out the window see the drivers roll
Hey, yeah, the drivers roll
Put your head out the window see the drivers roll

Ain't it a pity, ain't it a shame
Some was a-crippled and some was lame
Some will never ride the road again
Six wheel driver had to take the blame
Hey, yeah, take the blame
That six wheel driver had to take the blame

Jago's daughter said before she died
'There's one more road I'd like to ride'
'Daughter, daughter what could that be?'
' Southern California or the Santa Fe'
Hey, yeah, the Santa Fe
Southern California or the Santa Fe

Jago's daughter said before she died
'There's two more drinks I'd like to try'
'Daughter, daughter what could that be?'
It's a glass of water and a cup of tea'
Hey, yeah, a cup of tea
A glass of water and a cup of tea

Jago's daughter said before she died
I'd fix the blinds so the bums can't ride
If ride they must, let 'em ride the rods
They can put their trust in the hands of God
Hey, yeah, the hands of God
They can put their trust in the hands of God

Get out the engine, get out the train
I will ride the road again
She's fast as lightning, smooth as glass
And ya gotta hold your hat when the engine goes past
Hey, yeah, the engine goes past
Ya gotta hold your hat when the engine goes past

Early in the morning it looked like rain
Round a bend came a passenger train
Ridin' the rods was hobo John
A good old rounder, but he's dead and gone
Hey, yeah, dead and gone
A good old rounder, but he's dead and gone

^^
Traditional, arranged and adapted by John Koerner. Copyright J. Koerner 1974.
Source: Spider John Koerner 'Stargeezer Red House RHR CD 84.
PS

This rollicking version of 'Casey Jones' is different from those in the DT. The closest text that I can find to this is one that Joe Hickerson sang on 'Drive Dull Care Away Vol 1' Folk Legacy FSI - 58. Hickerson noted that he did not recall a specific source, but that it was probably influenced by versions by Carl Sandburg, Furry Lewis, Mississippi John Hurt and Neil Rosenburg.

The structure of Hickerson's refrain differs slightly from the Koerner version and for his third and fourth verses, he sang:

Now Casey looked ahead and what did he see
Round the bend came the eight-eighteen
Casey said, 'Fireman you'd better jump
These two locomotives they are bound to bump

Shoulda been there for to see the sight
Jumpin' and yellin', black and white
Some were crippled and some were lame
But that six wheel driver had to bear the blame
Had to bear the blame
Had to bear the blame
That six wheel driver had to bear the blame

Hickerson does not have the great verse about 'the bums' nor the 'Get out the engine' one. He noted that there is another verse that he did not sing because 'to her dying day (November 21, 1958), Casey's widow 'had to deny on many occasions that she had ever had "another papa on the IC (or any other) line"'.

The Hickerson and Koerner versions share a couple of verses with Furry Lewis' 'Kassie Jones Part 2' and with the version in the Lomaxes 'American Ballads & Folk Songs'. My queries are these: where does the 'Jago's daughter' phrase (if that's how it's spelt) come from; and what is the source of Koerner's 'bums' and 'get out the engine' stanzas? He may have made them up himself - there is reference to adaptation, but that may refer only to the slight altering of the refrain. Does anyone know? Koerner's is a gloriously spirited rendition.

--Stewie.


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