"The "Midnight Special" tune is, in part, a variant of the 1900 ragtime pop tune "Creole Belles.""
Strictly speaking of the Midnight Special's TUNE, I recently noticed the similarity with the old (19th century??) negro spiritual 'Let The Church Roll On'. The oldest recording seems to be made by the Norfolk Jubilee Quartet in 1926. Thereafter more versions/adaptations were made by the Carter Family, Mahalia Jackson, Flatt & Scruggs, Stanley Brothers, etc. Soundclips-a-plenty on Amazon.com
In my opinion, it seems likely that the aforementioned 'Creole Belles' AND 'Midnight Special' was derived from this spiritual. Lead Belly himself recorded his "Midnight Special" also in a gospelcontext with the Golden Gate's backing him in 1940.
Any comment on this? And does anyone knows perhaps when 'Let the Church Roll On' was first mentioned or published?