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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Dale Rose Lyr Add: Some Carter Family songs. (48) Lyr Add: JIM BLAKE'S MESSAGE^^ 03 Oct 00


In another thread, SH asked for the lyrics to Jim Blake's Message. Since it is part of the Carter Family Decca recordings that Jim Dixon started here, I figured this was the place to put it. Note that in my last "thread killing" post of 3 May 2000, I said I would post any and all of the Decca recordings that anyone asked for.

Jim Blake's Message
as recorded by The Carter Family, June 17, 1937

"Jim Blake, your wife is dying!"
Went over the wires tonight
The message was brought to the depot
By a lad all trembling with fright
He entered the office crying
His face was terribly white
"Send this message to dad and his engine
Mother is dying tonight!"

In something less than an hour
Jim's answer back to me flew
"Tell wife I'll be there at midnight
I'm praying for her too."
I left my son in the office
Took the message to Jim's wife
There found the dying woman
Was scarce of breath and life.

O'er hill and dale and valley
Thunders the heavy train
It's engine is sobbing and throbbing
And under a terrible strain
But Jim hangs on to his throttle
Guiding her crazy flight
And his voice cries out in the darkness
"God speed the Express tonight!"

I telephoned the doctor
"How is Jim's wife?" I ask
"About the hour of midnight
Is long as she can last!"
In something less than an hour
The train will be along
But here I have a message
Oh God, there is something wrong!

The message reads, "Disaster!
The train is in the ditch
The engineer is dying
Derailed by an open switch."
And there's another message
To Jim's wife it is addressed,
"I'll meet her at midnight in Heaven
Don't wait for the fast Express!"

From Charles K. Wolfe: Jim Blake's Message is, according to Sara, from a ballet they got "out toward Kentucky." This performance, as well as a transcript and song history, is presented in Norm Cohen's 'Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong.' His research has dated the song to the 1890s, but no one seems to know if it was based on a true experience or not. A.P. copyrighted his version of the song on January 5, 1938 - almost six months after he recorded it.


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