The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116137   Message #2508655,2508655
Posted By: Richie
05-Dec-08 - 10:54 AM
Thread Name: Origins: The authors of the 'Carter Family songs'
Subject: Lyr Add: LITTLE BLACK TRAIN
Little Black Train is a tradition gospel song dating back to the late 1800s (Cohen) and was first recorded (4 times) in 1926 by the redoutable Rev. J.M. Gates and later by various hillbilly artists, including Henry and Emry Arthur in 1928. The Carters did not record it until 1935, and 2 copyrights (1935 and 1937) were taken out in the Carters' names!

The story of Hezekiah's bout with sickness, God's threat, Hezekiah's repentance, and Isaiah's promise of fifteen additional years of life is told in 2 Kings 20:1-11 (repeated almost verbatim inIsaiah 38) and briefly summarized in 2 Chronicles 32:24-26.

There are numerous versions in the DT so I'll just post the Carters and one by Dock Boggs that's not in the DT.

It was collected in 1922 by Brown. According to Dorothy Scarborough who printed a version in 1925:

"A more sinister aspect of train-arrival is in another Holy Roller song from Texas. The little black train here represents Death, and the passengers for whom seats are reserved appear not to be crowding eagerly about the ticket window. This train had no schedule, but, like other public carriers, is uncertain in its time arrival and departure. But a delay here brings forth no complaints against the management."

Other names include: "Gospel Train," "Gospel Train Is Coming"
"Death's Black Train Is Coming." "Little Black Train Is A-Comin'"

LITTLE BLACK TRAIN- Dock Boggs

God sent to Hezekiah
A message from on high,
"You better set your house in order,
For you must surely die."

He turned to the wall in weeping,
We see him there in tears,
He got his business fixed all right,
God spared him fifteen years.

There's a little black train a-coming,
Fix all your business right.
There's a little black train a-coming,
And it may be here tonight.

Go tell that ballroom lady
All dressed in the worldly pride
That death's dark train is coming,
Prepare to take a ride.

I see that train with engine
And one small baggage car.
Your idle thoughts and your wicked deeds
Will stop at the judgement bar.

There's a little black train a-coming,
Fix all your business right.
There's a little black train a-coming,
Prepare to take a ride.

That poor young man in darkness
Cared not for the gospel light
Till suddenly he heard the whistle blow
And the little black train in sight.

"Oh Lord, will you not spare me?
I see my wicked plight.
Have mercy, Lord, upon me,
Please come and set me right."

But death had fixed its shackles
Upon his soul so tight,
Before he got his business fixed
The little black train in sight.

There's a little black train a-coming,
Fix all your business right.
There's a little black train a-coming,
And it may be here tonight.


The Little Black Train- Carter Family

There's a little black train a comin'
Set your business right
There's a little black train a comin'
And it may be here tonight

Go tell that ball room lady
All dressed in the worldly pride
That death's dark train is coming
Prepare to take a ride

God said to Hezekiah
A message from on high
You better set your house in order
For you must surely die

He turned to the wall in weeping
We see him here in tears
He got his business fixed all right
God spared him fifteen years

We see that train with engine
And one small baggage car
Your idle thoughts and wicked deeds
Will stop at the judgment bar

That poor young man in darkness
Cares not for the gospel light
'Til suddenly he heard the whistle blow
And the little black train in sight

Have mercy on me lord
Please come and set me right
Before he got his business fixed
The train rolled in that night