The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #5124 Message #29172
Posted By: Teru
24-May-98 - 07:26 PM
Thread Name: REQ/HELP African-American Railroad Work Songs
Subject: Lyr Add: JOHN HENRY 3^^
I have another version of the lyrics in my notebook. I am not sure where I found them.
Here are the lyrics:
1. When John Henry was a little baby
Sittin' on his papa's knee,
Well, he picked up a hammer and a little piece of steel,
Said "This hammer's gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord
Hammer's gonna be the death of me".
2. The captain said to John Henry
"I'm gonna bring that steam drill around
I'm gonna bring that steam drill out on the job
I'm gonna whop that steel on down, Lord, Lord
Gonna whop that steel on down."
3. John Henry told his captain
"Lord, a man ain't nothin' but a man
But before I let your steam drill beat me down
I'd die with a hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord
I'd die with a hammer in my hand."
4. John Henry said to his shaker
"Shaker, why don't you sing?
Because I'm throwin' thirty pounds from my hips on down
Just listen to that cold steel ring, Lord, Lord
Just listen to that cold steel ring."
5. Now the captain said to John Henry,
"I believe that mountain's caving in."
John Henry said right back to the captain.
"Ain't nothing but my hammer sucking wind, Lord, Lord,
Ain't nothing but my hammer sucking wind."
6. The Shaker said to John Henry
"I think this mountain's cavin' in!"
John Henry said to his Shaker,
"Man, that ain't nothin' but my hammer suckin' wind! Lord, Lord
That ain't nothin' but my hammer suckin' wind!"
7. The man that invented the steam drill
Thought he was mighty fine
But John Henry made fifteen feet
The steam drill only made nine, Lord, Lord
The steam drill only made nine.
8. John Henry hammered in the mountain
His hammer was striking fire
But he worked so hard, he broke his poor, poor heart
And he laid down his hammer and he died, Lord, Lord
He laid down his hammer and he died.
9. John Henry had a little woman
Her name was Polly Ann
John Henry took sick and went to his bed
Polly Ann drove steel like a man, Lord, Lord
Polly Ann drove steel like a man.
10. John Henry had a little baby
You could hold him in the palm of your hand
The last words I heard that poor boy say,
"My daddy was a steel-driving man, Lord, Lord
"My daddy was a steel-driving man."
11. They took John Henry to the graveyard
And they buried him deep in the sand
And every locomotive comes a-roaring by
It say, "There lies a steel-driving man, Lord, Lord
There lies a steel-driving man."
12. Well, every Monday morning
When the bluebirds begin to sing
You can hear John Henry a mile or more
You can hear John Henry's hammer ring, Lord, Lord
You can hear John Henry's hammer ring.
I have a book "Visiting World Folksongs" edited by Akira Ebato, Japanese music researcher, published in 1973. The author chooses "Yankee Doodle", "Oh My Darling Clementine", "Old Chisholm Trail", "Tom Dooley", "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", "Water Boy", "The Blue-tail Fly" and "John Henry" as American folksongs. He introduces only first verse of John Henry, but he writes a story of John Henry. Although the story is interesting, it is written in Japanese, I am afraid. It is difficult, even impossible for me to translate all into English. (I may be able to try to do.)
The author cites "Victor JET-7202" as an LP in which John Henry is recorded. He also cites "American Ballads and Folk Songs" (Lomax J & A; Macmillan, 1934), "Best Loved American Folk Songs" (Lomax A; Grosset & Dunlop, 1947), "The American Songbag" (Sandburg C; Harcourt, 1927) and "American Negro Songs" (Work JW; Theodore, 1948) as references.
I cannot send the tunes as attachments by E-mail, but I can send you the simple music sheet for this song by FAX. Please E-mail me your FAX number to <email@example.com>.
My message was a bit long. Sorry.
Teru (of Japan)