The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #156699   Message #3693641
Posted By: GUEST,BobJovi
13-Mar-15 - 11:29 AM
Thread Name: Origins: City of New Orleans
Subject: Origins: City of New Orleans
Can someone help me out? I am once again singing "City of New Orleans" with my students. I am not singing it the way I learned it as "freight yards full of old black men". Instead, I am substituting "grey" for black, as the many versions that I have heard use that version--I thought I had misheard black years ago.

I went back recently and saw that Steve Goodman used the word "black", and thought he must have meant stained with coal dust or something of the like. Then I started looking into the history of the Pullman Porters, and learned that it was this profession that was responsible for the creation of a black middle class--at least according to Wikipedia.

I sometimes think about how homogenous we are becoming as a nation. Societally, we have turned John Henry into a white person, and I worry that we are currently in the process of doing as much with Martin Luther King. Am I doing a discredit to the intent of Steve Goodman's song by changing one word?