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Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man

GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett 12 Dec 07 - 11:50 AM
Mr Happy 12 Dec 07 - 12:34 PM
Joe Offer 12 Dec 07 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett 12 Dec 07 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett 12 Dec 07 - 02:15 PM
12-stringer 12 Dec 07 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,DWR 12 Dec 07 - 02:54 PM
Mr Happy 13 Dec 07 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett 13 Dec 07 - 04:56 PM
Joe Offer 13 Dec 07 - 06:45 PM
GUEST 25 Apr 13 - 08:32 AM
Jim Dixon 25 Apr 13 - 06:52 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 11:50 AM

Hey, can someone please tell me the lyrics to the RR song, If I Die A Railroad Man. It was recorded by RCA Victor in the early 1900's.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: Mr Happy
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 12:34 PM

"If I die a railroad man,
Go bury me under the tie,
So I can hear old Number Four,
As she goes rolling by."

"If I die a railroad man,
Go bury me under the sand,
With my pick and shovel at my head and feet
And a nine-pound hammer in my hand"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 01:08 PM

Cohen's Long Steel Rail mentions the song twice, but does not have lyrics. It was on RCA Victor LPV 532, The Railroad in Folksong - I sure with that album were available on CD.
Mr. Happy, where did you get the lyrics you posted? Is that the complete song?
Recording is available at Honking Duck - gee, maybe they have the whole album. I can't pick out the lyrics very well.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 01:58 PM

I checked honking duck but they don't have lyrics and I tried listening to the song but they told me, "SORRY WE DON'T HAVE THAT ONE." I have a recording of it but I can not make out the words well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 02:15 PM

Those are not the right lyrics. It goes sort of like this.

Railroad is spanish? cars on the track?
take my girl to germany and it'll never bring her back.

Fare thee well my darling fare thee well my dear.
Fare thee well my darling I cannot leave you here.

The last verse goes,
If I die a railroad man bury me beneath the ties
so I can hear old number 9 as she goes rolling by.


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I DIE A RAILROAD MAN
From: 12-stringer
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 02:16 PM

Here's three versions, all closely related and set to the same melody:

Tenneva Ramblers, "If I Die a Railroad Man," Victor 21406, rec 18 February 1928:

Railroad is finished, cars on the track
Take my girl to Cuby, and'll never bring her back.

chorus:
Fare you well, my darling, fare you well, my dear
Fare you well, my darling, I hate to leave you here.

See the engine coming, coming around the bend,
Puffing and a whistling, with a load of soldier men.

chorus

If I die a railroad man, bury me beneath the tie,
So I can hear old Number 9 as she goes rolling by.

chorus

When I go to Germany, I'll hear the cannons roar
Fare you well, my darling, I'll think of you no more

chorus

Now I'm goin' to Germany, I won't be back till fall
And if I see the Kaiser, I won't be back at all

chorus

[nb, this is from the track issued on 78 RPM; the "Railroad in Folksong" LP cut was an unissued take)

Green Bailey's version, "If I Die a Railroad Man," on Gennett 6732 (recorded 1 December 1928), is very similar but missing all the "Germany/Kaiser" language

Railroad is finished, cars on the track
Take my girl to Texas, I'll never bring her back.

chorus
Fare you well, my darling, fare you well, my dear
Fare you well, my darling, I hate to leave you here.

I see the train a-coming, coming around the bend
Puffing and a whistling, with a load of railroad men.

chorus

If I die a railroad man, bury me under the tie
So I can hear old Number 9 as she goes rolling by.

chorus

When I ride old Number 9, I'll hear the whistle blow
Fare you well, my darling, I'll think of you no more.

chorus

When I go to Texas, I won't be back till fall,
And should I wreck old Number 9, I won't be back at all.

chorus


And for good measure, Dock Boggs' "Cuba," recorded 26 July 1966 and released on his 3rd Folkways LP; reissued on "Dock Boggs: His Folkways Years" (2 CD-set).

Take me over to Cuby, I'll cross the waters o'er
Take me away to Cuby, you'll never see me more.

I go to Cuby, I'll cross the waters wide
I go to Cuby, I'll marry me another bride.

Railroad is finished, cars on the track,
Take me away to Cuby, they'll never bring me back.

Engineer blows the whistle, fireman rings the bell,
Brakeman takes the ticket, conductor's drunk as [blank].


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 02:54 PM

Sorry, no lyrics, but I did post the complete notes from RCA Victor LPV 532, The Railroad in Folksong in this thread http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=21019

That may be of some interest.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: Mr Happy
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 09:48 AM

Joe,

Its from here @displaysong.cfm?SongID=3244
John Henry 2, last two verses


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 04:56 PM

The song sounded more like this.

Railroad is finished, cars on the track
Take my girl to Germany, and I'll never bring her back.

chorus:
Fare you well, my darling, fare you well, my dear
Fare you well, my darling, I hate to leave you here.

See the engine coming, coming around the bend,
Puffing and a whistling, with a load of soldier men.

chorus

If I die a railroad man, bury me beneath the tie,
So I can hear old Number 9 as she goes rolling by.

chorus

When I go to Germany, I'll hear the cannons roar
Fare you well, my darling, I'll think of you no more

chorus

Now I'm going to Germany, I won't be back till fall
And if I see the Kaiser, I won't be back at all

chorus

I am listening to the record "The Railroad In Folksong" right now and I am listening to the song and taking the words from the song that you thought they were and it had a few differences. If you want the record, just look in record shops, or get on Ebay.com and look.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 06:45 PM

That's an interesting discovery, Mr. Happy. The DT Song is #35 H (John Hardy) from Folk-Songs of the South, by John Harrington Cox (1925). The song was contributed by Profesor J.H. Combs, West Virginia University, April 30, 1924. Obtained in Knott County, Kentucky.

I'd never seen a mixing of "John Hardy" and "John Henry," but Cox cites several examples. But at the end of #35 H, there are the two verses Mr. Happy cites:
    "If I die a railroad man,
    Go bury me under the tie,
    So I can hear old Number Four,
    As she goes rolling by."

    "If I die a railroad man,
    Go bury me under the sand,
    With my pick and shovel at my head and feet
    And a nine-pound hammer in my hand"
They don't fit the meter or the sense of the rest of the song, but there they are. Great find, Mr. Happy.

-Joe-
The Tenneva Ramblers transcription from 12-Stringer is exactly what I hear on the recording at Honking Duck.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Apr 13 - 08:32 AM

I had the RCA Victor Railroad in Folksong album as I child and I adored it. But as an English boy I couldn't understand the accents and I thought the song went:

Railroad is smellin'
Frog upon the track.

Oh dear!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Die A Railroad Man
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Apr 13 - 06:52 PM

I just listened to The Tenneva Ramblers' recording of IF I DIE A RAILROAD MAN, via Spotify. It's on CD "D" in the various-artists 4-CD set "Worried Blues," but I figure it must ultimately come from the same original 78-rpm recording that both 12-stringer and Jonathan Hewlett transcribed above.

The only point where the two transcriptions differ is verse 1, line 2, and I must say I agree with 12-stringer, not Mr. Hewlett.

By the way, I figure "Cuby" is a dialectical or local pronunciation of "Cuba" and probably refers to one of the American towns named after the island in the Caribbean. There are towns named Cuba in Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, and West Virginia.


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