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Lyr Add: Linin' Track

DigiTrad:
LININ' TRACK
WHITE COLLAR HOLLER


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Can you line up? / Linin' Track (6)
Eloise? (29)
Birmingham Track Lining Co.? (2)


Stewie 08 Mar 00 - 08:11 PM
GUEST,Barry Finn 08 Mar 00 - 09:14 PM
Mark Roffe 10 Mar 00 - 01:24 AM
Stewie 10 Mar 00 - 02:17 AM
Stewie 10 Mar 00 - 02:54 AM
GUEST,Barry Finn 10 Mar 00 - 09:17 AM
GUEST 16 Mar 00 - 02:23 AM
Snuffy 06 Dec 00 - 09:20 AM
Robin Tell-Drake 30 Jan 06 - 04:49 PM
12-stringer 30 Jan 06 - 05:25 PM
Barry Finn 31 Jan 06 - 10:52 PM
Robin Tell-Drake 08 Feb 06 - 01:53 PM
Joe Offer 21 Jun 20 - 01:03 AM
Jack Campin 21 Jun 20 - 09:43 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: LININ' TRACK (trad)^^
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Mar 00 - 08:11 PM

LININ' TRACK
(Traditional)

Ho, boys, is you right?
I done got right
All I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back

Chorus:
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em track
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em track
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em track
Let's see Eloise go linin' track

Down in the holler below the field
Angels are workin' on my chariot wheel

Chorus

Mary and the baby were settin' in the shade
Thinkin' of the money that I ain't made

Chorus

Well, I bin on the river, nineteen and ten
But I didn't have no women like the drivin' men

Chorus

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
He was battin' at the waves with a two-by-four

Chorus

Well if I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood

Chorus

Mary, Marthy, Luke and John
Well all them 'ciples now they're dead and gone

Chorus

Well you keep talkin' 'bout the break ahead
Ain't said nothin' 'bout my hog an' bread

Chorus

Ho, boys, is you right?
I done got right
All I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back

Chorus

Source: Transcribed from Koerner, Ray and Glover 'Blues, Rags and Hollers' Red House RHR CD 76. Their source was a Leadbelly recording on Stinson which 'was passed around quite a while before settling' into above.

A version appears in John A. Lomax & Alan Lomax 'American Folk Ballads' Macmillan 23rd Printing 1972 at page 14 under the title 'Tie-shuffing Chant'. The gang leader sings first line of each verse. The Lomaxes provided the following illuminating description of lining track:

'Tie shuffling' is the lining or straightening out of the railroad track. To understand the work-rhythm that forms the chant it will be necessary to describe Henry Trevelyan's section gang as it worked to the tune. Henry, the foreman, stooped over and squinted off down the shining rail; then stood up and bawled out directions to his gang in the impossibly technical language of the railroad. They, with heavy bars on their shoulders, trotted off down the track, jammed their lining bars down under the rail on the inner side, and braced against them. One of their number, a handsome yellow man, when he was sure they were ready to heave, threw back his head and sang. On the first and next to last beat of every verse, each man threw his weight against his bar; the refrain was repeated until Henry, who had kept his eye on the rail meanwhile, shouted his directions about the next 'johnnyhead'. At that signal, the song was broken off , the gang stopped heaving, and the whole scene was repeated a few yards on down the track.

Sounds a bit more organised that Utah Phillips' description of 'gandy dancing' on 'Irish banjos'!

The Lomaxes give other verses, some from Odum and Johnson's 'Negro Workaday Songs' Univ of NC Press. For example:

I got a woman on Jennielee Square
Ef you would die easy, lemme ketch you there

The reason I stay wid my cap'n so long
Ever' mornin' gimme biscuits to rear back on

July de red bug, July de fly
Ef Augus' ain' a hot month, lawdy, I pray to die

Went up de mountain, to de tip-top
See my baby do the eagle rock

PS
--Stewie.

^^


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 08 Mar 00 - 09:14 PM

Jack the rabbit said to Jack the bear
Can't you move it just a hair

See the captain sitting in the shade
He don't do nothing but he get's paid

God told Noah bout the rainbow sign
No more water but fire next time

Gone to town, goin to hurry back
See Corinna when she ball the jack

Rounder has a rerelease of "Railroad Songs & Ballads" with a version of this & the Library Of Congress has a few other field recordings other than what's been mentioned. The Buckingham Lining Bar Gang (I think that's what they're called) do a number of track lining songs while actually lining a set of tracks that they set up themselves. Not bad for a crew of maybe 11 where the youngster of the gang is in his late 60's. Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 01:24 AM

I thought that verse was more like:
Well, I bin on the river, nineteen and ten
They was workin' the women hard as the men

Mark Roffe


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: Stewie
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 02:17 AM

Mark,

That line is difficult to decipher from the recording. At first, I thought it was something like the line you have posted - I know a similar line from 'Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos'- but then I wasn't so sure. My hearing of it was influenced by someone's interpretation in a previous thread on this titled 'Eloise'. However, on further multiple listenings, I reckon you are right, even though the first part is terribly slurred. It could well be:

'But they didn't drive the women like they drived the men'.

Thanks, Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: Stewie
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 02:54 AM

But, then again, it could be 'They also drived the women liked they drived the men' which is closer to the usual line. It's possible that it's slurred on purpose.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 09:17 AM

"They was driving the women like they drives the men". They were giving the "vic's" equal treatment. BArry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 02:23 AM

In any case, they'se workin' damned hard.
Mark Roffe


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: Snuffy
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 09:20 AM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: Robin Tell-Drake
Date: 30 Jan 06 - 04:49 PM

I want to check: does it seem plausible that Leadbelly wrote this from scratch, rather than making his own nips and tucks to an old work song?

His estate and BMI seem to >claim that he did.

I'd found it on Belafonte's "Long Road to Freedom" collection and taken it for a railroad work song, as it suggests. Anybody know for sure?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: 12-stringer
Date: 30 Jan 06 - 05:25 PM

Not remotely likely Leadbelly wrote it "from scratch," though he standardized and popularized it. I suspect at least some of his songs were picked up while he was chauffeuring John Lomax on various field trips after he got out of Angola.

"Rock Island Line," e.g., was (according to Wolfe & Lornell's bio) learned at an Arkansas prison while he was on a trip with Lomax, though Leadbelly "quickly appropriated" it. He made it his own, of course.

The first recording of "Linin' Track" that I can see is a 1940 cut, with the Golden Gate Quartet, in Huddie's Victor session. I don't recall where/when the version led by Henry Truvillion was recorded but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if that's where Leadbelly learned the song. Despite the # of work songs in his later repertoire, he recorded none at all (except "Julie Ann Johnson") in his earlier sessions but did a few in a marathon 1935 session for Lomax in Connecticut, at the same time he was also recording for ARC in a stab at the commercial market, and added more as he became a fixture in the NY folk scene. That could just reflect the approach Lomax took to Leadbelly's repertoire at their earliest meetings, of course.

Bruce Jackson's Wake Up, Dead Man shows the persistence of these songs in the Texas prison tradition, well into the 1960s, but from the evidence of his discography, it's not clear how many Huddie learned personally while he was in jail vs how many he may have picked up from the Lomax' collection of field recordings. Naturally the copyright boys prefer a "Words & Music by" as opposed to an "Arranged & Adapted by" credit.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' track
From: Barry Finn
Date: 31 Jan 06 - 10:52 PM

I couldn't get the BMI link to work so I don't know what they claim to claim, everything they can I suppose. I have it recorded by J & A Lomax from Allen Prothero at the State Penitentiary, Nashville Tenn, 1933. The printed words in the refrain partly go, in case anyone's interested "See Eloise go lining track". I really doubt this is Leadbelly's song. Prior to 1940 this song was collected aside from the above, in Alabama from Henry Hankins by Herbert Halpert in 1939. The Lomaxs' recorded this from Black Samson, I believe in 36 or 37 but can't find anything else on where & when at the moment. A. Lomax & Zora Hurston recorded this from "Negroes" in northern Fla. in 1935. A note from J & A Lomax's 'American Ballads & Folk Songs' quotes 3 verses (of the same song) from Odum & Johnson's 'Negro Workaday Songs' 1926.

Hi 12 stringer. Lomax doesn't say much about Henry Truvillion & gang about his version in 'American Ballads & Folk Songs' but note the Dover Edition 1994 (if that's the copy you have it states "unabridged & unaltered republication of the work originally published by the Macmillan Company, NY, in 1934".

There are still old threads on this song. see "Eloise & "Who was Eloise". Still a good thread,,,,, after all these yrs.
Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' Track (from Koerner, Ray & Glo
From: Robin Tell-Drake
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 01:53 PM

Thanks much. For some reason I've been unable to find the Eloise threads, though I've tried.

Sorry for the busted link, I'll try to do it better:
http://www.jimvallance.com/01-music-folder/songs-folder-may-27/pg-song-aaero-hangman.html
but you can also copy the link location from the first one and then truncate the url after "html," and that should work too.

The substance of it is this: in 1987 Aerosmith used some bits of this song in an otherwise startlingly misogynist (but rousing) track. Then Leadbelly's estate appears to have come round and sued them over it. Given the history I was able to drum up by offhandedly asking a couple of folkies, I find it hard to imagine the case wasn't just thrown out of court, but this account by one of the Aerosmith collaborators has a decidedly rueful air about it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' Track
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 01:03 AM

Can'cha Line 'Em

DESCRIPTION: Work song/shout, with chorus, "Ho, boys, can'cha line em? (x3) See Eloise go linin' track." Many of verses are on religious themes ("If I could I surely would Stand on the rock where Moses stood"; "Mary, Marthy, Luke, and John, all... dead and gone")
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1933 (recording, Allen Prothero)
KEYWORDS: railroading work religious worksong
FOUND IN: US(Ap,So,SE)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Lomax-FSUSA 78, "Can'cha Line 'Em" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 14-17, "Tie-Shuffling Chant" (1 text with extra verses, 1 tune)
Cohen-LSRail, p. 646, "Track Linin'" (1 text)
Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 446, "Track Lining Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Courlander-NFM, p. 97, (no title, but compare "The Captain Can't Read" on the previous page) (1 text)
Darling-NAS, p. 328, "Jack the Rabbit" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Moses Asch and Alan Lomax, Editors, _The Leadbelly Songbook_, Oak, 1962, p. 86, 'Can't You LIne 'Em" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men (New York: Harper Perennial,1990 (paperback edition of J.B. Lippincott, 1935 original)), pp. 264-266, "Can't You Line It?" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #10070
RECORDINGS:
Henry Hankins, "Lining Track" (AFS 2946 A1, 1939; on LC61)
Lead Belly, "Linin' Track" (on ClassRR)
Allen Prothero, "Track-Lining Song" (AFS 179 A1; on LC8)
T. C. I. Section Crew, "Track Linin'" (Paramount 12478, 1927)
James Wilson and Group, "Can't You Line 'Em" (on VaWork)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" (floating verses)
cf. "Track Lining" (subject)
NOTES [175 words]: Since this is one of those wonderful songs that is "adapted and arranged" (usual translation: "completely fouled up") by the Lomaxes, I can't tell if it comes from the same roots as "Can't You Line It?" There are almost no similarities beyond the titles, but that doesn't mean much. - RBW
Looking at the lyrics of the Prothero field recording, they seem to have almost nothing in common with, "Can't You Line It?" as summarized in the latter's description. I'd guess the songs are, at best, distantly related. - PJS
The Darling "Jack the Rabbit" text looks rather different (indeed, the feeling is almost closer to "Grizzely Bear") -- but it has a line similar to this one, so I'm sticking it here for now, more in desperation than anything else.
Cohen's "Track Linin'" song also has the "Jack the rabbit" line, so it files here on hte same basis.
According to Cohen, this is one of only two railroad worksongs released on a commercial 78 (the other being "Section Gang Song"). He thinks they may be the earliest worksong recordings of any sort. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: LxU078

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Linin' Track
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 09:43 AM

A group of African-American men toured the UK a few years ago doing track-lining songs; if I remember right, they were all retired from doing it for real. They took their own sledgehammers and lengths of track on the tour, which must have made them really popular with the roadies. Whoever they were, they'd have been real experts on this.


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