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Why did John Henry hammer till he died?

DigiTrad:
HENRY THE ACCOUNTANT
JOHN HENRY
JOHN HENRY 2


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Little Hawk 18 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM
Rick Fielding 18 Jan 02 - 06:09 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jan 02 - 06:26 PM
wysiwyg 18 Jan 02 - 06:37 PM
Bill D 18 Jan 02 - 06:54 PM
catspaw49 18 Jan 02 - 06:59 PM
Tom French 18 Jan 02 - 07:12 PM
Nancy King 18 Jan 02 - 07:24 PM
wysiwyg 18 Jan 02 - 07:59 PM
Tom French 18 Jan 02 - 08:07 PM
53 18 Jan 02 - 08:11 PM
wysiwyg 18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM
wysiwyg 18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM
GUEST,Desdemona 18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jan 02 - 08:48 PM
Amos 18 Jan 02 - 08:50 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jan 02 - 09:06 PM
catspaw49 18 Jan 02 - 09:15 PM
CapriUni 18 Jan 02 - 10:35 PM
masato sakurai 18 Jan 02 - 10:57 PM
wysiwyg 18 Jan 02 - 11:11 PM
Rick Fielding 19 Jan 02 - 12:14 AM
Kaleea 19 Jan 02 - 12:26 AM
Bert 19 Jan 02 - 02:00 AM
DaveJ 19 Jan 02 - 04:39 AM
catspaw49 19 Jan 02 - 08:44 AM
Jeri 19 Jan 02 - 10:12 AM
catspaw49 19 Jan 02 - 10:59 AM
wildlone 19 Jan 02 - 01:32 PM
wildlone 19 Jan 02 - 01:49 PM
Don Firth 19 Jan 02 - 03:25 PM
Little Hawk 19 Jan 02 - 03:58 PM
catspaw49 19 Jan 02 - 07:24 PM
Amos 19 Jan 02 - 07:40 PM
Jeri 19 Jan 02 - 07:53 PM
catspaw49 19 Jan 02 - 08:06 PM
Little Hawk 19 Jan 02 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,pelrad 19 Jan 02 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,Souter 20 Jan 02 - 12:47 AM
CRANKY YANKEE 20 Jan 02 - 02:55 AM
John MacKenzie 20 Jan 02 - 05:41 AM
Little Hawk 20 Jan 02 - 02:30 PM
Hollowfox 20 Jan 02 - 09:10 PM
catspaw49 21 Jan 02 - 12:13 AM
Little Hawk 21 Jan 02 - 12:48 AM
catspaw49 21 Jan 02 - 12:53 AM
wysiwyg 21 Jan 02 - 09:10 AM
Gegenhuber 21 Jan 02 - 10:42 AM
Little Hawk 21 Jan 02 - 12:12 PM
Ned Ludd 21 Jan 02 - 06:46 PM
leprechaun 21 Jan 02 - 08:22 PM
Gegenhuber 22 Jan 02 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 23 Jan 02 - 01:13 PM
Little Hawk 23 Jan 02 - 03:37 PM
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Art Thieme 07 Oct 02 - 10:49 AM
GUEST 29 Aug 05 - 12:08 AM
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Lighter 12 Sep 19 - 11:22 AM
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Subject: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM

Having seen all the interesting comment that came in on the Barbara Allen thread, I figured this question would be a good one to toss out there too...

John Henry could have just hammered faster than the steam drill for a minute or two, but quit before dying. He could have accepted the fact that a brainless machine can go all day and a man can't, but he didn't. Whaddya think about that?

Go to it.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 06:09 PM

"Cause "....he laid down his hammer and he died", sings a lot better than "...He layed down his hammer and took a little break".

Marvin Lomax


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 06:26 PM

Aw, Rick, don't get sensible on us... :-)

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 06:37 PM

... because he couldn't hammer AFTER he died?

~S~


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 06:54 PM

LOLOLOL.... the right answers, on the first two posts!


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 06:59 PM

Why didn't the psychotic astronaut, Major Tom, not tell them to "Take this job and shove it." Why didn't the little voice inside Wiliiam Shatner not scream to him, "You can't fockin' act!!!!"?????

Folk is filled with unanswerable questions Hawk. What the hell was Aunt Rhody's goose doing standing on it's head anyway? How come those damn brambles are growing out of graves? Don't anyone know how to take care of a cemetery? And, considering the known quality of the roadbed and the gradient and his lack of familiarity with the engine, why should they demand the engineer get her into Spencer on time?

So many questions........Who gives a shit?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Tom French
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 07:12 PM

It's a matter of heart!

Nobody lives beyond what they stand for.

If they did their best, someone will take up the cause. If you love John Henry, he didn't die.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Nancy King
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 07:24 PM

I thought it was Joe Hill that didn't die. Hmm, same initials...


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 07:59 PM

Hardi asks me to post on his behalf (too damned lazy to cookie his ass up) that he always thought the hammer was a metaphor for sex.

Therefore....

~S~


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Tom French
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:07 PM

Hardi, if you don't cookie your ass up off the floor there ain't gonna be no sex, and John Henry's gonna win that one too!


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: 53
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:11 PM

he just hammered his ass into the ground and when you're in the ground, you're dead.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM

WE HAVE A WINNER! TOM FRENCH!!!! THE WINNER AND CHAMPEEN!

Hardiman has not had a day off since.......... or a good laugh either! Ya really got him! He's still laffin! Can't mandolineate atall at the moment!

Thankyouverymuch!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM

(sputtering)


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM

Because it was there. Obviously.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:48 PM

Ha! Ha! Ha! This is getting pretty good...

Spaw - You have asked several really quite stimulating questions...each one of which deserves an entire thread of its own, which further convinces me that launching this thread was a timely and excellent notion.

Major Tom was motivated by patriotism, honor, and a sworn sense of duty to NASA. William Shatner heard destiny knocking. Did he shrink? Did he quail? No! He did the courageous thing and took the "bull" by the horns, despite his obvious lack of acting ability. The rest is history.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Amos
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:50 PM

Because, if you read the damn words, he promised the Capn that he would!! He was making a powerful point which you, Little Hawk, of all people, should have appreciated. He said to the Capn, "a man ain't nothing but a man..." the implicit affirmation of which is a gamble that to honor his word, he could drive the merely material body beyond its physical limits rather than be beaten by the steam engine; the final proof, in plain action, that the immortal spirit is more powerful than any contraption of flesh OR steam.

Geez, LH, don't you unnerstan ANYTHING??? I'm gonna send you back to TM 101 for a review of basics!!

***BSEG***

A


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 09:06 PM

"Big Silly Evil Grin"???? You make a compelling case there, Amos. You may yet earn yourself a free course at the WSSBA...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 09:15 PM

Look Hawk, Shatner didn't take the bull by the horns....more like he took a chicken up the ass. And THAT was after he finished turning a trick on Aunt Rhody's goose.................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: CapriUni
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 10:35 PM

Re: about Aunt Rhody's Goose: Call it the "folk process" (helped along, perhaps, by the fact that this song is taught in elementary schools). I learned the lyric as:

"She died with an achin' in her head"

I suppose geese can have brain aneurisms, too....

As for John Henry: 1) it's a romantic notion in folklore to die for what you believe in, and JH believed that humanity was more important than a machine. 2) Barring romantic notions, I'd say it was a case of overblown male pride. He didn't plan on dying, but once the adreniline started mixing with the testosterone, his only thought was "winning the race", and he wasn't paying attention to the signals his body was sending him, telling him to Stop!


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 10:57 PM

In one version ("one of the first black-derived versions to reach print"), John Henry foretells his death:

John Henry said to his Cappun: "Boss,
A man hain't nothin' but a man,
An' 'fore I'll be beat in dis sexion gang,
I'll die wid a hammer in my han'."

(Charles K. Wolfe, ed., Thomas Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes, 1990 [originally 1922], p. 89)

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 11:11 PM

Brain bleeds in poultry? Uusally caused by a nick to the brain, through the opened beak.

Mmmm!!!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 12:14 AM

People, People, People...oh the humanity! Please stop trying to turn this serious thread by a mudcatter who takes life pretty seriously into one of those dumb Shatner rambles.

Little Hawk. I apologize. Let me give your question another try. In the book "Searching for the REAL John Henry" by folklorist and pastry chef Vermin Le Sourise, there appears this hitherto unknown verse:

"John Henry swung his 9 pound hammer.
But his weak heart gave out and he fell dead.
So let that be a lesson to all steel drivin men,
Never go to work without your meds, lord lord.
Never go to work without your meds."

Glad to have been of help.

rick


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Kaleea
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 12:26 AM

Must we catters bring the poor ma-LINGNED Bill SHAT-ner ...INTO....the...CON....ver SA...TION!!!!!!!!!!!!!? And for the record, my cousin is actually named John Henry, he is still alive, and only on occasion hammers. Perhaps we should give in and have a permanent Shatner thread!


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Bert
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 02:00 AM

Back in the late Fifties, a guy named Terry Golden ran a series of articles on American Folksongs in the "Sets in Order" square dance magazine.

He did some research on each of the songs and his research on John Henry suggested that he didn't die during the contest but, after beating the steam hammer (Which kept jamming) retired and leved to a good old age.

But that doesn't make much of a song either.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: DaveJ
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 04:39 AM

Well if the hammer is a metaphor for sex, at least he died with a smile on his face.

Dave J


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 08:44 AM

Well I don't buy it......the sex thing. Unless his sex life was really bad and I can't imagine this guy not being able to attract women, then the jackhammer analogy just don't wash.

The Shakers were celibate and at their village in Kentucky, the buildings were all made of stone which they quarryed from the river cliffs. NOW IF someone were to write a sing about Shaker men carving out rock with their "tools" (which were probably hard enough to cut diamonds), THEN I might buy the sex angle.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 10:12 AM

To lapse into seriousness for a moment (please forgive me): The Origins of John Henry. There seem to have been at least two John Henrys. One died, one didn't.

There were probably more than two...


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 10:59 AM

What? Okay....you're forgiven. The thread seems a bit buggered though.

Spaw


I un-buggered it. (That'll teach that Jeri person what can happen when one is serious, eh!?) --JoeClone


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wildlone
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 01:32 PM

Did someone mention
William Shatner
dave


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wildlone
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 01:49 PM

I found this site John Henry
dave


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 03:25 PM

Obsessive-compulsive?

Din Firth


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 03:58 PM

Har! Har! So Shatner was into flogging Vic-20's for awhile. That is SOOO perfect!

You know, I have to say that I am awed and humbled by Mudcat. Let me explain...I set out some time ago to make William Shatner an icon on this discussion forum. I concocted a series of inane running jokes about Shatner and posted them. I dropped Shatner's name into threads where it in no way belonged. I did bizarre and shameless things in my effort to immortalize Shatner on Mudcat.

Why? Well, maybe I was bored...or maybe it's just the awesome charisma of the guy..."To boldy go where no man has gone before..." Woof! Stirring stuff, eh?

Anyway, it's been just over a year and...nummerous other people are now dropping William Shatner's name in threads where he doesn't belong.

My objective has been achieved!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I thank you, and the WSSBA thanks you.

Gotta love the Mudcat. Now, back to John Henry...!!!

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 07:24 PM

No surprise there Hawk and I congratulate you. I'm thinking of closing the NYCFTTS though and I hate to overload the Shatner group, so just giving you a possible heads up.

Why? Let's say fuck Neil, even in jest, and the friggin' crazy horse he rode in on. Hard to miss the irony of having the writer of "Ohio" involved in this shit:

People for the American Way, which once described the goal of the PMRC censors as "to bring children and parents together on music selection," gave Neil Young its Spirit of Liberty award at a December 11 Beverly Hills banquet. Young used the occasion to proclaim his support of the USA/Patriot Act, which became law on October 26. "To protect our freedoms," Young said, "it seems we're going to have to relinquish some of our freedoms for a short period of time." I'm thinking of closing the NYCFTTS.

The CIA thing I joked about now sounds like an all too real possibility..........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 07:40 PM

Oh, no-o-o-o-o-o-o, Mister Hands!!

Why not just rename it??? Maybe the Artist-formerly-known-as-Neil-Young Center... or even, to revive the spirit of the thing, the Willie Nelson Center for the Terminally Screwed... WNCFTTS sounds almost as nice as the former acronym!!

Or something dashing like the Pancho and Leftie Left of Center from the Resuscitation of Terminally Screwed Characters?

But christ, Spaw, iffen you close it we'll have all the inmates coming back HERE!!

A


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 07:53 PM

Tin soldiers and Bush a-comin'
Got a good enough excuse
Civil rights aren't worth a damn when
Terrorists are on the loose...

Oy.
We DO need better security, but thoughts of possible paths this whole "Home Guard" thing might take give me the creeps.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 08:06 PM

I tink we'd all agree Jeri.....The "Patriot Act" is all too frightening and we have relinquished 200 years of hard fought civil rights. It's too easy to believe that everyone will act with good judgement when using their newfound powers, but the lessons of history and the ease with which power can now be abused is simply an unspeakable horror. The same could have been accomplished without sacrifice of liberties.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 09:43 PM

Authoritarian states have always suspended liberties on the excuse that they were doing it to protect against a foreign threat. It's the oldest trick in the book. I am very thankful to be in Canada...it may be boring, but at least it's relatively free and moderate so far. To put it another way...I have little reason to fear the national government in this country. I did not feel that way at all when living in the USA.

I have to say that I am very disappointed in Neil Young too.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: GUEST,pelrad
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 11:52 PM

If it's a sex analogy, the jackhammer makes perfect sense. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: GUEST,Souter
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 12:47 AM

I know what you mean, Little Hawk. I love New York, can't imagine living anywhere else, but the situation in this country is really starting to scare me. At least Canada has free health care.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 02:55 AM

After wading through all the bullshit, I'm not sure that the originator of this thread has the patience to get this far. But, here goes anyway.
Leadbelly told me once that John Henry was a huge man (Leadbelly was no midget by any means) he was ambidextrous and swung a hammer with each hand (one handed) alternating between right and left. I don't know if this is fact or fancy, but the following is what I found with some serious research when I was a lot younger and REALLY cared about such things. This was about 55 years ago.

John Henry was a steel driver, a man who drove star drills into solid rock with a hammer. These holes were for the purpose of setting dynamite charges (or black powder) to carve railroad tunnels out of mountains. This is still the way it's done. Next time you're on an Interstate Highway, pay attention to the drill marks on the sides of "rock cuts" A good powder man doesn't wast the explosives and there WILL be drill marks on the rock faces. Which has nothing to do with this. As it says in the ballad, John Henry and the other steel drivers were faced with obsolescence by the invention of the steam drill, a predicesor of the jackhammer which is a compressed air machine and much more versatile and mobile than the steam drill.

John Henry was working for the Chesapeak and Ohio Railroad which was droilling a tunnel through a place called "Big Bend". I don't remember if it was in Ohio, Virginia or where. Anyway, they did set up a contest between John Henry and the steam drill after Mr Henry said that he could drive steel faster than any soulless machine. The steam drill wasn't all that fast, not as fast as the phnuematic Jack Hammer, by any means. But, it was a hell of a lot cheaper than hiring a lot of steel drivers and shakers. It could drill at about the same speed as any above average steel driver. John Henry drove his star drills a total of fifteen feet in the alloted time, and, the steam drill only drovce it's drills nine feet. Joh Henry we4nt home to his wife, ate supper, went to bed, and died of a cerebral haemmorage that night. That's what I can remember about the research I did more than half a century ago.

As I've said many times before, "don't depend on what ANY so called expert tells you, ESPECIALLY ME. Do your own research. It's a fascinating story, about a very real man in a very real contest with automation. It, automation, is the very real cause of unemployment.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 05:41 AM

'Cos a man's gotta do, what a man's gotta do. So there!


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 02:30 PM

Well, thanks, CRANKY YANKEE, for a very thorough explanation of what occurred with John Henry! I actually do have the patience to wade through all the BS, in fact I enjoy it.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Hollowfox
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 09:10 PM

I think Cranky Yankee touched on the nub of the matter; if he lost, he and all the steel drivers like him were out of a job, so it was a matter of survival for him to win. Mechanization meant job loss.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 12:13 AM

Actually Crank, in Hawk's case, I'm surprised he waded through the real stuff to get to the BS!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 12:48 AM

You know me too well, Spaw!

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 12:53 AM

Yeah I do and I still luvya Hawk....Ain't that a bitch?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 09:10 AM

That's funny, I saw it the same way.

Hey LH. You and Hess gotta come down here in the spring. The Mudcat guest rooms include one separate from the main house, a freshly-finished, never-had-a-cat, hypoallergenic dorm.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Gegenhuber
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 10:42 AM

This is a subject close to my heart -- thanks Cranky Yankee, wherever you are.

When I first started getting into old folk/blues in earnest, it struck me that the "take" on John Henry I was hearing was usually very different from the one I'd learned in elementary school. To my ears, Mississippi John Hurt's "Spike Driver Blues" or the various versions I know of "Nine Pound Hammer" are NOT about the noble manual laborer being replaced by soulless mechanization. Rather, they're seem to me to be about how shitty manual labor really is. The songs are, if anything, warnings or complaints that if you keep pounding these spikes by hand, you're gunna wind up like John Henry. "Take this hammer and carry it to my captain. Tell him I'm gone."

I think it's spectacularly interesting to see a kind of silent debate over the meaning of the John Henry story. Mostly white-collar, northern folk aficionados (like myself), who can some muster nostalgia for hard labor, just don't think about the story the same way as people like John Hurt, who was probably pretty glad to put down the shovel and get shipped off to New York to do concerts for college kids. This goes to the heart of who the "Folk" really are, who speaks for them, and . . . uh, all that, blah blah, you're bored already.

Oh, and I love what Gillian Welch did with John Henry in that Elvis song.

Kurt "it won't kill me" Gegenhuber


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 12:12 PM

Interesting viewpoint, Kirk.

Thanks for the invitation, Susan!

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 06:46 PM

He was a Luddite Martyr and a HERO! The General


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: leprechaun
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 08:22 PM

Yes but Jackhammer John was a jackhammer man, born with a jackhammer in his hand. (Lord, Lord, I got them jackhammer blues) He's a hammerin' man from a hammerin' town; gonna hammer on hammer till the sun goes down. (Lord, Lord, Lord I got them jackhammer blues) Got a jackhammer gal as sweet as pie, gonna hammer on a hammer till the day I die...

What's with these hammerin' guys and dying?

And by the way where's WYSIWYG? Anywhere near Yellowstone?

Kevin


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Gegenhuber
Date: 22 Jan 02 - 03:17 PM

Why did John Henry hammer till he died, you ask? Well, this was before ergonomically correct hammers, you see.

Kurt "this is the keyboard that killed John Henry" Gegenhuber


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 01:13 PM

Actually he wasn't hammering to beat the steam drill. He was hammering to cover up the sound of the banjo.

CC


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 03:37 PM

LOL! No doubt.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: GUEST,garst@chem.uga.edu
Date: 05 Oct 02 - 10:23 AM

Serious reply, my best inference:

John Henry was motivated by pride (he was a champion steel driver in contests with other men), gain (the Captain had offered him $50 and a new suit of clothes if he won), and love (he and the Captain had been close for many years, back in Mississippi, where they both grew up - the Captain treated him like a son).

He didn't intend to die, of course, but he had had a recent heart attack (that's when "Polly Ann drove steel like a man") and from the exertion of the contest a weakened section of the wall of his heart gave way - he suffered a ventricular rupture and bled out over the course of a half hour or so.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Oct 02 - 10:49 AM

...because his mother told him that hammering on certain other things'd make him go blind !!!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 12:08 AM

SEND - "Little Hawks" postings into a quaranteen area - until clones can censor his fixation.


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: GUEST,ToledoJack
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 12:29 AM

C'mon now - them stories aint real...

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood,
Big John, Superman, Paul Bunyan & Babe The Blue Ox, George of the
Jungle, Tarzan, Jack & The Bean Stalk --- them are all just made up stories


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 02:18 AM

But why did the "un-buggered thread" (catspaw49 19 Jan 02 - 10:59 AM) get re-buggered and now needs to be de-buggered?


I got very confused here, with things that didn't seem to have proper context. As it was mostly Spaw, Lhawk, etc., it wasn't completely unexpected, but looking at the order of posts it seems that it's a random universe at best.

First column, numbered in order of apparent time of original post.
Second column, numbered in order listed 29 AUG 2005.
I'm not sure that the order of listing is consistent from one visit to the thread to the next??


1        1        Little Hawk        18 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM
2        2        Rick Fielding        18 Jan 02 - 06:09 PM
3        3        Little Hawk        18 Jan 02 - 06:26 PM
4        4        WYSIWYG        18 Jan 02 - 06:37 PM
5        5        Bill D        18 Jan 02 - 06:54 PM
6        45        catspaw49        18 Jan 02 - 06:59 PM
7        6        Tom French        18 Jan 02 - 07:12 PM
8        7        Nancy King        18 Jan 02 - 07:24 PM
9        8        WYSIWYG        18 Jan 02 - 07:59 PM
10        9        Tom French        18 Jan 02 - 08:07 PM
11        10        53        18 Jan 02 - 08:11 PM
12        11        WYSIWYG        18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM
13        12        WYSIWYG        18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM
14        13        GUEST,Desdemona        18 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM
15        14        Little Hawk        18 Jan 02 - 08:48 PM
16        15        Amos        18 Jan 02 - 08:50 PM
17        16        Little Hawk        18 Jan 02 - 09:06 PM
18        17        catspaw49        18 Jan 02 - 09:15 PM
19        18        CapriUni        18 Jan 02 - 10:35 PM
20        19        masato sakurai        18 Jan 02 - 10:57 PM
21        20        WYSIWYG        18 Jan 02 - 11:11 PM
22        51        Bert        19 Jan 02 - 02:00 AM
23        52        DaveJ        19 Jan 02 - 04:39 AM
24        53        catspaw49        19 Jan 02 - 08:44 AM
25        23        Jeri        19 Jan 02 - 10:12 AM
26        24        catspaw49        19 Jan 02 - 10:59 AM
27        21        Rick Fielding        19 Jan 02 - 12:14 AM
28        22        Kaleea        19 Jan 02 - 12:26 AM
29        25        wildlone        19 Jan 02 - 01:32 PM
30        26        wildlone        19 Jan 02 - 01:49 PM
31        27        Don Firth        19 Jan 02 - 03:25 PM
32        54        Little Hawk        19 Jan 02 - 03:58 PM
33        28        catspaw49        19 Jan 02 - 07:24 PM
34        29        Amos        19 Jan 02 - 07:40 PM
35        30        Jeri        19 Jan 02 - 07:53 PM
36        31        catspaw49        19 Jan 02 - 08:06 PM
37        32        Little Hawk        19 Jan 02 - 09:43 PM
38        42        GUEST,pelrad        19 Jan 02 - 11:52 PM
39        41        CRANKY YANKEE        20 Jan 02 - 02:55 AM
40        35        John 'Giok' MacKenzie        20 Jan 02 - 05:41 AM
41        43        GUEST,Souter        20 Jan 02 - 12:47 AM
42        44        Little Hawk        20 Jan 02 - 02:30 PM
43        33        Hollowfox        20 Jan 02 - 09:10 PM
44        46        WYSIWYG        21 Jan 02 - 09:10 AM
45        47        Gegenhuber        21 Jan 02 - 10:42 AM
46        34        catspaw49        21 Jan 02 - 12:13 AM
47        36        Little Hawk        21 Jan 02 - 12:48 AM
48        37        catspaw49        21 Jan 02 - 12:53 AM
49        49        Ned Ludd        21 Jan 02 - 06:46 PM
50        48        leprechaun        21 Jan 02 - 08:22 PM
51        38        Little Hawk        21 Jan 02 - 12:12 PM
52        39        Gegenhuber        22 Jan 02 - 03:17 PM
53        40        GUEST,Chicken Charlie        23 Jan 02 - 01:13 PM
54        50        Little Hawk        23 Jan 02 - 03:37 PM
55        55        GUEST,garst@chem.uga.edu        05 Oct 02 - 10:23 AM
56        56        Art Thieme        07 Oct 02 - 10:49 AM
57        57        GUEST        29 Aug 05 - 12:08 AM
58        58        GUEST,ToledoJack        29 Aug 05 - 12:29 AM


(Not real pretty, but I ain't gonna make a table just to straighten it up.)

John


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Subject: RE: Why did John Henry hammer till he died?
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Sep 19 - 11:22 AM

Wile not directly connected to John Henry, the Pittsfield (Mass.) Sun (May 1, 1851), indicates the capabilities of steam drills even before the Civil War:

"The public papers a few days since gave an account of the work and working on a tunnel near Black Rock, N.Y. By working night and day with three shifts of hands, working with a steam drill, they made two feet progress in twenty-four hours."


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