Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: Wabash Cannonball

DigiTrad:
WABASH CANNONBALL


Related threads:
(origins) Story Behind Wabash Cannonball & Claxton (59)
Help: Wabash Cannonball - no changes will be taken (11)
(origins) Origin: Wabash Cannonball - meaning (38)
Lyr Req: Hey Art! The Wabash Cannonball . (7)
Oldest publication(ca1910) of Wabash Cannonball (4)


TonyK 14 Nov 98 - 11:16 PM
15 Nov 98 - 12:33 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 15 Nov 98 - 02:19 AM
15 Nov 98 - 03:58 PM
Art Thieme 15 Nov 98 - 06:55 PM
harpgirl 15 Nov 98 - 07:45 PM
Art Thieme 15 Nov 98 - 09:25 PM
Art Thieme 15 Nov 98 - 09:36 PM
gargoyle 15 Nov 98 - 10:52 PM
Dale Rose 15 Nov 98 - 11:41 PM
Dale Rose 15 Nov 98 - 11:49 PM
TonyK 16 Nov 98 - 12:29 AM
Art Thieme 16 Nov 98 - 12:42 AM
Bob Schwarer 16 Nov 98 - 07:09 AM
Bill in Alabama 16 Nov 98 - 07:29 AM
Peter T. 16 Nov 98 - 01:35 PM
Bill in Alabama 16 Nov 98 - 02:01 PM
Dale Rose 16 Nov 98 - 02:01 PM
Bill in Alabama 16 Nov 98 - 02:11 PM
Dale Rose 16 Nov 98 - 02:14 PM
Barry Finn 16 Nov 98 - 02:34 PM
Peter T. 16 Nov 98 - 03:02 PM
Bill in Alabama 16 Nov 98 - 03:19 PM
gargoyle 17 Nov 98 - 12:12 AM
gargoyle 17 Nov 98 - 12:27 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 18 Nov 98 - 02:53 AM
18 Nov 98 - 04:14 AM
Peter T. 18 Nov 98 - 10:42 AM
Bruce O. 18 Nov 98 - 04:21 PM
Barbara 18 Nov 98 - 09:53 PM
Barbara 18 Nov 98 - 09:54 PM
Dale Rose 19 Nov 98 - 12:11 AM
CarterNut 19 Nov 98 - 12:49 PM
Bruce O. 19 Nov 98 - 01:36 PM
Art Thieme 19 Nov 98 - 04:03 PM
Dale Rose 19 Nov 98 - 04:09 PM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 07 - 09:08 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Oct 07 - 10:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Oct 07 - 11:40 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 05 Oct 07 - 11:44 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Oct 07 - 01:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Oct 07 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,van wanderer 08 Jan 11 - 04:45 PM
Mark Ross 08 Jan 11 - 05:54 PM
mayomick 09 Jan 11 - 02:16 PM
olddude 09 Jan 11 - 02:19 PM
mayomick 09 Jan 11 - 02:32 PM
Reiver 2 09 Jan 11 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,jediiladi-Minnesota 13 Jun 11 - 12:16 PM
GUEST 27 Aug 11 - 12:33 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Wabash Cannonball
From: TonyK
Date: 14 Nov 98 - 11:16 PM

Is this song about more than just a train? Seems to me I heard somewhere that it has another meaning related to hobo life.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From:
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 12:33 AM

Various versions DO MENTION HOBOs
that ride the RODS and BRAKE BEAMS
and the LONESOME HOBOs call.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 02:19 AM

The Wabash Cannonball is a fictitious train going over a fictitious route. It might have been written in to praise the countryside of America. (and Daddy Clayton, whoever he is.)

As the song says, the train is a "regular combination".

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From:
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 03:58 PM

Also, a "Combination" referred to a particular locomotive wheel arangement. I don't know if there is any connection.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 06:55 PM

The version I put on an LP is one from Paul Durst, a 93 year old (at the time) Wobbly and hobo fiddler I made some tapes of in 1961. His version said, "Here's to Montana Whitey--may his name forever stand, And always be remembered by the 'bos around the land..."

Also:
"We'll ride rhe rods & brakebeams..."

also:
"from the rocky coast of Oregon to ice-bound Labridor..."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: harpgirl
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 07:45 PM

It is too a real train. I rode on it from Lafayette to Indianapolis by myself when I was five years old. My grandmother told me it was the Wabash Cannonball!!!!! harpgirl


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 09:25 PM

Originally the song WAS a contrived song about a mythical train that would go anywhere the guys needed to go. It was invented by the knights of the road. The song got so popular among the hobos riding the rods that, eventually, the Wabash Railroad named their crack run after it. The train became popular also. Right now I'm looking at an old schedule for the train on that line. Eastbound, it left St. Louis at 9:15 AM daily. Went through (with stops in) Decatur, Danville, Lafayette, Logansport, Peru, Huntington, Fort Wayne, Toledo and Detroit. Westbound, it left Detroit at 8:00 AM and arrived in St. Louis at 4:20 PM.

Another text variation says:
"We'll ship him off to hell on the Wabash Cannonball."
(THE HOBOS HORNBOOK by Geo. Milburn--1930)

Paul Durst's version also had this variation: "There's a train of "doozy" layout, quite well known to all..."
The "Deusenberg" was a classy auto in the early days of the 20th century.---The song seems to date from the days after the Civil War--when all the guys and gals came home & couldn't find work. This was a cheap way to get from a place of no work to a place where they might find some sort of job. But the automobile reference sort of dates this verse to the 1920s and 30s--a depression version.

Another of Paul's variations was:

This train she runs through Quincy, Monroe and Mexico,(Missouri),
Heads into Kansas City--she isn't runnin' slow,
Heads on into Denver and makes an awful squawl,
They all know her by her whistle, it's the Wabash Cannonball.
If you connect the dots on the map between the towns above, you'll draw a line through the Midwest---but a totally different route than that of the actual W.C.

( All the engineers, like the great pilots on the rivers, had very distinctive ways of blowing their whistles in the days of steam.)
Paul's version is available on cassette only now (by me) "On The Wilderness Road"--C-105(I think) Folk Legacy Records...

{another version soon--from Paul Durst}

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 09:36 PM

Hey, Harp, hello!

I forgot to mention that Bruce U.Utah Phillips rode the LAST ride of the Wab. Cannonball---in the 1970s I believe. By then it was on a different railroad---not the Wash Road. He got off the train just below Champaign, Illinois---in the town of Tolono. On one of his Philo Lps he did "Wab.Cannonball" in tandem with his own song, called "Tolono"---about the sadness of that last run/ride on the Wabash Cannonball...

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: CANNON BALL TO HEAVEN
From: gargoyle
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 10:52 PM

Undoubtably, one of my all time favorites. Give me goose-bumps. A swinging beat in 2. A foot stomper if ever there was one. This rendtion, also called "Cannon Ball to Heaven is from: Song in America by Burl Ives 1962 Wayfarer Music company:

(This was perhaps the first song I searched for on DT.(four years ago?)



Cannon Ball to Heaven

From the waves of the At-lan-tic to the wild Pacific shore.
From the coast of Cal-i-forn-ia to ice-bound Lab-rador.
There's a train, a super fli-er, O, hear her thrill-ing call,
"All a board, ye tired ho-boes, It's the Wa-bash Can-non Ball."

O, listen to the rumble, O, listen to the roar,
As she echoes down the valley and tears along the shore.
Hear the engine thrunder, hear her mighty whistle call;
There's mulligan in the club car of the Wabash Cannon Ball.

All the greatest cities, we'll pass through on our way:
Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Santa Fe,
Springfield and Decature, Saint Louis, Montreal;
Through Mobile and Chattanooga on the Wabash Cannon Ball.

A fond farewell to Memphis, Atlanta, Mexico,
Dallas and El Paso, boys, we won't be goin' slow,
The mighty Rocky Mountains, where rushing waters fall:
There'll be no bulls or brakemen on the Wabash Cannon Ball.

There are other places, partner; we will give a final look
To Terre Haute and Dayton, Kansas City, Keokuk.
Like a flash we'll travel upward, out of sight the earth will fall,
As we travel straight to glory on the Wabash Cannon Ball.

On arival at the station, this train will not be late
To attend Saint Pete's reception just beside the pearly gate;
"Well done, my faithful servants," we'll hear the Master call,
"Welcome to all passengers of the Wabash Cannon Ball."

O, listen to the rumble, O, listen to the roar,
As she echoes down the valley and tears along the shore,
Hear the engine thunder, hear her mighty whistle call;
There'll be rejoicing in the club car of the Wabash Cannon Ball.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: TOLONO (Utah Phillips)
From: Dale Rose
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 11:41 PM

Art's comments inspired me to whip out my Utah Phillips CD and scan the lyrics to Tolono, one of the great songs on a great album. Every home needs one of these.

TOLONO
Bruce Phillips

I was headed for Tolono on the Wabash Cannonball,
Norfolk and Western all the way,
St. Louis down the line
Detroit somewhere behind,
I thought I heard that old conductor say;

Chorus:
No round trip ticket, you're on the final run,
This Cannonball is never coming back;
Tomorrow she'll just be
Another memory
And an echo down a rusty railroad track.

I got off at Tolono, just below Champaign,
A flag stop on the edge of yesterday;
The whistle blew a song,
I whispered "So long"
Waved my hand and slowly walked away

Chorus

I think about tomorrow and wonder why it is
We give up all the things we love the most.
Goodbye you old hog
I'll have to ride the dog
Until they build a subway coast to coast.

Chorus

From the notes to Philo CD 1004, Good Though, Bruce U. Utah Phillips, 1973/1997

Of course you all know about the Wabash Cannonball. What you may not know is that, after the initial popularity of the song, it became a real train run by the Wabash system between Detroit and St. Louis. Six years ago the Wabash system was bought up by Norfolk and Western who ran it into the ground. Finally, Amtrak took it off. I rode on the last run of the Cannonball from Detroit to Tolono — a flag stop five miles south of Champaign, Illinois. It was a fine run and only after I got off on that little windswept platform in the middle of the great American Nowhere did it finally hit me that the Cannonball would not he coming hack. So I sat fight down that night and made up this farewell.

"Tomorrow she'll just he another memory and an echo down a rusty railroad track."

Look friend; the great trains are dying. You read about it in your paper over breakfast coffee. There goes the Cannonball. There goes the Montreal Limited. There go the City of New Orleans and the Portland Rose. All gone. But don't mourn them. That kind of gigantic earth-striding energy cannot sustain itself forever There are too many of us. Our lives are compressed and encapsulated. Wings carry us to places that look every day more and more like each other Down below, pathetic remnants of once living iron creep with ponderous slow majesty through our haunted frontiers, tragic, poetic, gone forever But don't mourn them. Rather, mourn the passing of their orphaned children. The ragged, shambling brutish shadows dodging through the rusty silent yards, their single and truest voice the sobbing loneliness of a Midnight Ghost wailing through dark frozen bills. Rather mourn the passing of the last free men. And remember how it is with them —true freedom begins with the passing of joy. There are other things I'd like to say and sing about. Maybe when I'm out around where you are, I'll have a chance to do just that. But for now, this is the best I can do. Maybe I've said too much, hut I don't think so. If anything, I hope we've been able to share something together That's good enough.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Dale Rose
Date: 15 Nov 98 - 11:49 PM

he coming hack(be coming back)~~scanner problems that my proofreader did not catch. Sat fight down(sat right down)/frozen bills(frozen hills)~~same thing. Might even be more, but you get the picture.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: TonyK
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 12:29 AM

Thanks for the history. I thought the Wabash Cannonball was a euphemism.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: BUFFALO BILL^^
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 12:42 AM

Hell, this is turning into a good ol' thread, ain't it?

The song below has the tune of W.C. It was written about Paul Durst, the hobo I've been talking about in my postings here. Paul did this song for me in September of 1961. A friend of his wrote the song for and about him in California many years earlier. Paul, 93, born in 1868, (parents emigrated to USA in 1848 from Switzerland--settled in Wisconson 'cause it reminded them of their homeland) Paul accompanied Buffalo Bill to Europe as a part of Bill's Wild West Show. He had a beard much like Bill's so folks with the show nicknamed him Buffalo Bill---ie. the name of this song about Paul Durst was "BUFFALO BILL". When it was discovered that all of the show's cattle had "hoof & mouth disease", the cattle were killed by the authorities in Germany and the entire show came back to the USA, broke. Bill was re-financed by P.T. Barnum---and Paul went on the road as a migtratory worker, fiddler, hobo and a Wobbly organizer dedicated to organizing for his union. He told me they "organized" by asking riders in the boxcars if they wanted to become a Wobbly. If they said, "NO", the poor fellow would get tossed off of the moving train. Most guys--gals too--joined up on the spot!

BUFFALO BILL

I know an old time friend of mine who traveled the hobo way,
From coast to coast, through Canada, or so I heard him say,
He rode the rods, climbed high on top, caught many on the fly,
And cooked his meals in jungle style while watching the trains roll by.

These jungles were quite plentiful along most railroad tracks,
Where many boes were camping, some with bundles on their backs,
While coffee pots and kettles made out of old tin cans,
Were strung around the cooking place with many frying pans.

The reason for his roaming I will try hard to explain,
You see, those jobs were far apart and seasonal in the main,
For when the wheat was harvested the apples needed men,
This forced him to the hobo life with many of his kin.

Never underrate a hobo for he has wisdom too,
As the one that I am writing 'bout, he knows just what to do,
When times get tough you'll see him busy entertaining men,
With familiar lines of music played on his violin.

So come and see the double of old time circus Bill,
Drop in some nearby tavern where you'll surely get a thrill,
I know that he'll amuse you while fiddlin' on a string,
But don't forget some silver--just enough to make it ring.

This is the early history of one who went through the mill,
He's nicknamed in the cities by the name of Buffalo Bill,
You can find him now on skid row with a fiddle in his hand,
Travelin' up and down the coast, this happy smiling man.



...and if ya don't believe me, just check with Big Mick.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Bob Schwarer
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 07:09 AM

It is pure joy, to me, to ride or even just watch a steam locomotive. Watch the driving rods and valve gear doing their thing. A great machine. Not like these diesel-electrics that just sit and whine.

Worked on a steam thresher when I was a bit younger. Actually a thresher powered by a Case steam tractor. Didn't think it was much fun then, but I'd sure like to do it again.

Bob S.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 07:29 AM

My grandad was a telegrapher, and I spent a great of deal of time around depots and tiny mountain RR stations as a child. Grandpa had many tales about encounters and friendships with hoboes, but what I remember best is lying abed in the mountain nights and listening to the trains straining up the grades and blowing for the many trestles and tunnels which marked the Appalachian railroads. Sitting on the front porch in the evening, Grandpa and his brother, Uncle Charlie (also a telegrapher), could identify many of the engineers by their signature whistles as they blew for the half-mile tunnel through Rockyface Mountain near our home. Those whistles echo in my memory now as they echoed in the hollows then. Feeling nostalgic this morning.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 01:35 PM

Gentlemen (and ladies), it is a privilege to sit by the pot-bellied stove, and listen to this thread. I have a really stupid question, born of being a landlubber (?) and foreigner. Is there a place called Wabash to or from which the Cannonball cannonaded? Or is it located on the Big Rock Candy Mountain?

Yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 02:01 PM

Wabash, Indiana, in Wabash County


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: WABASH CANNONBALL
From: Dale Rose
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 02:01 PM

Well, sorry that I did not check the DT, but Tolono was already listed. The only difference was that I changed the wording to agree with the way Utah sang it, as there are a few small differences. And of course, now you have his nifty notes.

I did notice that the version of the Wabash Cannonball given in the DT, was a later version which looked to be taken from Roy Acuff, who first recorded it about 1936. The Carter Family recorded it in 1929, but interestingly enough, Ralph Peer did not think much of it, and did not release it until 1932! Sara said she learned it from "a ballet down in Tennessee." The song had been published in sheet music in 1905, with composer credits to William Kindt. Knoxville singer Hugh Cross recorded the song a few months before the Carters. (Information paraphrased from the CD liner notes to Rounder 1066, volume 3 of the complete Carter Family Victor/Bluebird recordings.)

I transcribed the song exactly as sung, though there are a couple of obvious errors in her wording. In the last stanza, she pronounces equal as eqal.

Wabash Cannonball
William Kindt, 1905 (as sung by The Carter Family, 1929)

Out from the wide Pacific to the broad Atlantic shore
She climbs a flowery mountain, o'er hills and by the shore
Although she's tall and handsome and she's known quite well by all
She's a regular combination, on the Wabash Cannonball.

Oh, the Eastern states are dandy, so the Western people say
Chicago, ol' Rock Island, St. Louis by the way
To the lakes of Minnesota where the rippling waters fall
No chances to be taken on the Wabash Cannonball.

Chorus
Oh, listen to the jingle, the rumor and the roar
As she glides along the woodland, o'er hills and by the shore
She climbs the flowery mountain, hear the merry hobo squall
She glides along the woodland, the Wabash Cannonball.

Oh, here's old daddy Cleaton, let his name forever be
And long be remembered in the courts of Tennessee
For he is a good old rounder 'til the curtain round him fall
He'll be carried back to victory on the Wabash Cannonball.

I have rode the I.C. Limited, also the Royal Blue
Across the Eastern countries on the Elkhorn Number Two
I have rode those highball trains from coast to coast that's all
But I have found no equal to the Wabash Cannonball.

Chorus


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 02:11 PM

Wabash, Indiana, in Wabash County; I think it's on the Wabash River


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Dale Rose
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 02:14 PM

Concerning Bill's comment, there is a picture and a few lines of commentary done as part of a school project by a group of fourth graders about their hometown of Wabash, Indiana. They also took the photographs for the project.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Barry Finn
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 02:34 PM

Dale didn't Roy have a hard time spitting out the word Wabash, Wab Wab, Wab Wab the whistle you love the Streamline Canonball. OK that was bad I'll go away. Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 03:02 PM

Thanks Dale and Bill, I am suitably abashed (doesn't rhyme with Wabash). What a great looking train on that Web site! Pays to advertise....

Yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 16 Nov 98 - 03:19 PM

NOW I remember-- in the late 1800's there was an incredibly popular song "On the Banks of the Wabash" written by Paul Dresser, brother to novelist Theodore Dreiser. As sheet music sales went, it was probably top twenty quality--not that any of that is relevant to the discussion. It's on the Levy site.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: gargoyle
Date: 17 Nov 98 - 12:12 AM

Had an uncle (actually, my mother's second cousin - but he was much older so we called him uncle) that would stop by our house as he came in from ramblin round the globe.

He told the most amazing tales. Some of my favorites were about his hoboing days (ran away from the chores at home at age twelve and did not return until he was 15) The stories included riding the rods on a board stretched under the cars....cooking in the Arizona heat while trapped three days in the uppper ice section in the roof of a box car....and being frozen, roasted, and pelted by cinder rock as he rode beneath the cowcatcher of a night frieght.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: gargoyle
Date: 17 Nov 98 - 12:27 AM

From The National Hobo Assoication

So Just What Is a Hobo?

At the end of the Civil War, many veterans had no homes to return to and many took to wandering the countryside looking for possible work. Many of these early wanderers sought work as migrant farm workers and many of them carried work implements, such as hoes, along with them. It is thought that they were originally nicknamed 'hoe-boys' and the term later shortened to 'Hobo'.

As the nation expanded westward, the railroads needed laborers to set ties and lay the tracks and the hobo played a vital role in those activities. During the great age of dam-building, i.e. The Tennessee Valley Authority, The Columbia River Basin as well as The Missouri River Drainage Projects, the hoboes formed the nucleus of the hearty travelling work forces that constructed these giant structures often in remote areas whose only real access was by freight train. To feed a growing nation, the hoboes became the migrant harvesters who reaped the grain, cotton and fruits of mid-America often working a route that took them from the Texas Panhandle to the Canadian Border each season. In the post-war era of pipeline construction, the hobo became a vital element of that restless workforce who's very job progressed up to five miles per day as the gas & oil lines were layed.

Hoboes also sought work on American merchant ships and many a hobo maintained seaman's papers as an alternate employment source when the harvests were finished. Many hoboes became the lumberjacks of the Pacific Northwest. As the West became more settled, many of the emerging little towns' first citizens were people who worked their way west on freight trains...hoboes. Many orchards, vineyards and ranches of the American west were built by farsighted adventurous men who struck out from the crowded east on 'side door Pullmans' to seek their fortunes in the outlands. During the Great Depression of the thirties, a new surge of hoboes took to the rails in search of work. In 1934, the U.S. Bureau of Transient Affairs estimated there were 1.5 million men (and women) riding America's Freight trains.

THE HOBO HEART & SOUL

The keyword in describing the hobo is 'independence'. Unlike tramps or bums, the hoboes are usually very resourceful, self reliant and appreciative people. They display the quiet pride that comes from self confidence and the secure knowledge that they control their own destiny. As a group, they avoid long term work commitments, preferring to be free to follow the call of the open road when it comes. They are, in general, well read, artistic romantic and quick witted. They survive in hostile conditions that others would shun. They are creative, good natured and glib. They are NOT homeless. If they want a home, they'll get one when it suits them. The National Hobo Association is made up of thousands of these great people nationwide. Some have hoboed in their past, some are currently on the 'Hobo Road'. Some have never hoboed but share the same core beliefs and views; in short, they have a 'hobo heart'. We warmly welcome them to share our stew and fellowship.

Many of America's great people have come from the hobo ranks; Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Burl Ives, Pulitzer Prize Winner James A. Michener, Comedian Red Skelton, Attorney Melvin Belli, Country Artist Roger Miller, plus thousands more from lawyers to laborers. Many Fortune 500 Companies have a hobo at their helm.

But it's not about being rich or famous. It has to do with being a member of a unique group of people who value their personal freedom (and respect yours), appreciate our great land, long for new adventures and have faith in themselves. The hobo experience has taught people to 'paddle their own canoe' since the Civil War and that indomitable spirit is alive and well today....especially within The National Hobo Association!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 02:53 AM

Thanks for that fascinating post, gargoyle.

I always thought the word came from the French "Haut Bois" meaning "high wood" as did the word "oboe"; but I have to admit I had no reason for this suspicion.

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From:
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 04:14 AM

Anyone ever hear a version by Robert James Waller that puts the following two verses in the middle of a standard version of Wabash Cannonball:

Late night a call, spins down the wire
From a phone booth in North Carolina
Dialin' Seattle and talking to Annie
"Hello love I'm leaving for home to-night"
Its still 92 degrees here at 10 p.m.
And outside the big trucks are running
These green rolling hills are mighty pretty
But I'm lonesome for the Cascades and you.

Chorus

And I'll come rolling down the road
Out of Roanoke, Virginia
With the summer time ending, my thumb up in the air
Heading for Seattle, heading for Annie
Looking for the cascades, looking for home

I'm tired of the rednecks, I'm tired of the bars
And this ain't what I started out to do
And this five piece band is full of drunks and fools
And I'm lonesome for the cascades and you
I'm tired of the diners at 4 a.m.
And I'm tired of the bass player's runs
And I'm tired of the women who hang around the band
There ain't no future for them here

Chorus

Incidentally the verses he uses of Wabash are

From the Green Atlantic ocean to the wild Pacific shore
From sunny California to icebound Labrador
She's mighty tall and handsome and known quite well by all
She's a rugged combination called the Wabash cannonball

Listen to . . . etc

and at the end ......(after the above verses and chorus)

Here's to Daddy Claxton, may his name forever stand
And always be remembered in the glory of the land
When his earthly race is over and the curtain around him falls
Goin' to carry him home to victory on the Wabash Cannonball

Listen to . . . etc

I don't know who the guy is, but it is a stunning version of Wabash.

Paddy


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Peter T.
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 10:42 AM

er, of Bridges of Madison County infamy?

Yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Bruce O.
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 04:21 PM

Dale Rose's account is pretty close to that in Norm Cohen's 'The Long Steel Rail'. Cohen gives the 1882 song "The Great Rock Island Route" showing that Kindt's version, copyrighted June 13, 1904, "The Wabash Cannonball", was a modest reworking of the earlier one. (But the tune of the 1904 version was not that used later).

Another song along this line is Henry Clay Work's "Crossing the Grand Sierras on the Lightning Palace Train", 1870. [This is on the Levy sheet music website, and in 'Henry Clay Work: Songs', reprint, Da Capo Press, 1974]. The song an tune sounds like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan, but was composed a few years before Gilbert met Sullivan.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Tune Add: TOLONO (Utah Phillips)
From: Barbara
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 09:53 PM

Hi guys, here's the tune for Tolono from Utah's 1973 songbook, Starlight on the Rails.
Blessings,
Barbara

MIDI file: tolono.mid

Timebase: 240

TimeSig: 4/4 24 8
Tempo: 100 (600000 microsec/crotchet)
Start
0000 1 59 080 0096 0 59 064 0024 1 59 080 0288 0 59 064 0072 1 59 080 0288 0 59 064 0072 1 59 080 0096 0 59 064 0024 1 61 080 0192 0 61 064 0048 1 64 080 0384 0 64 064 0096 1 64 080 0096 0 64 064 0024 1 64 080 0096 0 64 064 0024 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 68 080 0288 0 68 064 0072 1 66 080 0768 0 66 064 0192 1 61 080 0384 0 61 064 0096 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 61 080 0096 0 61 064 0024 1 59 080 0768 0 59 064 0912 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 61 080 0096 0 61 064 0024 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 64 080 0576 0 64 064 0144 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 68 080 0576 0 68 064 0144 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 66 080 0288 0 66 064 0072 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 61 080 0192 0 61 064 0048 1 63 080 0192 0 63 064 0048 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 66 080 0768 0 66 064 1152 1 68 080 0384 0 68 064 0096 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 64 080 0552 0 64 064 0048 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 61 080 0096 0 61 064 0024 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 66 080 0576 0 66 064 0144 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 63 080 0192 0 63 064 0048 1 63 080 0192 0 63 064 0048 1 63 080 0192 0 63 064 0048 1 63 080 0192 0 63 064 0048 1 63 080 0192 0 63 064 0048 1 59 080 0192 0 59 064 0048 1 61 080 0096 0 61 064 0024 1 63 080 0288 0 63 064 0072 1 59 080 0768 0 59 064 0912 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 68 080 0192 0 68 064 0048 1 71 080 0192 0 71 064 0048 1 68 080 0576 0 68 064 0144 1 66 080 0192 0 66 064 0048 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 66 080 0288 0 66 064 0072 1 66 080 0288 0 66 064 0072 1 68 080 0096 0 68 064 0024 1 66 080 0576 0 66 064 0144 1 59 080 0096 0 59 064 0024 1 59 080 0096 0 59 064 0024 1 59 080 0192 0 59 064 0048 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 64 080 0096 0 64 064 0024 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 64 080 0192 0 64 064 0048 1 64 080 0768 0 64 064
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:
M:4/4
Q:1/4=100
K:C
B,B,3B,3B,|^C2E4EE|^F2^G2^F^G3|^F8|^C4E2E2|
^FE3E3^C|B,8|-B,6E2|^CE3E3^F|E6^F2|^G2^G2^G2^F2|
^G6^F2|^F^F3^F2^F2|^F2^C2^D2E2|^F8|-^F8|^G8|
-^G4^G2^G2|^FE5E2|E3^CE2^F2|^F6^F2|^D2^D2^D2^D2|
^D2B,2^C^D3|B,8|-B,6^F2|^G2^G2^G2B2|^G6^F2|
^F^F3^F3^G|^F6B,B,|B,2E2E3E|E3^FE2E2|E13/2||


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Barbara
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 09:54 PM

Incidentally, in this book here he calls it "No Round Trip Ticket".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Dale Rose
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 12:11 AM

Bruce, did the Cohen book give the words as written by Kindt? I would be interested in seeing them, if they were. In another thread, there is a discussion of whether Claxton as sung by Acuff, or Cleaton as sung by the Carters was in the original version. My guess is that is very likely neither one.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: CarterNut
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 12:49 PM

The Claxton in the song was Acuff, Roy "Claxton" Acuff. He said in a interview once before he died that he just slipped the name in. Also, as for the Carter Family's involvement with the song, AP Carter collected protions of this song on one of his "lyric hunting" trips with Leslie Riddle through the Clinch Mountains. What is the original and what is not we cannot tell from his version. The people of those mountains used to swear that they heard the whistle of the Wabash Cannonball as it "climbed the flowery mountains, over hills and by the shore."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Bruce O.
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 01:36 PM

Dale, yes, Cohen gives both the 1882 "Great Rock Island Route" (5 8-line verses) and Kindt's "Wabsh Cannonball" (3 8-line verses). Kindt's closely parallels the 1st three verses of the Rock Island Route song. There's no Daddy Claxton/Cleaton in these. Cohen doesn't give tunes for these.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Wabash Cannonball
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 04:03 PM

And, as I've said, the version I got from 93 year old hobo, Paul Durst, in 1961, says:"Here's to Montana Whitey..."

Paul said that he and Whitey were jumping a freight in the yards in Missoula, Montana in 1910 (Paul was already 42 years old) and Whitey lost his grip, fell, and was killed. Paul always put Whitey's name into the song, "just to remember him".
And that's how I always sang the song.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE GREAT ROCK ISLAND ROUTE!
From: Dale Rose
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 04:09 PM

With thanks to Bruce O, for pointing the way to the Great Rock Island Route, here it is, compliments of the Levy site. Those of you able to check the differences as far as the tune is concerned might want to go there and look at the sheet music. It is absolutely clear that Kindt lifted a good share of his words from this song, though it does sound pretty much like an advertising jingle for the Rock Island!

As a child, I often visited relatives, (a retired railroader in Minooka, Illinois) whose house directly faced the Rock Island tracks, with only a small road in between. At that time, most (if not all) of the freights were still steam powered, but the passenger trains were the brightly colored red diesels. Standing right between the road and the tracks and feeling the power as they went by is an experience never to be forgotten. Many years later when it became obvious that the Peoria Rocket and the Rock Island Rocket were soon to be no more, I thought about making plans to ride one of them just once, but I never did. By then those beautiful red "streamliners" were old and faded, but I still wish I had gone.

Here is a link to a picture of an old E-8A, restored to its former glory. Unfortunately, all too many looked almost as bad as this F-7A when the end was in sight. There is a lot more information and pictures at rock-island.org for those who might be interested.

THE GREAT ROCK ISLAND ROUTE!
words and music by J. A. Roff, 1882

From a rocky bound Atlantic, to a mild Pacific shore,
From a fair and sunny southland to an icebound Labrador,
There's a name of magic import and 'tis known the world throughout,
'Tis a mighty corporation, called the Great Rock Island Route.

    chorus
    Now listen to the jingle, and the rumble, and the roar,
    As she dashes thro' the woodland, and speeds along the shore,
    See the mighty rushing engine, hear her merry bell ring out,
    As they speed along in safety on the "Great Rock Island Route."

All great cities of importance can be found along its way,
There's Chicago, and Peoria and Rock Island so they say,
With Davenport, and westward still is Council Bluffs far out,
As a western termination, of this Great Rock Island Route.

chorus

To the great southwest another, and a mighty line they run,
Reaching far famed Kansas City, Leavenworth and Atchison,
Rich in beauty, power, and grandeur, and they owe it all no doubt
To the fact that they are stations on the Great Rock Island Route.

chorus

There's their "Northern Route," a daisy as you all can plainly see
To St. Paul, and Minneapolis, 'tis the famous "Albert Lea."
To the lakes of Minnesota, and all points there 'round about
Reached directly by no other, than the "Great Rock Island Route."

chorus

Now let music soft and tender, in its mystic power reveal
Praises to the "Great Rock Island," that the heart can only feel;
And to swell the mighty chorus--comes the glad re-echoing shout,
That for safety, time, and comfort, take the "Great Rock Island Route."

chorus


Roff wrote another song in 1883 entitled "A Famous Railway Line." Bet you can't guess what railroad it was about!

Click to play

(MIDI transcribed by Joe Offer from sheet music found at the Levy Sheet Music Website)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 09:08 PM

This seems to be the seminal thread on "Wabash Cannonball," so I thought I'd add the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Wabash Cannonball, The

DESCRIPTION: In praise of the amazing Wabash Cannonball, a train which can apparently accomplish anything. The song mentions various places the train visits and the impression it makes on the townsfolk. It may close with a eulogy for "Daddy Claxton"
AUTHOR: Original ("TheGreat Rock Island Route") credited to J. A. Roff; rewritten as "Wabash Cannon Ball," perhaps by William Kindt, who copyrighted it; Cohen suspects the rewrite preceded Kindt's 1904 publication, and common tune is not the same as either Roff's or Kindt's
EARLIEST DATE: 1882 (sheet music, as "The Great Rock Island Route"; first use of the "Wabash Cannonball" title is Kindt, in 1904)
KEYWORDS: train railroading travel
FOUND IN: US(SE,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Cohen-LSRail, pp. 373-381, "The Wabash Cannonball" (2 texts, one of them Kindt's, plus a text and sheet music cover of Roff's "The Great Rock Island Route," 1 tune)
Randolph 840, "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 385-386, "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 840)
Lomax-FSNA 220, "The Wabash Cannon Ball" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 462, "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 85, "Wabash Cannonball" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 100 "The Wabash Cannonball" (1 text)
DT, WABASHCB*

Roud #4228
RECORDINGS:
Roy Acuff & his Crazy Tennesseeans, "Wabash Cannon Ball" (Vocalion 04466/OKeh 04466/Conqueror 9121. 1938; Columbia 37008, 1946; rec. 1936) [despite the band title, Dynamite Hatcher sang lead on this recording]
Roy Acuff & his Smoky Mountain Boys, "Wabash Cannonball" (Columbia 37008/Columbia 37598/Columbia 20034, 1947) [Note: Some pressings of these issues used the Vocalion/OKeh master listed above]
Loy Bodine, "Wabash Cannon Ball" (Superior 2608. 1931)
Bill Carlisle, "Wabash Cannon Ball" (Decca 5713 [as Bill Carlisle's Kentucky Boys]/Melotone [probably Can.] 45326, 1939)
The Carter Family, "Wabash Cannonball" (Victor 23731, 1932; Montgomery Ward M-7444, 1938; Bluebird B-8350, 1940; rec. 1929)
Clark & Edans, "Wabash Cannonball" (Gennett, unissued, 1928)
Hugh Cross, "Wabash Cannonball" (Columbia 15439-D, 1929)
Delmore Brothers, "The Cannon Ball" (Bluebird B-7991, 1939; rec. 1938)
Roy Hall & his Blue Ridge Entertainers, "Wabash Cannonball" (Vocalion 04717/Conqueror 9230, 1938)
Bill Mooney & his Cactus Twisters, "Wabash Cannonball" (Imperial 1150, n.d.)
Morris Brothers, "Wabash Cannonball - No. 2" (Bluebird B-8252, 1939)
Pete Seeger, "Wabash Cannonball" (on PeteSeeger17)
Art Thieme, "Wabash Cannonball" (on Thieme04)
Doc Watson, "Wabash Cannonball" (on RitchieWatson1, RitchieWatsonCD1, ClassRR)
Mac Wiseman, "Wabash Cannonball" (Dot 1262, 1950s)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Gatesville Cannonball" (tune)
cf. "We Work for Hay and Company" (tune)
cf. "The Boys at Ninety-Five" (tune)
cf. "The Gospel Cannonball" (lyrics)
SAME TUNE:
"Hail! Ye Brave Industrial Workers" (Greenway-AFP, p. 178)
"We Work for Hay and Company" (File: FowL26)
The Grand Coulee Dam (by Woody Guthrie) (Greenway-AFP, pp. 292-293; DT, GRNCOULE)
Delmore Brothers, "New Wabash Cannon Ball Blues" (Bluebird B-8404, 1940)
Delmore Brothers, "Gospel Cannon Ball" (Decca 5970, 1941)
Charles Stowe, "Carolina Cannonball" (on OBanks1)
Boomtown Bill (by Woodie Guthrie) (on Keynote 5000, 1942?; in Archie Green, "Woody's Oil Songs," published in Archie Green, editor, _Songs about Work: Essays in Occupational Culture for Richard A. Reuss_, Folklore Institute, Indiana University, 1993, p. 213)
File: R840

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


The Detroit News reported that the last iteration of the Wabash Cannonball left Fort Street Union Station in Detroit for St. Louis in 1971. But was this Cannonball just a train named after the song, or was there an original Wabash Cannonball train? Well, it does seem there was a Cannonball at about the time the song was written by J.A. Roff in 1882. Here's what the News says:
    A Wabash timetable from 1888, calling the train the Omaha Cannonball, showed a route from St. Louis to Omaha. The name disappeared until an 1893 newspaper advertisement called it the Wabash Cannonball, traveling from Kansas City to St. Louis.
Oh - see the MIDI in the message above - it's quite different from the tune we know. So, where does our tune come from?
-Joe-

Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition:

WABASH CANNONBALL

From the great Atlantic ocean to the wide Pacific shore
From the green ol' Smoky mountains to the south lands by the
shore
She's mighty tall and handsome and she's known quite well by all
She's the regular combination on the Wabash Cannonball

Listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodland through the hills and by the
shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine, hear the lonesome hoboes call
You're traveling through the jungles on the Wabash Cannonball

Our eastern states are dandy, so the people always say
From New York to St. Louis with Chicago by the way
From the hills of Minnesota where the rippling waters fall
No changes can be taken on the Wabash Cannonball

Now here's to Daddy Claxton, may his name forever stand
And always be remembered through the courts throughout the land
His earthly race is over, now the curtains round him fall
We'll carry him home to victory on the Wabash Cannonball

@train
filename[ WABASHCB
TUNE FILE: WABASHCB
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:49 PM

Joe, that midi threw me- sounds like an old Civil War tune - can't think of the name (old age disease).

The score given by Cohen on p. 373 of "Long Steel Rail" sounds right- this was taken from the Delmore Brothers. Was this the same as the Carters' release of 1929?

Nice version by Vernie Westfall at American Memory, "Voices from the Dust Bowl."
Also Thompson, Judd and Wright, same collection.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: ADD Version: Wabash Cannonball (Carter Family)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 11:40 PM

WABASH CANNONBALL
(Carter Family)

Out from the wide Pacific to the broad Atlantic shore,
She climbs flowery mountains over hills and by the shore.
Although she's tall and handsome and known quite well by all,
She's a regular combination of the Wabash Cannonball.

Oh, the eastern states are dandy, so the western people say,
Chicago, Rock Island, St. Louis by the way,
To the lakes of Minnesota where the rippling waters fall,
No changes can be taken on the Wabash Cannonball.

Oh, listen to the jingle,
The rumble and the roar,
As she glides along the woodlands
Over hills and by the shore.
She climbs the flowery mountains,
Hear the lonesome hobo squall.
She glides along the woodlands,
The Wabash Cannonball.

(Instrumental break)

Oh, here's to Daddy Cleton, let his name forever be,
And long be remembered in the ports of Tennessee,
For he is a good old rounder till the curtain round him fall,
He'll be back carried to victory on the Wabash Cannonball.

I have rode the I. C. Limited, also the Royal Blue,
Across the eastern countries on mail car number two.
I have rode those highball trains from coast to coast that's all,
But I have found no equal to the Wabash Cannonball.

Oh, listen to the jingle,
The rumble and the roar,
As she glides along the woodlands
Over hills and by the shore.
She climbs the flowery mountains,
Hear the merry hobo squall,
She glides along the woodlands,
The Wabash Cannonball.

Carter Family Songs
Wabash cannonball


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 11:44 AM

Someone, above, offered that we should not mourn the passing of the great passenger trains. I heard that same refrain from a late uncle, who was a freight agent for the Santa Fe in Texas. I was a train lover. I had just come to visit him, in 1953, on the San Francisco Chief from California. The railroads were losing their mail contracts to the airlines. Passenger service had to be subsidized by the freight business. The railroads wanted to dump passenger service. Enter AMTRAK.

It all sounds like the same song we heard when complaining about the loss of standards in broadcast news. The entertainment division was subsidizing the losing news side. So, now we have the best news that advertisers can influence.

What I miss is the pace of life of an earlier time. The railroad songs appealed to nostalgic longings for a time before airplanes, television and technology accelerated us beyond our ability to cope with what we've created. There was time to reflect and to dream before we had "instant" news and three hour jet rides supplanted three day rail trips. I really do miss what a lot of young people will never have the good fortune to know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 01:24 PM

A version in Randolph, "Ozark Folk Songs," vol. 4, pp. 363-364, seems to have been based on the Carter Family version.
The 'Daddy Cleton' verse is changed:

Here's to Daddy Claxon, may his name forever stand,
And always be remembered in the courts of Alabam,
His earthly race is over and the curtains round him fall,
We'll carry him home to victory on the Wabach Cannonball.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr. Add: The Gatesville Cannonball
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 02:13 PM

Lyr. Add: THE GATESVILLE CANNONBALL
(Tune- Wabash Cannonball)
Gather 'round me all you maidens,
And I will tell my tale,
Of how I got my ticket
On the Gatesville Cannonball.

From the honky-tonks of Houston,
To the slums of San Antone,
To the great pool halls of Fort Worth,
Wherever I may roam,
You may have heard about me,
Of how I made my fall
And how I won my ticket
On the Gatesville Cannonball.

When I was young and handsome,
It was to my heart's delight
To go to balls and parties,
To stay out late at night.
It was at a ball I met her,
I asked her for a dance.
She could tell I was a Gatesville boy
By the way I wore my pants.

My stomps were neatly polished,
My ducks were neatly combed.
Before the dance was over,
I asked to walk her home.
Walking down the sidewalk,
You could hear the couples say,
"There goes the fair young maiden,
Just throwing her life away."

It was at her father's doorstep,
I asked if I may try.
It was at her mother's bedside,
I forced her down to lie.
I pulled her pants so gently.
I raised her dress so high.
I said "I'll be a son of a bitch,
I'll go the rest or die."

It was the very next morning,
The sheet were spotted red.
The mother said, "You son of a bitch,
You've got her maiden's head.
Gather 'round me all you fair maidens,
Listen to my pleas.
Never trust a Gatesville boy
An inch above the knee."

Gatesville, Texas, is the site of a large facility for the incarceration of wayward youth.

Pp. 79-81, Ed Cray, 1992, "The Erotic Muse," 2nd. ed., Univ. Illinois Press.
In Randolph and Legman, 1992, "Roll Me In Your Arms," 9c, pp. 76-80, under the title "An Inch Above Your Knee."

'Ducks' or ducktail, referring to a hair style of the 1940s-1950s, is probably older in the form of 'ducks.'

The Gatesville Cannonball" is based on the numerous versions of "The Night-Hawk," versions going back to the 1890s. Several titles, discussed by Randolph-Legman. Some versions use the same tune as "The Wabash Cannonball," which is usable in many songs, and anecdotally goes back to the 1890s.
Versions collected by Sharp and Karpeles. Also Canadian versions.

The form of the quatrains of "W C" is used in many songs; it will probably take quite a bit of digging to find where the tune was first used.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: GUEST,van wanderer
Date: 08 Jan 11 - 04:45 PM

this was so interesting and is the perfect example of the evolutionary nature and joy of true "folk music". I just played the utah philips LP to convert to digital and looked up Tolono song and found this thread.

I was thinking a lot about the changing nature of songs after spending time in Newfoundland this year and hearing "their" (sic) grand anthem "this land is your land" they sang it with places in Newfoundland and truly believed it was their song.. they never heard about woody guthrie or the US version at all and did not include the protest verses.   

I was reminded of being in england for the queens jubilee in 1977 and with some friends when they started singing what i thought was "my country tis of theee" but turned out to be "god save the queen" so guess we all borrow songs and tunes and thus the interesting version and history of songs like wabash cannonball!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: Mark Ross
Date: 08 Jan 11 - 05:54 PM

The Delmore Brothers recorded a great version. Also, Bruce "Haywire Brack" Brackner of Victoria B.C. just recorded another version sung to the tune of DARCY FARROW. Believe me, it works.

These days I sing the last verse as;

Here's to Utah Phillips may his name forever stand,
He's a hobo that's respected on the rails throughout the land,
And when his race is over and the curtain round him falls,
May his spirit ever linger on the Wabash Cannonball.

Mark Ross


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: mayomick
Date: 09 Jan 11 - 02:16 PM

"the curtains round him fall"

Is that where the American term "Curtains" come from ? As in "it was curtains for him"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: olddude
Date: 09 Jan 11 - 02:19 PM

Not from the song, from my understanding it goes back to the horse drawn hearse with the glass windows and curtains ...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: mayomick
Date: 09 Jan 11 - 02:32 PM

Ah , I get you olddude .From the song I always thought that poor old daddy claxton had been cremated.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: Reiver 2
Date: 09 Jan 11 - 03:38 PM

A great song. One of my favorite American songs. Utah Phillips' written "farewell" to the great trains quoted in this thread is both moving and beautiful -- yes, and so true! Thanks for posting it.

Reiver 2


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: GUEST,jediiladi-Minnesota
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 12:16 PM

My father rode the trains from the age of 12 to 22, being born in 1918. He told us his stories with detail to explain the life and experiences--he wanted to see the entire U.S., which he did. He told us of the places he saw and took pictures which we have today. He told of the sad stories: men with their orphaned children, sickness, alcholism, addictions, people who were attorneys, judges, singers: people who needed to get away from their "lives", and the train "bulls", his incarceration due to being caught on the train without a ticket, no I.D., a German name with no connections to home, how he kept from getting diseases and illnesses while riding the trains, families he met who gave him a meal, and the songs he learned. He would stop and work along the way and he carried a kodak box camera in a cardboard box in with his personal belongings on the journey. We have the many pictures and the camera. Of course, he made a 33 1/3 record of the Wabash Cannonball which we cherish.
You can't imagine how I've enjoyed reading the many comments and sharing my Dad's experiences herein. jediiladi-Minnesota


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Wabash Cannonball
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 12:33 AM

I live in wabash and i have been on the cannonball as achild. my brother and i got to ride its last run with all the other children in our class


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 16 August 8:41 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.