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Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train

DigiTrad:
THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN
THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN (2)


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Hell Bound Train (Frank Hutchison) (13)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Hell-Bound Train (from Glenn Ohrlin's book, The Hell-Bound Train)


Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Dec 04 - 02:52 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Dec 04 - 09:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Dec 04 - 10:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Dec 04 - 10:34 PM
RWilhelm 31 Dec 04 - 09:19 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 31 Dec 04 - 02:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 31 Dec 04 - 02:29 PM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 09 - 03:28 AM
Jim Dixon 16 Sep 09 - 12:02 PM
Rex 17 Sep 09 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,DWR 22 Jun 10 - 09:05 AM
clueless don 23 Jun 10 - 09:15 AM
Arkie 23 Jun 10 - 10:53 AM
Tannywheeler 24 Jun 10 - 10:14 AM
GUEST 11 Oct 10 - 09:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Oct 10 - 12:57 PM
Jim Dixon 15 Oct 10 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Nick Pope 03 Jun 14 - 06:53 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN (trad Nova Scotia)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 02:52 PM

This version came from Nova Scotia.

Lyr. Add: THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN (3)
(Nova Scotia)

Tom Gray lay down on the barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
He fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on the Hell-Bound Train.

The engine with blood was red and damp
And dismally lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp for fuel was shoveling bones,
And the furnace roared with a thousand groans.

The boiler was filled with lager beer,
And the Devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers made such a motley crew-
Church member, atheist, gentile and Jew.

Rich men in broadcloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies and withered hags;
Black men, red men, yellow and white
Chained together- a horrible sight.

Faster and faster the engine flew,
Wilder and wilder the country grew;
Louder and louder the thunder crashed,
Brighter and brighter the lightning flashed.

And all the passengers shrieked with pain
And begged the Devil to stop the train;
But he capered about and danced with glee
And laughed and joked at their misery.

My faithful friends you have done my work,
And the devil can never a payday shirk;
You have bullied the weak and robbed the poor,
And the hungry brother you've turned from your door.

You have gathered up gold with a canker rust
And given full vent to your hellish lusts;
You have drank and rioted and murdered and lied
And mocked at God in your hellish pride.

You have paid full fare, so I carry you through,
For it's only right that you get your due;
For every labourer is worth his hire,
So I'll land you safe in my lake of fire.

Where my fiery imps will torment you forever,
And all in vain you sigh for your Saviour.
When Tom awoke with an awful cry,
His clothes soaked wet and his hair standing high.

And he prayed as he never prayed before
To be saved from Hell and the devil's power,
And his crying and praying was not in vain,
For he nevermore rode on the Hell-Bound Train.

"...learned from a fella by the name of Fred Kennedy over in Nova Scotia" in a logging camp.

Printed with music, which differs from that printed by Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, no. 599, vol. 4, pp. 23-24. Edward D. (Sandy) Ives, 1999, "Drive Dull Care Away, Folksongs from Prince Edward Island," pp. 163-164.
Although the first collections of this song were in the West and Ozarks, it may have been published in a throw-away songbook and spread first through the mill towns and lumber camps of the northeast.
Two versions are in the DT (from Lomax and Randolph). It has been attributed to a sky pilot named Pruitte (Lomax) and to a Tom Gray (Randolph), but these are questionable. According to Randolph, it appeared in W. H. Fawcett's "Smoke-House Poetry" (not seen), date unknown. A couple of singers mentioned hearing it in the late 1890s.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 09:57 PM

The recording by Frank Hutchison, 1928-1929, was contained on a compilation Document cd of his songs, vol. 1

The website, ElectricScotland.com, provides lyrics of his song under the title "A Drunkard's Dream," by John Andrew Howell.
Drunkard's Dream


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 10:10 PM

Looking for information on John Andrew Howell, a "Blind poet of Webster County, WVA."
Other poems besides "A Drunkard's Dream" are a history of Webster County, and an autobiogrphical poem.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE HELLBOUND TRAIN (from Lita Ford)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Dec 04 - 10:34 PM

Correction- ElectricScotland provides lyrics of this (not his) song (Hell-Bound Train) under the title "A Drunkard's Dream"....

Norm Cohen, in "Long Steel Rail," pp. 638-644, shows that the roots of "Hell-Bound Train" belong in temperance songs of the 1850s and later such as "Railroad to Hell; or, If You Will, From Dissipation to Poverty, and from Poverty to Desperation." Cohen illustrates an English broadside, but almost identical text was printed in Glasgow, Scotland: Images . Image from Glasgow Broadside Ballads, Murray Collection. The introduction reads "This line begins in a Brewery, and runs through all Public Houses, Dram Shops and Jerry Shops, in a zigzag direction, until it lands in the Kingdom of Hell."
"The Railway to Heaven" was a broadside printed about the same time.

Versions of "Little Black Train," found in both black and white gospel collected around the time of the First World War, is a different song but has the theme of sinners on a train at its roots. (Newman I. White, American Negro Folk Songs; Dorothy Scarborough, On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs; Carter Family, "Little Black Train")

The following song, sung by Lita Ford, seems to have been inspired by but is very different from "The Hell-Bound Train."

Lyr. Add: HELLBOUND TRAIN (Ford)

Bad luck and trouble
Crashin' through my veins
And I ain't bound for glory
There's a devil in my brain.

Got a fistful of whiskey,
a suitcase full of sin
An' there's a thousand nasty habits
Underneath my skin.

We can fly on wings of the flames
Comin' down hard, only yourself to blame
Playin' so tough in a deadly game
Ain't that a shame.

Goin' down tonight on a Hellbound train
Goin' down tonight on a Hellbound train

I'm a speed demon baby,
Movin way too fast
You put a dagger through my soul
But you'll never kick my ass, oh, no.

We can fly on the wings of the flames
Comin' down hard, only yourself to blame
Playin' so tough in a deadly game
Ain't that a shame.

Goin' down tonight on a Hellbound train
Goin' down tonight on a Hellbound train.

Goin' down tonight, I'm Hellbound
Ain't good for nothin', nothin's what I crave
I'm your Angel of darkness
And I'll see you in Hell one day.

We can fly on the wings of the flames
Comin' down hard, only yourself to blame
Playin' so tough in a deadly game
Ain't that a shame.

Goin' down tonight on a Hellbound train
Goin' down tonight on a Hellbound train
Goin' down tonight, I'm Hellbound
On a hellbound train.

By Lita Ford, D. Ezrin, M. Grumbacher, M. D. Ehmig and K. Saviger, c. 1991.
Hellbound Train


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: RWilhelm
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 09:19 AM

Chuck Berry recorded the first version listed here in the 1950's as "Downbound Train"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 02:06 PM

Parts are similar, but the Chuck Berry version is not the same.

Two versions of "The Hell-Bound Train" are given in the DT. There are many.

("Downbound Train" is the title of a song by Bruce Springsteen about a lost love, quite different from "The Hell-Bound Train." It is the one usually thought of when "Downbound Train" is mentioned).

Recordings of "Hell-Bound Train" and related "Downbound Train" include:
Frank Hutchison, 1928
Smiling Ed McConnell, 1931
Chuck Berry, Downbound Train
J. M. Gates, Hell Bound Express Train
Hoyt Axton, Downbound Train
Glenn Ohrlin, The Hell-Bound Train.
(from Norm Cohen, "The Long Steel Rail," p. 644.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 02:29 PM

Norm Cohen pointed out similarities of "The Hell-Bound Train" to "Ride the Black Valley Railroad, credited to I. N. Tarbox, printed in One Hundred Choice Selections, No. 11, 1876. Cohen printed three verses only.

A full supply of bad whiskey
For our engine is taken here,
And a queer-looking fellow from Hades
Steps on for engineer.

Our engineer chuckles and dances
In the wild lurid flashes he throws.
Hotter blaze the red fires of his furnace
As on in the blackness he goes.

Oh, the sounds that we hear in the darkness,
The laughter and crying and groans,
The ravings of anger and madness,
The sobbings and pitiful moans!

Also printed in Railroad and Current Mechanics 22, Dec. 1913, p. 67.

Howard W. Odum (Odum-Arthur MS 30, July 10, 1929) found another variant:

Come all you good people if you want to hear
The story of a bad engineer
Who ran a train on the downward road,
And every car held a heavy load.

The agent stood at the station door.
He welcomed the rich. He grabbed at the poor;
And everybody seemed jolly and gay,
As the hell-bound train sped on its way.

Come, my friend, give your heart to Jesus.
Come, my friend, join our happy band.
Come today and follow the Savior.
He will lead you safely to the Promised Land.

Does anyone have, and can transcribe, the lyrics of "Hell Bound Express Train," by Rev. J. M. Gates?


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Subject: ADD Version: Hell-Bound Train (Ohrlin)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 03:28 AM

Since Glenn Ohrlin's book is titled The Hell-Bound Train, it seems only right that we include his version.

THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN

A Texas cowboy on a barroom floor
Had drank so much he could hold no more.

He fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream he rode on the Hell-bound train.

The engine with murderous blood was damp
And the headlight was a big brimstone lamp.

The imps for fuel were shoveling bones
And the furnace rang with a thousand groans.

The boiler was filled full of lager beer
And the Devil himself was the engineer.

The passengers they were a mixed-up crew,
Church member, atheist, Gentile, and Jew.

There were rich men in broadcloth and poor in rags,
Handsome girls and wrinkled hags.

With red men, yellow men, black, and white,
All chained together, a fearful sight.

The train rushed on at an awful pace,
The sulphurous fumes scorched their hands and face.

Faster and faster the engine flew,
And wilder and wilder the country grew.

Brighter and brighter the lightning flashed,
And louder and louder the thunder crashed.

Hotter and hotter the air became
Till the clothes were burned from each shrinking frame.

Then out of the distance there rose a yell:
"Ha, ha," said the Devil, "the next stop is Hell."

Then oh, how the passengers shrieked with pain
And begged the Devil to stop the train.

But he capered about and danced with glee
And he laughed and mocked at their misery.

"My friends, you have paid for your seats on this road,
The train goes through with a complete load.

"You've bullied the weak, you've cheated the poor,
The starving brother turned from your door.

"You've laid up gold till your purses bust
And given free play to your beastly lusts.

"The laborer always expects his hire,
So I'll land you safe in a lake of fire.

"Your flesh will scorch in the flames that roar,
My imps torment you forevermore."

Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry,
His clothes were wet and his hair stood high.

He prayed as he'd never prayed before
To be saved from Hell's front door.

His prayers and pleadings were not in vain,
For he never rode on the Hell-bound train.



Notes:
    I learned "The Hell-Bound Train" from my aunt Irene when I was a small bo. Irene doesn't remember it at all now, but I remember we even made up a parody that was a cross between "The Hell-Bound Train" and "The Eastbound Train." I'd always supposed Irene got it from listening to George B. German sing it on radio or from his song folio we had. However when I finally met Mr. German in 1968, he said he never sang this song. "So," as the folkiorists say, "we have a minor mystery." Some of my early cowboy buddies liked this song and would sometimes get me to sing it. It was especially effective at a rip-roaring party. Even some of the wild guys would have a reflective moment over this one!


Source: The Hell-Bound Train, by Glenn Ohrlin (1973, 1979), pp. 36-36

Click to play


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Subject: Lyr Add: TOM GRAY'S DREAM
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:02 PM

From The Journal of the Switchmen's Union of North America, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Buffalo, NY: Switchmen's Union, January, 1907), page 137:


TOM GRAY'S DREAM.

Tom Gray lay down on the bar-room floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.

The engine with blood was red and damp,
And brilliantly lit by a brimstone lamp.
An imp, for fuel, was shoveling bones
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.
The boiler was filled with lager beer,
And the devil himself was the engineer.

The passengers made such a motley crew?
Church member, atheist, gentile and Jew,
Rich men in broadcloth and beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies and withered old hags,
Yellow and black men, red, brown and white,
And all chained together?a horrible sight,
While the train dashed on at an awful pace
And a hot wind scorched their hands and face.

Wilder and wilder the country grew
As faster and faster the engine flew.
Louder and louder the thunder crashed
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed.
Hotter and hotter the air became,
Till the clothes were burnt from each quivering frame;
Then in the distance there arose such a yell:
"Ha, ha," croaked the devil, "We're nearing hell."
Then oh, how the passengers shrieked with pain
And begged of the devil to stop the train,
But he capered about and sang with glee,
And laughed and joked at their agony.

"My faithful friends, you have done my work,
And the devil can never a pay day shirk.
You have bullied the weak, you have robbed the poor,
And the starving brother turned from the door;
You have laid up gold where the canker rusts
And given free vent to your fleshy lusts;
You have drank and rioted, murdered and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride;
You have paid full fare, so I'll carry you through,
For it is only right you should get your due.
Why, the laborer always expects his hire,
So I'll land you safe in the lake of fire,
Where your flesh shall roast in the flames that roar
And my imps torment you more and more."

Then Tom awoke with an agonized cry.
His clothes soaked with sweat and his hair standing high,
And he prayed as he never prayed before,
To be saved from drink and the devil's power;
And his prayers and his cries were not in vain,
For he never more rode on the hell-bound train.

?And. Kerr in Houston Labor Journal.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: Rex
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 12:00 PM

Thanks to Q for bringing this up. Its a song worthy of study. Thanks to Joe for remembering Glenn Ohrlin. I feel he is the authority on this one. How remarkable that we stil have him around with so many of our music folks gone. I'm amazed and grateful to see him in Cody every year. He drives all the way from Arkansas to be there. And to Elko as well.

Rex


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 22 Jun 10 - 09:05 AM

Yes, and if you are ever at "home" in Mountain View, AR, you can see Glenn just every now and then at the Ozark Folk Center. Upcoming dates are Thursday this week, June 24 and Wednesday, June 30 next week.

But getting back to The Hell-Bound Train, great song and a great book. I recommend it highly. It is out of print, but reasonably priced copies can sometimes be found in the shops or at eBay.

***********

Oooh, I lied, I just now looked at eBay and "reasonably priced" and Hell-Bound Train seem to have parted company. Five used copies are currently available in the $75-$80 range and a new copy is priced at just over $100. I think I paid about $15 for my most excellent ex-library copy.

It is one of a select number of books that are always at hand as I sit here at the computer. The others are Tony Russell's Country Music Discography and a small selection of Stamps-Baxter Hymnals,

**********

OK, one more update. Amazon.com lists several in the $8-$25 range though you CAN get one for $999 if you are so inclined. Like I said, if you have any interest in cowboy music, this one's for you.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: clueless don
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 09:15 AM

The first one mentioned ("Tom Gray lay down on the barroom floor, ..." ... "... he never more rode on the hell-bound train") was done as a recitation on Kevin Henry's "One's Own Place" CD.

Don


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: Arkie
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 10:53 AM

Glenn Ohrlin is around 85 now and still drives to all engagements and still ranching on top of Dodd Mountain.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 10:14 AM

There's a fab performer namede Steve James(Cicchetti) who does a version of this song on something from the 1980s or '90s. He's a guitar fella: blues, National Steel, funky stuff from the 20s & 30s, old-timey, real trad--all manner of stuff. & he researches info about performers & songs. If you can find his stuff get some. If you get a chance to see him live, DO IT. You'll be glad. Tw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 10 - 09:25 PM

Wikipedia & other sources credit "Retta M. Brown" "tom grey's dream" w/ this song??? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Gray%27s_Dream

"Tom Gray's Dream" is a poem written by western Illinois poet Retta M. Brown (born September 18, 1893).

Tom Gray was a farmer's son, born in Indiana on November 27, 1852, whose family moved to Mercer County, Illinois. During a drunken stupor, he experienced a frightening dream that moved him to cease alcohol abuse. His niece, Retta M. Brown, wrote the poem and immortalized the nightmare. Alcohol recovery groups and certain churches have widely circulated the poem, usually without attribution


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Oct 10 - 12:57 PM

"Railroad to Hell ...." appears in broadsides, 19th c., prior to Retta Brown's verse. Most collectors consider the Retta Brown attribution dubious.
See above the 1876 version by Tarbox.
Tom Gray was credited in Fawcett's "Smokehouse Poetry.
Norn Cohen attributes some more modern versions to F. H or M Lehman, Railroad Mans Magazine 1910, and a cowboy version was collected by Lomax and others.

Tom Gray's Dream appeared without attribution in a railroad magazine, 1907 (see Dixon post, above, 1907).

Norm Cohen, Long Steel Rail leaves it open, but points to various temperance songs of the mid-19th c.


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Subject: Lyr Add: RAILROAD TO HELL
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 08:12 AM

The basic idea is similar, but the words are completely different. Also note, there is no narrative in this version.

From a reproduction of an old broadside in Curiosities of Street Literature by Charles Hindley (London: Reeves and Turner, 1871), page 33:

RAILROAD TO HELL,
FROM DISSIPATION TO POVERTY,
AND
FROM POVERTY TO DESPERATION.

This Line begins in the Brewery, and runs through all Public-Houses, Dram-shops, and Jerry-shops, in a zigzag direction, until it lands in the Kingdom of Hell.

1. If you are determined and wishful to go,
With blind debauchees to the regions of woe,
Then go to the Tap without any delay,
And drink both your reason and money away,
But never mind care, for if you despair,
It is the first train that will carry you there.

2. You've nothing to do but to guzzle and swill,
As long as the Landlord is willing to fill,
For this is the Line and the Railroad to Hell,
Where Drunkards and Devils for ever must dwell;
So drink all you can, it is the chief plan,
That e'er was invented by Devil for man.

3. This Railroad it runs thro' Parlours and Snugs,
And here you can sit round glasses and jugs,
And have what you please, such as Ale, Gin, or Rum,
To please an old friend, or an old drunken chum;
And this is the way to drink all the day,
And then stagger home when you've swallowed your pay.

4. Such Taverns as these are Railroads to Hell,
Their barrels are engines which make men rebel;
Their jugs and their glasses which furnish their Trains,
Will empty their pockets and muddle their brains.
And thus drunkards ride to Hell in their pride,
With nothing but steam from the barrels inside.

5. We've Railroads to Heaven, and Railroads to Hell,
Where good men can ride, and where Devils can dwell;
We've Taverns for drunkards and Churches for Saints,
And quacks of all sorts to heal our complaints;
So now we can ride to Hell in our pride,
On Railroads of sin with blue Devils inside.

6. Old Swilltub the doctor and guard of the Trains,
He filches your pockets and fuddles your brains;
But when he's got all from the poor silly man,
He then sends him home to do as he can,
With all his old chums, his badgers and bums,
Who sue him for money he owes in great sums.

7. But let us not ride on these Railroads of sin,
Nor drink either Brandy, Ale, Porter, or Gin;
And then we shall ride into Heaven with joy,
Where no drunken quacks can our vitals destroy
With poisonous drugs, sold to us in jugs,
In either their Bars, their Parlours, or Snugs.

8. The number of vaults which we have in Town,
Have robbed the poor lass of her bonnet and gown,
Her topknots and feathers have gone to the Pop,
And many have lost both credit and shop;
Both young men and maids of very good trades,
Have drunk all they earned, and gone down to the shades.

9. We've plenty of signs, both Horses and Bulls,
Of Lions and Dragons, to serve drunken Trulls;
We've signs too of Angels, of Warriors and Kings?
Yes, plenty of signs of good and bad things.
But what's their design? Why Gin, Rum, and Wine,
Sold here to intoxicate puppies and swine.

10. We've White and Black Bulls and two Suns in one street,
One Swan and two Lions which never taste meat,
And here you see women with bottles and jugs,
Roll into these taverns and dram-drinking snugs,
As brazen as brass to get an odd glass,
In some of these shops where a fool cannot pass.

11. No wonder that Pop-ticket women and wags,
Are dressed up in nothing but patches and rags.
Their dresses and shawls for strong liquor they'll swop,
Yes, Tagrag and Bobtail must go to the pop;
And when this is done, away they will run,
To either a Lion, a Bull, or a Sun.

12. Such poor sorry women who pledge their old rags,
Are known by their petticoats hanging in jags;
You'll see them at night with their heads wrapt in shawls
Not far from the Dram-shop, or sign of Three Balls,
With bonnets and hats, old dresses and brats,
Made up into bundles as you have seen Pat's.

LONDON:?T. Such, Printer, Union street, Boro.'


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
From: GUEST,Nick Pope
Date: 03 Jun 14 - 06:53 PM

"Tom Gray... hell-bound train" version, Sept. 21, 1904:
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026912/1904-09-21/ed-1/seq-9/


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