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Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car

DigiTrad:
JERRY, GO AND ILE THAT CAR


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Jerry Go Milk The Bull (2)


Dave Ruch 20 Apr 05 - 04:16 PM
Uncle_DaveO 20 Apr 05 - 04:33 PM
Amos 20 Apr 05 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,harpgirl 20 Apr 05 - 06:04 PM
Uncle_DaveO 20 Apr 05 - 06:52 PM
Deckman 20 Apr 05 - 07:04 PM
Deckman 20 Apr 05 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Amos 20 Apr 05 - 07:17 PM
Deckman 20 Apr 05 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Amos 20 Apr 05 - 07:39 PM
Stewie 20 Apr 05 - 08:26 PM
Stewie 20 Apr 05 - 08:47 PM
Joe Offer 20 Apr 05 - 11:44 PM
Joe Offer 20 Apr 05 - 11:57 PM
GUEST,katlaughing coming in through the backdoor 21 Apr 05 - 06:08 AM
Dave Ruch 21 Apr 05 - 08:24 AM
ejsant 08 Feb 06 - 11:53 AM
Uncle_DaveO 08 Feb 06 - 03:10 PM
ejsant 08 Feb 06 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 08 Feb 06 - 06:46 PM
Charley Noble 08 Feb 06 - 09:45 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 08 Feb 06 - 10:19 PM
Charley Noble 09 Feb 06 - 10:44 AM
johnross 09 Feb 06 - 03:04 PM
kendall 09 Feb 06 - 03:09 PM
dick greenhaus 09 Feb 06 - 09:56 PM
Charley Noble 14 Feb 06 - 05:17 PM
GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett 14 Dec 07 - 05:59 PM
Charley Noble 14 Dec 07 - 10:32 PM
Jon Bartlett 15 Dec 07 - 03:15 AM
Art Thieme 15 Dec 07 - 05:39 PM
Art Thieme 15 Dec 07 - 05:56 PM
Bob the Postman 16 Dec 07 - 11:05 AM
katlaughing 16 Dec 07 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Lighter 16 Dec 07 - 08:50 PM
Art Thieme 16 Dec 07 - 09:30 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 17 Dec 07 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 18 Dec 07 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 18 Dec 07 - 06:47 PM
Art Thieme 18 Dec 07 - 11:30 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Dec 07 - 12:33 AM
Art Thieme 20 Dec 07 - 12:34 AM
Jon Bartlett 19 May 08 - 07:06 PM
Charley Noble 19 May 08 - 08:26 PM
katlaughing 19 May 08 - 11:10 PM
Jon Bartlett 20 May 08 - 04:29 AM
Jim Dixon 27 Mar 09 - 11:09 AM
Charley Noble 27 Mar 09 - 08:52 PM
Art Thieme 27 Mar 09 - 11:37 PM
Art Thieme 27 Mar 09 - 11:40 PM
Amos 28 Mar 09 - 02:50 AM
GUEST,Birmingham Rails 21 Sep 11 - 10:23 PM
Charley Noble 15 May 12 - 09:30 AM
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Subject: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 04:16 PM

Wondering where this Irish-American railroad song started it's life? It is mentioned in various threads here, but I don't believe there is any thread dedicated to the song.

I've been able to glean that Art Thieme has recorded a version of it, and it was done much earlier on (early twentieth century I presume) by cowboy singer Harry McClintock. I have a version of it sung by Ezra "Fuzzy" Barhight, a lumberman from NY/PA, in the 1950's. He learned most of his songs on the 1880's - 1920, many from Irish farmers & lumbermen in his area. Any help is much appreciated!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 04:33 PM

This is a fine song, and I sing it now and again, with banjo. I'd do it more often, but I feel a little backward with it because of the Irish accent, which I'm not sure I do well enough.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Amos
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 04:48 PM

Art knows the story of it. It's on his "Older I Get, Better I Was" compilation, from a 1980 recording. He says in the liner notes he learned it from Harry McClintock, and also that the earliest date he has for the song is 1884.

A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 06:04 PM

when he gets here, he'll give you the straight poop!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 06:52 PM

It was from a Folkways recording of Harry McClintock, I believe, that I learned it, all those many years ago.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 07:04 PM

My folkmusic mentor was a wonderful man named Bill Higley. He and "Haywire Mac" shared a radio mike for 20 years. The first years of my folk music exposure were all "Haywire Mac" songs, including this one. It's a great song and does deserve it's own thread. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 07:11 PM

I haven't even thought of this song for probably 45 years, but seeing just the title, my stupid brain said:

"Come all you railroad section men,
And listen to my tale ..."

I'm probably wrong and will be corrected soon, but that's an example of what happens when you feed this kind of music into the brain of a 13 year old!!! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,Amos
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 07:17 PM

Nope. Them's the opening lines, all right!! Except it's "song", not tale.

Come all you railroad section men,
And listen to my song
It is of Larry O'Sullivan
Who is now dead and gone.
For twenty years a section boss
He never hired a tar!
And it's "joint ahead! and it's "Center back!"
And "Jerry, go an' oil that car!!"

A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 07:24 PM

I haven't even thought of this song for probably 45 years, but seeing just the title, my stupid brain said:

"Come all you railroad section men,
And listen to my tale ..."

I'm probably wrong and will be corrected soon, but that's an example of what happens when you feed this kind of music into the brain of a 13 year old!!! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,Amos
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 07:39 PM

Um, Bob...I think you already were answered the first time!! :D

A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Stewie
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 08:26 PM

In Meade, 'Country Music Sources', the earliest reference is: 'C.F. Lummis, "An old song of the trail", Out West, 1904'. The Laws reference is 'Laws H30'.

In his note to a fragment sung by Warde H. Ford of Crandon, Wis, in 1939, to a different tune to the McClintock 1928 recording, Archie Green indicated that the earliest printed text known to him appeared in M.C. Dean 'The Flying Cloud' 1922 and that the fullest text was sent to Robert W. Gordon in 1924 by R.M. MacLeod from Winnipeg, Canada. [Archie Green at p9 of booklet accompanying Various Artists 'Railroad Songs and Ballads' Rounder CD 1508].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Stewie
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 08:47 PM

See also Norm Cohen 'Long Steel Rail' Uni Illinois Press 2000, pp543-546.

Cohen notes that Lummis (see reference in my previous post) encountered a fragment of 'Jerry ...' when he walked some 35 hundred miles across the continent, from Cincinnati to Los Angeles', in 1884. In 1904, after spending considerable effort on tracking the song's origin, Lummis concluded:


'Jerry' was written, I am reasonably sure, in the year 1881, and was a product of the Santa Fe route. I know that it was written by a roving Connaught man who has no other name of record than 'Riley the Bum'. He was a happy-go-lucky, hard-working, quick-fighting section laborer, but he was also a minstrel. Both as music and as literature, the song he composed stands easily first of all the 'come all ye's' that have ever been made as railroad songs. It is the mother tincture of the track as it existed twenty years ago and can, by no human possibility exist again ...
[Quoted by N. Cohen at p544].


--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 11:44 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index doesn't shed light on any really old versions of the song (earliest is 1927, from Sandburg's American Songbag, but I think the entry is worth posting:

Jerry, Go and Ile that Car [Laws H30]

DESCRIPTION: Larry Sullivan has spent forty years maintaining the railroads; he is proud of the state of the tracks and of never having had a wreck. As he lies dying, he asks to be buried by the tracks. His last words are, "Jerry, go and ile that car."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg)
KEYWORDS: train death work
FOUND IN: US(So,SW)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Laws H30, "Jerry, Go and Ile that Car"
Belden, pp. 445-446, "The Old Section Boss" (1 text, very defective)
Sandburg, pp. 360-361, "Jerry, Go an' Ile That Car" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 216, "Jerry, Go and Ile that Car" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 441, "Jerry, Go and Ile That Car" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT 691, JERRYILE

Roud #2192
RECORDINGS:
Warde H. Ford, "Jerry, will you ile that car" [fragment] (AFS 4215 B2, 1939; on LC61, in AMMEM/Cowell)
Harry "Mac" McClintock, "Jerry, Go Ile That Car" (Victor 21521, 1928; on RRinFS)
Art Thieme, "Jerry, Go & Oil That Car" (on Thieme06)

File: LH30

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2005 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 11:57 PM

Click here for the Warde Ford recording at the Library of Congress.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,katlaughing coming in through the backdoor
Date: 21 Apr 05 - 06:08 AM

I learned this from Art's CD and really love it. Dave, he does it without the hint of an Irish accent and it sounds great. With your delivery I dont' think you'd have to worry about that, either.:-)

I have Art's booklet which came out with his earlier tape of RR songs. When I can get to it, I'll see what more he might have said, UNLESS, of course, he gets back to us beforehand. They're getting moved back into their renovated apt. so it may take a day or two.

kat


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 21 Apr 05 - 08:24 AM

Great info - many thanks to all! Interesting that this song, which seems so have originated and been sung mostly out west, would wind up back in the northeast. A great reminder that not all songs (and people) were going east to west in the 19th & early 20th century.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: ejsant
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 11:53 AM

Does anyone have an idea where I can locate the lyrics to this song on the Internet? I've tried a number of different search formats here to no avail.

Thanks!!!

Peace,
Ed


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 03:10 PM

For the lyrics and the tune, just go to the links at the top of this thread and click. The DT's version will come up, and there's a link to the tune at the bottom of it.

Your problem with searching just might be that you made the same mistake the originator of this thread did in the title. It's "ile that car" rather than "oil".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: ejsant
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 04:23 PM

Hey Dave,

Thanks for pointing that out. I never noticed the DT listing at the top of the thread. I did use "Ile" as well.

Peace,
Ed


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 06:46 PM

"The Real Ol' Mountain Dew" (the Irish song) is almost always sung to the same tune that McClintock used for "Jerry Go An' Oil That Car"----Not sure which came first...

My recording of "Jerry" that I put on the 1998 CD was one Paul Stamler taped when I did a house concert at his home in St. Louis, Missouri back in the late 70s or early 80s. It wasn't done by me very often, probably because I liked it so much and didn't want to get tired of it. But playing at Paul's house was always so comfortable that I dredged it up and sang it. One verse did inadvertently get left out---.   

The 1884 date I mentioned in my notes booklet for "Jerry Go And Oil That Car" was one I construed from the fact that PAUL DURST, the Wobbly organizer, fiddler, singer, crop worker, who's life I've chronicled in this forum on occasion, told me in 1961 that he'd first heard it in Wisconsin when he was 15 or 16 years old. Since Paul was born in 1868, it figures out to be just about 1884 that he first heard the song.

Do a forum search on Paul Durst to get his details--to the extent they were known to me.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 09:45 PM

You've all got me wondering what record I heard this song on back in the 1950's. I was thinking it might have been one of collector-singer Frank Warner's earlier recordings but I just checked my two albums and the song's not listed. Was it Burl Ives or Ed McCurdy?

I was always bothered by the line "He never hired a tar!" which I assumed was a reference to good old Irish racism, kind of stopped me in my tracks so to speak from singing it. I suppose I could have figured out a way to re-word the line or dropped the verse all together.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 08 Feb 06 - 10:19 PM

Charlie,

It possibly (probably?) was Mac McClintock himself. That's the one I heard on folk radio in the late 1950s & into the '60s.

Tar is a term for >I>sailor. No recism involved I do not think.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 10:44 AM

Art-

I'm sure it was on a recording and I'll have to check what's stashed at my Mother's house, those old 78's. The song was definitely delivered with a strong Irish accent, and with a great deal of relish. Maybe it was one of those 10" Broadside records.

It's true that "tar" could refer to a sailor but I'm still unconvinced.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: johnross
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 03:04 PM

The Haywire Mac recording of "Jerry" is included in the new Smithsonian Folkways "Classic Railroad Songs" collection that was released last month.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: kendall
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 03:09 PM

Art Thieme's version is the only version I have ever heard, but I don't need to hear another. His will do quite nicely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Feb 06 - 09:56 PM

Art-
The Real Ol' Mountain Dew was written by Mr. Harrigan, of Harrigan and Hart fame. McClintock's version, as noted above, is on Smithsonian Folkways new CD "Classic Railroad songs" as well as on the same outfit;s custom CD of Harry McClintock. Both available from CAMSCO Music. Of course.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Feb 06 - 05:17 PM

Damn! I hate it when I loss track of a recording but I finally found the one I'd been looking for in the jungle that we used to call the living room. It's an old 10" Folkways Records entitled AMERICAN WORK SONGS (FP 27) and for further confusin the song is titled "Roundhouse Song"; it is sung by "Mac" McClintock and he does a great job. Other singers on this sampler recording are Bill Bonyun, Sam Eskin, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston and Leadbelly.

There is a lyrics booklet included with the record but what Mac is singing is not very accurately transcribed: instead of "tar" it's "rum" and "Tom put the handcar on the track" instead of "Come put the handcar on the track."

But what a great recording!

Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr Add: JERRY GO ILE THAT CAR (Harry McClintock)
From: GUEST,Jonathan Hewlett
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 05:59 PM

You can find it in the book LONG STEEL RAIL.
Here are the lyrics.

Come all ye railroad section men and listen to my song,
It is of Larry O' Sullivan, who now is dead and gone;
For twenty years the section boss, he never hired a tar,
And it's "j'int ahead and center back, and Jerry, go and 'ile that car."

For twenty years the section boss he worked upon the track,
And be it to his credit he never had a wreck;
For he kept every joint right up to the p'int with a tap of the tamp and bar,
And while the boys were shimmin' up the ties, it's "Jerry, would you 'ile that car."

And every Sunday morning unto the gang he'd say,
"Me boys, prepare ye be aware, the old lady goes to church today;
Now, I want every man to pump the best he can, for the distance it is far,
And we have to get in ahead of Number Ten; so Jerry, go and 'ile that car."

'Twas in November in the wintertime and the ground all covered with snow,
"Come put the hand car on the track and over the section go."
With his big soldier coat buttoned up to his throat, all weathers he whould dare,
And it's "Paddy Mack, will you walk the track, and Jerry, go and 'ile the car."

God rest ye, Larry O'Sullivan, to me you were kind and good,
Ye always made the section men go out and chop me wood;
And fetch me water from the well and chop me kindlin' fine,
And any man that wouldn't lend a hand, 'twas "Larry, give him his time."

"Give my respects to the road-master," poor Larry he did cry,
"And leave me up that I my see the old handcar before I die.
Then lay the spike maul on me chest, the gauge and the old plow-bar,
And while the boys will be fillin' up the grave, of Jerry, would you 'ile that car."

Harry McClintock


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 10:32 PM

Jonathan-

Very nicely transcribed. I'm thinking there's a typo in the second line of the last verse. It should read:

"And leave me up that I mAy see the old handcar before I die."

And the last line of that verse should read:

"And while the boys will be fillin' up the grave, oH Jerry, would you 'il
that car."

Maybe some nice Joe Clone would edit what's posted above.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 03:15 AM

Here's the version collected in 1959 in BC from Capt. Charles Cates, who had it from his father. He said, "it is an old railway song and I presume the reason my father got that was the fact that he worked across, during the construction of the CPR [finished in 1885 JB] he worked right across and was at the driving of the last spike at Craigellachie in British Columbia near Revelstoke."

Come all ye railroad section-men, I hope you will draw near,
And listen to the story that I will tell you here
Concerning Larry Sullivan - alas! he is no more
'Twas over forty years ago he sailed from Erin's shore.

For forty long years and more he worked upon the track
And it always was his greatest pride that he never had a wreck
For he always made the point to keep up the low joint with the gauge and the tampin' bar
And while the b'ys were shimmin' up the ties, sure, Jerry'd be 'iling the car.

God bless you, Larry Sullivan! to me you were so good -
You used to make the section hands go out and cut the wood.
To the well for the water they must go and split the kindlin' fine,
And, 'pon me soul, if one of them would growl, they would then quick get their time.

Sunday morning would come around, to the section-hands he'd say
"Oh, I want all you men for to hustle all you can, for me wife goes to Mass today.
And we've got to be in before Number Ten and the distance it is far,
So while you boys are gettin' ready to leave, sure, Jerry go 'ile the car."

You should have seen him in the winter time when the hills were clad with snow
Oh, it was his pride on the handcar to ride as over the section he'd go.
With his big so'dger coat buttoned up around his throat any dangers he would dare.
And it's "Paddy Mac, do you walk that track, while Jerry goes 'ile the car."

Now poor old Larry Sullivan, alas! he did grow old,
And one day in the winter time he caught a heavy cold.
Though his fever rose, he was out in the snows, ridin' both near and far.
When the pain in his chest just wouldn't let him rest still 'twas, "Jerry go 'ile the car."

"Give my respects to the roadmaster," poor Larry he did cry,
"And lift me up so that I may see the old handcar before I die.
Then upon my breast let the spike moll rest and the gauge and the old claw-bar,
And while the boys are layin' me in me grave, oh Jerry, go 'ile that car."

"When I am dead and gone to my rest there's one thing that I crave -
Please bury me close to the side of the track with a handcar on my grave,
And when the b'ys go out for to fix the track with the gauge and the old claw-bar,
Oh I'll hear the click of the frog in the switch, singin', "Jerry, go 'ile the car."

Oh, he was so weak, he could hardly speak - in a moment he was dead,
But "Joint ahead and centre back," were the last words that he said.
And the last words he said on his dying bed were, "I never hired a tar
O joint ahead and centre back, and Jerry go 'ile the car."

For those unfamiliar with railway technology: a section gang was responsible for the maintenance of the "permanent way" ("p-way", the track itself - rail, cross-ties [Br. "sleepers"] and the road-bed itself [Br. "ballast"]). Larry Sullivan was in charge of such a crew. Their job was to ensure that the rail was firmly located and was level with the rest of the track, and to do this they would jack up the rail at low points and fill with ballast. The "car" which constantly needs to be "'iled" is a hand-car, pumped ("uppy-downy", like sea-pumps) to make it move, and used by the crew to move up and down the "section" (see http://home.cogeco.ca/~trains/rrterms.htm for more info on railway technology.

My father was a railwayman for most of his adult life and I worked for British Rail for a few years before emigrating to Canada. The "ownership" Larry Sullivan felt for his section would not surprise any old railwayman: to run a railway is a public service, a 24/7 commitment, not a 9 to 5 "job". I remember interviewing railway workers in the 'sixties in Britain who would say, for example, "I looked out the window and it was foggy, so I thought I'd go down and give Tim a hand in the signal-box" - unpaid, unrecognized, unthanked dedication to "duty" that these days would perhaps surprise young workers, but then was taken for granted.

A fine song - I'd like to know its author.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 05:39 PM

Jon,

What a fine addition! Thanks for posting it here. It does continue to amaze me how take 'em and make 'em unique, and our own. I, for one, for sure, am glad to have that set of words.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 05:56 PM

...just an add-on: In light of so many good threads on folkloristic things/songs British, it is good to see a thread here at Mudcat with a prime new variation like this of what has become an old chestnut of sorts to singers of North American folk songs and ballads. That's quite refreshing to this old folkie.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 16 Dec 07 - 11:05 AM

I wonder if anyone can comment on the origins of the tune for this song. Last year, Art noted that the tune is the same as that usually used for "Real Old Mountain Dew". The "Mountain Dew" tune I remember from a Clancy Brothers record is not the same as that used by McClintock, however. It IS the same as the tune for the the Irish rebel "Song Of The Dawn" and for an Australian gold-rush song about how "gold dust lay in all the streets and miner's right was free". A little poking around in Mudcat threads about Song Of The Dawn brings up references to a music-hall song about a certain Moriarity. So this tune seems to be a traditional Irish air, much used by lyricists down through the years. Can someone Name That Tune?

By the way, you Vancouver folk-song archivist types, I'd sure like to hear a CD of Captain Cates field recordings.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Dec 07 - 04:07 PM

I agree, Art. This has been a fun one to follow!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 16 Dec 07 - 08:50 PM

I second Art's motion! It's great to see a new text of such an old familiar song.

As for the tune, the one I'm familiar with - from Sandburg? - is nothing like "The Good Old Mountain Dew," as sung by the Clancys or anyone else.

That one is mucgh like "The Girl I Left Behind Me."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Dec 07 - 09:30 PM

How about the McPeake family's version?? That is quite a lot like "Jerry" to my ears. (Unless me having one less ear now makes that much difference. ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:12 PM

As one long fascinated with the railroads of our country, I long ago learned that the "hotbox" was the bane of the early brakemen and conductors, especially on freight trains. The wheel assemblies on both freight and passenger cars are called "trucks." Most have two axles, the ends of which rotate freely in ball bearing "journal boxes" which had to be oiled or greased regularly to prevent "hot boxes" which often led to fires that could be catastrophic. The invention of the Timken roller bearing nearly eliminated the problem and is in universal use even now. Your own car probably has a version on each wheel. It's no wonder that the early days of our railroads gave birth to any number of songs and stories about the dreaded "hotbox."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 06:35 PM

Jon Bartlett Re:I'd like to know it's author
Your questioned was answered by STEWIE 20 Apr 05 - 08:47 PM

Before STEWIE'S quotation Cohen gives the remarkable credentials for its authenticity: Re: AUTHOR

From LSR by Cohen p 544.

One of California's most amazing men of letters was Charles F. Lummis (1859-1928). His long list of posts achievements included city editor of the Los Angeles Times (1885-87), director of the Los Angeles Public Library (1905-10), editor of Land of Sunshine and Out West magazine (1894-1909), founder of the Southwest Museum, and author of a score of books on the history of California, The Southwest, Mexico, and Peru. In addition, Lummis was a pioneer folklorist of note: as early as 1892 he published an article on New Mexico folksongs in Cosmopolitan magazine. In 1884, Lummis walked some thirty-five hundred miles across the continent from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, recount his experiences in a series of letters to the Los Angeles Times. During that journey he first heard a fragment of "Jerry, Go an' Ile That Car," and he expended considerable effort in later years to determine the complete song and the identity of the author. In about 1904, with the help of Arthur G. Wells, general manager of the Santa Fe lines from New Mexico westward, he concluded the following:

And then the quote recorded by: STEWIE 20 Apr 05 - 08:47 PM

Cohen notes (p 544-45) that from its Southwest origin it quickly spread eastward and northward. And, "The extent of variation exhibited over this thirty-year period was considerable." He then notes three distinctly different openings.

LUMMIS - (copied by John Lomax 1910 without attribution) ((Sandburg 1927 used Lummis text and tune) (((Alan Lomax gave attribution to Sandburg))) Same as MAC's recorded version noted in this thread.

R.W. Duncan, a foreman on the Santa Fe at Yampai, Arizona, wrote that he had learened the song in 1884 and supplied a text considerably different from the one given by Lummis:

DUNCAN
("Another Version of an Old Song," letter and text by R.W. Duncan, Santa Fe Employes' Magazine 2 (July, 1908), 601; reprinted in RR ManM 7 (Oct., 1908), 188-89.)

My name 'tis O'Larry Sullivan, a native the auld grane sod,
For twenty-foive long weary years I've worked upon the road;
I alsways made it a pint to keep up the jint be the force of the tampin' bar-r,
And whin I am dead, O let it be said that I niver hired a tar-r-r.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

(hired a tar-r-r???? )


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 06:47 PM

M. C. DEAN - the third versional variation noted by Cohen (in 30 years since origin)
Flying Cloud (Virginia, Minn.: Quickprint, [1922?]) p. 26

Come, all you railroad section hands, I hope you will draw near,
And likewise pay attention to these few lines you'll hear,
Concerning one Larry Sullivan, alas, he is no more,
He sailed some forty years ago from the green old Irish shore.

For four and thirty weary years he worked upon the track,
And the truth to say from the very first day he never had a wreck,
For he made it a point to keep up the lower joints with the force of the tamping bar;
'Joint ahead and center back and Jerry go oil the car.

To see old Larry in the winter time when the hills were clad with snow,
It was his "pride 011 his handcar to ride as over the section he'd go,
With his big soldier coat buttoned up to his throat, sure he looked like an Emperor,
And while the boys were shimming up the ties, sure Jerry would be oiling the car.

When Sunday morning came around to the section hands he'd say,
"I suppose you all know that my wife is going to Mass today,
And I want every man for to pump all he can, for the distance it is very far,
And I'd like to get in ahead of number ten, so Jerry go oil the car."

"And now when my friends are gathered around, there is one request I crave,
When I am dead and gone to my rest, place the handcar on ! ve ;
Let the spike mawl rest upon my breast with the gauge and the old clawbar,
And while the boys fire lowering me down, hire Jerry to be oiling the car."

"Give my regards to the roj'dinaster," poor Larry he did cry,
"And rise me up so I may see the handcar before I die."
He was so wake lie could hardly spake, in a moment he was dead ;
"Joint ahead and center back," were the very last words he said.

Remarks by .l/r.9. Sullivan.

God bless you. Larry Sullivan, to me you was kind and good,
For me you'd make the section hands"go out and cut the wood,
To the well also for water they would go. and chop the kin-dling fine,
And if any of them would growl, upon my soul, he'd dam soon get his time.

And now that he is dead I want it to be said that the cars they never got a jar;
Joint ahead and center back and Jerry go oil the car.

Flying Cloud (Virginia, Minn.: Quickprint, [1922?]) p. 26.)

ON-LINE BOOK COPY - http://www.archive.org/details/flyingcloudonehu00deanrich

Here is a treasure of unmined material
http://www.folk-network.com/directory/links/song-collections_books.html

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 11:30 PM

Mr. G.----Thanks so much. A great window into those moments.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 12:33 AM

Thanks Mr. T

Pretty "P-O-ed" about your referring to this as an "old chestnut," it raised my hackles a bit and finally got time (Tuesdays are frequently Sundays) to dig.

We obviously run in diametrically opposite circles that, like astroids and comets, occasionaly have the mishappenstance to cross paths.

Personally, Mr. Dean is an authentic recollection but, perhaps, he was not a musician...the meter is off.

It is easy to see the "refinement" but same intent in the 1959 version posted by Jon Bartlett Date: 15 Dec 07 - 03:15 AM

A grand example of the folk process.

RR Man Mag Duncan may be next to impossible to find...even the Santa Fe Emp appears scarce....but it is on the "to find list."

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

I believe you will enjoy that second link.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 12:34 AM

G.--I'll say 'acorn' then, and leave it at that.
We do manage to push each others buttons it seems, even when we ain't trying.
A.T.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 19 May 08 - 07:06 PM

I'm pleased to say that this gem of a song appears on our latest CD "Now It's Called Princeton: Songs and Poems from the Upper Similkameen". The CD will be out for our first traditional music festival here, 16/17 August 2008.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 May 08 - 08:26 PM

Jon-

I'll certainly be looking forward to getting a copy of your recording of this song, and whatever else is on your CD. I don't suppose the CD will be available at Mystic.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 May 08 - 11:10 PM

Good luck with that new CD, Jon. That's a great song to add to any CD. I really like what I hear on your website. Will you new CD be available online?

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 20 May 08 - 04:29 AM

Charley, I don't think we'll make the Mystic deadline - we'll do the best we can, tho. Katlaughing, thanks for your kind words. We'll add a sample of the new CD to the website.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: Lyr Add: JERRY, GO AN' ILE THAT CAR!
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 11:09 AM

Note: this version is nearly the same as that in the DT, but the DT version lacks a chorus.

From Out West Vol. XX, No. 2, February, 1904:

[That source also has musical notation for the melody line only.]

AN OLD SONG OF THE RAIL.
[Charles F. Lummis]

...In 1884, when I "walked on foot" something over 3,500 miles across the continent, and slept in more section houses than hotels—there being more, then, on that route—I learned "Jerry, Go and Ile that Car." That is, the air and a few verses. Ever since that somewhat hurried time—with the snow knee-deep today, and a rather important billet for tomorrow—I have been trying to assemble that song. But there are no more of the old section gangs that lent me their dubious but kindly blankets. The man from Limerick is replaced with a Mexican peon or an Indian—both just as good, and human, and tuneful, and even more given to the making of songs—but the songs now are of altogether a different sort. The Larries that were section bosses when I believed in everybody—why, either they are dead, or they are Division Superintendents who are so busy with modern railroading that they have forgotten the old songs. In this search—which has covered nearly half the lifetime of a man of middle age, I have had the help of the best men in the West—the men who have grown up with it and made it. And only within a few weeks have we measurably succeeded.

"Jerry" was written, I am reasonably sure, in the year 1881; and was a product of the Santa Fé route. I know that it was written by a roving Connaught man who has no other name of record than "Riley, the Bum." He was a happy-go-lucky, hardworking, quick-fighting, section laborer. But he was also a minstrel. Both as music and as literature, the song he composed stands easily first of the "Come all ye's" that have ever been made as railroad songs. It is the mother tincture of the Track as it existed twenty years ago, and can by no human possibility exist again. It is the Real Thing. Arthur G. Wells, General Manager of the Santa Fé lines from New Mexico westward, has materially aided me in reassembling the scattered words. The transcription of the music is by that splendid young American, Arthur Farwell, who is doing so much and so well to establish a really American music. The words are here, and the air; but Mr. Farwell's "Wawan Press," Newton Center, Mass., will presently publish "Jerry" in sheet form, with all the words and the variation of notes, as a contribution to American Songs of the Soil.

The words of "Jerry" here printed are pretty nearly conclusive; but any one who can round them out will do a service to history.

"Jerry, Go An' Ile That Car-r!"
[An Old Irish Melody.] Words by "Riley, the Bum."
Transcribed by Arthur Farwell. Recorded by Chas. F. Lummis.


[1] Come all ye railroad section men,
An' listen to my song,
It is of Larry O'Sullivan,
Who now is dead and gone.
For twinty years a section boss,
He niver hired a tar—
Oh, it's "j'int ahead and cinter back,
An' Jerry, go an' ile that car-r-r!"

CHORUS.—For twinty years a section boss,
He niver hired a tar,
But it's "j'int ahead, and cinter back.
An' Jerry, go an' ile that car-r-r!"

[2] For twinty years a section boss
He worked upon the track,
And be it to his cred-i-it,
He niver had a wrack.
For he kept every j'int right up to the p'int
Wid the tap of the tampin'-bar-r;
And while the byes was a-shimmin' up the ties,
It's "Jerry, wud yez ile that car-r-r!"—CHO.

[3] God rest ye, Larry O'Sullivan,
To me ye were kind an' good;
Ye always made the section men
Go out and chop me wood;
An' fetch me wather from the well,
An' cut the kindlin' fine;
And anny man that wudn't lind a han'
'Twas Larry'd give him his Time.—CHO.

[4] And ivery Sunday marni-i-ing
Unto the gang he'd say:
"Me byes, prepare—yez be aware
The ould lady goes to church the day.
Now I want ivery man to pump the best that he can,
For the distance it is far-r-r;
An' we have to get in ahead of Number 10—
So, Jerry, go an' ile that car-r-r!"—CHO.

[5] 'Twas in November, in the winter time,
An' the ground all covered wid snow,
"Come, putt the hand-car-r on the track,
An' over the section go!"
Wid his big sojer coat buttoned up to his t'roat,
All weathers he wud dare—
An' it's "Paddy Mack, will yez walk the track,
An' Jerry, go an' ile that car-r-r!"—CHO.

[6] "Give my rispicts to the Roadmas-thér,"
Poor Larry he did cry,
"And lave me up, that I may see
The ould hand-car-r before I die.
And let it be said, on my death bed,
He niver hired a tar!
Come, jint ahead, and cinter back,
And Jerry, go and ile that car-r-r!"

CHO.—Then lay the spike-maul upon his chist,
The gauge an' the ould claw-bar-r,
And while the byes do be fillin' up the grave,
Oh, Jerry, go and ile that car-r-r!"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:52 PM

Fascinating!

Jim-

Are you sure about verse six? That is different from the way "Mac" McClintock sung it.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 11:37 PM

Jim, Great new insights on and around this vivid song.
Songs like this, for me, are like riding a train through the night and seeing a rather quick GLIMPSE of a bit of real life and history. The only thing to do is commit it to memory for saving, and then for the showing of it to others.

Good people, THAT is what this collecting of the tradition is all about---the process of encountering people who are holding close these gems of exuberant life lived and loved enough for someone to create a "tune frame" to hold the concise imagery of profound poetic narrative simplicity.---------Please pardon my excitement; I do think nthese kinds of threads are the best of what happens at this good site.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 11:40 PM

50 ;-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Amos
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:50 AM

Well said, Art. And that's the truth of it, too.


A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: GUEST,Birmingham Rails
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 10:23 PM

Hi,

Thanks to all for this fine information. I just learned "Jerry" from the Folkways CD mentioned in the thread. I am looking forward to singing it with my friends.

John "Birmingham Rails" Stewart
Hoover, AL


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jerry Go and Oil That Car
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 May 12 - 09:30 AM

refresh!


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