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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)


Joe Offer 20 Apr 05 - 11:57 PM
Joe Offer 20 Apr 05 - 11:44 PM
Stewie 20 Apr 05 - 08:47 PM
Stewie 20 Apr 05 - 08:26 PM
GUEST,Amos 20 Apr 05 - 07:39 PM
Deckman 20 Apr 05 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Amos 20 Apr 05 - 07:17 PM
Deckman 20 Apr 05 - 07:11 PM
Deckman 20 Apr 05 - 07:04 PM
Uncle_DaveO 20 Apr 05 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,harpgirl 20 Apr 05 - 06:04 PM
Amos 20 Apr 05 - 04:48 PM
Uncle_DaveO 20 Apr 05 - 04:33 PM
Dave Ruch 20 Apr 05 - 04:16 PM
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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 07:17 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 - 07:11 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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