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Origins: Rock Island Line

DigiTrad:
ROCK ME ON THE WATER
THE ROCK ISLAND LINE
THE ROCK ISLAND LINE (is a mighty fine line)


Related threads:
Tune Req: Rock Island Line (Leadbelly) - tabs (9)
Lyr Req: Rock Island Line (from Leadbelly) (35)
Rock Island Line Tues Jan4 BBC Radio4 (16)
Review: Lonnie Donegan - Rock Island Line (29)
Vauxhall Rock Island Line (20)
Paul Leegan Rock Island Line (5)
Lyr/Chords Req: Rock Island Line (Donegan) (3)


Ian Kirk 27 Dec 98 - 06:09 PM
gargoyle 27 Dec 98 - 09:55 PM
gargoyle 27 Dec 98 - 10:01 PM
gargoyle 27 Dec 98 - 10:17 PM
Jerrry & Bev 27 Dec 98 - 10:39 PM
Joe Offer 28 Dec 98 - 12:02 AM
Ian Kirk 30 Dec 98 - 09:39 AM
Liam's Brother 31 Dec 98 - 03:26 AM
GUEST,Hopewell 49@aol.com 05 Feb 00 - 09:53 PM
Sorcha 06 Feb 00 - 12:02 AM
paddymac 06 Feb 00 - 12:27 AM
Sorcha 06 Feb 00 - 12:33 AM
Metchosin 06 Feb 00 - 01:08 AM
GUEST,Gene 06 Feb 00 - 01:16 AM
Amos 06 Feb 00 - 06:53 PM
3-4 time 06 Feb 00 - 08:22 PM
Stewie 06 Feb 00 - 08:36 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Feb 00 - 12:37 AM
nancyjo 20 Oct 03 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,RC 10 Dec 03 - 06:11 PM
Roger the Skiffler 11 Dec 03 - 04:02 AM
greg stephens 11 Dec 03 - 05:25 AM
Art Thieme 11 Dec 03 - 11:54 AM
Roger in Baltimore 11 Dec 03 - 04:13 PM
Ed. 11 Dec 03 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 11 Dec 03 - 04:51 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Dec 03 - 06:43 PM
dick greenhaus 12 Dec 03 - 12:44 AM
greg stephens 12 Dec 03 - 02:05 AM
Art Thieme 12 Dec 03 - 05:27 PM
Joe Offer 20 Apr 10 - 03:49 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Sep 13 - 03:01 PM
Stringsinger 01 Sep 13 - 05:31 PM
Dave Hanson 02 Sep 13 - 03:31 AM
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Subject: Rock Isalnd Line
From: Ian Kirk
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 06:09 PM

I just posted a thread about the Wreck of the Old 97 and now I have another question.

Where is? and What was The Rock Island Line and is it true, as Lonnie Donegan says in his preamble to his version of the song, that all the trains that went through the toll gate had to pay the man some money unless you livestock on board in which case you could use the line free of charge.

Happy New Year

Ian


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Subject: RE: Rock Isalnd Line
From: gargoyle
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 09:55 PM

The "Rock Island" was one of the "lynch-pin" railroads that "stitched" the United States together.

One interesting web-site may be found at: http://www.ukans.edu/heritage/research/rr/rock.html


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Subject: RE: Rock Isalnd Line
From: gargoyle
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 10:01 PM

The direct answer to your question will be found at: Rock Island


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Subject: RE: Rock Isalnd Line
From: gargoyle
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 10:17 PM

Please, realize, that much like the thread on "intellectual property" the verses about the "Rock Island" are "poking-fun" at the ability to "slip-one-by" or "bye" or "buy" a large industrial conglomerate. An "awful" (original OE derivative "Full of Awe" ie "wonderful") lot of American songs take great pleasure in "giving-it-to-the-big-guy."

My opinion is, that in addition to "wonderful" "insider-innuendos" the "RailRoad Songs" like the "Cowboy" songs were able to capture the intrinsict rhythems within either the "rails" or the "trails."


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Subject: RE: Rock Isalnd Line
From: Jerrry & Bev
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 10:39 PM

"The Long Steel Rail" by Norm Cohen has an extensive history of this song from which we quote the following excerpts:

"This 1950s favorite of the folksong revival has always been associated with the great black folksinger Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), who, though he did not originate it, is unquestionably responsible for its popularity.

The song was first collected by John Lomax in 1934 on one of his tours of state prisons through the South searching for folk songs. He recorded it twice, first from a group of black convicts in Little Rock, Arkansas, and shortly thereafter from another group of black convicts lead by Kelly Pace, at Cummins State Farm, Gould, Arkansas. Lomax was told it was an Arkansas song and did not find it elsewhere. Leadbelly was employed as Lomax's chauffeur, and this was doubtless when he first heard 'The Rock Island Line'.

Leadbelly first recorded 'Rock Island Line' in June, 1937, for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. That selection, the text of which is transcribed here, has since been released on L.P. His spoken introduction of the song describes the log cutting that the song accompanied when he, with Lomax, heard it in Arkansas. In June, 1940, he recorded the song for RCA Victor with the Golden Gate Quartet, this time unaccompanied and without spoken introduction. In January, 1942, he recorded it a third time for Moses Asch, who subsequently released the piece on two of his 78 rpm labels, Asch and Disc. By now Leadbelly had begun to work out the spoken introduction about livestock and pig iron that we now think of as an integral part of the song. By the time of his fourth recording, for Capitol Records in Hollywood in October, 1944, (transcribed here) the introduction was nearly complete. It still lacked the final rejoinder of the engineer, who signaled to the depot agent, as his train gathered steam and disappeared from sight.

I fooled you, I fooled you I got iron I got all pig iron, I got all pig iron

This part appeared on Leadbelly's recording for Moses Asch, probably 1944-46, issued on Folkways FP14 (subsequently renumbered FA 2014): 'Rock Island Line'. During the last few years of his life, Leadbelly recorded the song again and performed it regularly at his numerous concerts and on various radio programs thus exposing people throughout the country to what was once strictly an Arkansas work song.

After Leadbelly's death, the song was picked up by other influential performers in the awakening folksong movement: English singer Lonnie Donegan recorded it in 1956 and had a hit on both sides of the Atlantic (it climbed to number ten of Billboard's pop charts that March) and it was later recorded by such successful artists as the Weavers, Odetta, the Tarriers, the Gateway Singers, and the Rooftop Singers."

Whew!!!


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 12:02 AM

Hey, Gargoyle - those are great sites, but I still didn't find the answer to the first question. Maybe it's there and I missed it - did they stop the trains and charge tolls according to the cargo? I've always wondered about that.
-Joe Offer-


Here's what the Traditional Ballad Index says about this song:

Rock Island Line (I), The

DESCRIPTION: "The Rock Island Line is a mighty good road, The Rock Island Line is the road to ride." About life in general, engineering on the Rock Island Line, and anything else that can be zipped into the song
AUTHOR: unknown (heavily adapted by Huddie Ledbetter)
EARLIEST DATE: 1934 (recording, Kelly Pace et al)
KEYWORDS: railroading train nonballad floatingverses
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Cohen-LSRail, pp. 472-477, "The Rock Island Line" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 102, "Rock Island Line" (1 text)
DT, ROCKISLL
ADDITIONAL: Moses Asch and Alan Lomax, Editors, _The Leadbelly Songbook_, Oak, 1962, pp. 80-81, "Rock Island Line" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #15211
RECORDINGS:
Lead Belly, "Rock Island Line" (on ClassRR)
Kelly Pace & group of prisoners, "Rock Island Line" (AFS 248 A1, 1934; on LC8, LCTreas)

NOTES: How much of this is genuinely "folk" is hard to tell. The earliest version collected [was] at Cummins Prison Farm (Arkansas) in 1934. The collection was made by John & Ruby Lomax; Lead Belly was their driver. Working from this and perhaps some floating material, Lead Belly created a song which he interspersed with patter about railroad work. The Weavers regularized this, and Alan Lomax added "new material"; one wonders if the prisoners would have recognized the result. - PJS, RBW
The core of the song performed by Lead Belly on his Library of Congress and early Asch recordings hews pretty closely to the version recorded by the prisoners; the Lomaxes' additions, if any, seem to have been minimal. - PJS
One of the verses found in revival versions is present [in the Pace recording on 1934], ("Jesus died to save me in all of my sin/Glory to God, we goin' to meet Him again"), as is the standard chorus.
Mr. Pace's name is spelled "Kelly" throughout LC8, but,"Kelley" on LC10. I have no idea which is correct. - PJS
Cohen uses the spelling "Kelly Pace," but of course he may have had the same problem.
Cohen also documents the evolution of the song, which apparently began as an Arkansas work song. Lead Belly, as noted, probably learned it in 1934. When he recorded it for the Library of Congress in 1937, he used a subset of the Pace verses, with a line of patter about cutting trees; the song is still a work song.
When Lead Belly recorded it again in 1944 for Capitol, he had added a couple of verses not from Pace ("I may be right and I may be wrong"; "A-B-C double X-Y-Z") and had a new line of railroad patter. Soon after, he recorded it for Folkways, in what seems to have become the canonical version, ending with him telling the rainroad agent, "I fooled you."
It's unfortunate we don't have more information about how Lead Belly performed the song in concert in these years. It's quite a demonstration of "live fire" folk process, though. - RBW
But we do; Lead Belly's only known live recording, made some six months before his death in 1949, includes "The Rock Island Line." He performs the patter as he does on his Folkways recordings, along with the additional "A, B, C" verse from the Capitol 78. He introduces the piece as a work song. -PJS
Last updated in version 3.5
File: FSWB102

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.


Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition:

THE ROCK ISLAND LINE (is a mighty fine line)
(Huddie Ledbetter)

A-B-C double X-Y-Z
Cat's in the cupboard and she cain't find me

cho: Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty fine line
Oh the Rock Island Line is the road to ride
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line.

Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong
Lawd you gonna miss me when I'm gone.

Jesus died to save our sins
Glory to God I'm gonna see Him again

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smotin' the water with a two-by-four etc.

@railroad
filename[ ROCKISLL
TUNE FILE: ROCKISLL
CLICK TO PLAY
RG





There's another Rock Island Line in the Digital Tradition that's a completely different song - and a very interesting one. Take a look.


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Ian Kirk
Date: 30 Dec 98 - 09:39 AM

Following the lead from gargoyle I checked with the good people of the Rock Island Line Technical Society and in summary:-

The preamble to the Rock Island Line is a shhhhhh - not true

The Rock Island Line never got further than a place called Eunice, Louisiana and it opened for business on Feb 1st 1908. It was planned to be extended to reach New Orleans but never made it. I guess somebody can put me straight here but it appears Eunice is miles from New Orleans. What's wuss is according to the knowledgeable there never was a tollbooth on any part of the railroad system in the USA. Freight was charged at different rates sure enough but there weren't no toll booth.

A couple of other interesting if not disturbing facts

A correspondent from Shreveport, Louisiana said

>>"One documentary of Huddie Ledbetter's life that I saw on cable TV shows him on a train that had recently departed Shreveport for East Texas and the scene depicted implied that he created, and sang, the "Rock Island Line" on board the train on that trip. The problem of course is that to my knowledge the Rock Island never came through, arrived at or departed from any depot in Shreveport, Louisiana."<<

And if that ain't all, a former telegrapher, dispatcher, and tower operator for L&A and SSW. pointed out a minor detail about the Wabash Cannonball.

>>She came down to Nashville one cold December day,
As she backed into the station, you could hear all the people say
There's a girl from Tennessee - she's long and she's tall
She came down from Birmingham on the Wabash Cannonball

Nashville or Birmingham never served by this train, or Wabash RR.

I guess if it rhymes, sing it. Good luck.<<

Interesting Huh?

So what do we do now guys and gals?

Don't go poking around for too many facts it can spoil a good lyric - Nah! Sod it! - Sing it anyway twice as loud and with as much stomp and go as you can muster - that's what I say. Facts - phooeee. Give us a song with a good chorus that everyone can join in with and stick the facts down the pan.

Ian


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Subject: RE: Rock Isalnd Line
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 03:26 AM

I have to side with Ian here when he says, "Don't go poking around for too many facts it can spoil a good lyric."

Songs were made for singers. Maps were made for geographers. Journals for historians. We are people with an interest in music, geography and history. Culture is not well served when we view these separately. There is so much beauty in the mystique, so much truth in the science!

Best wishes for 1999!
Dan


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Subject: rock island line+johnie cash
From: GUEST,Hopewell 49@aol.com
Date: 05 Feb 00 - 09:53 PM

would like lyrics of rock island line as sung by johnie cash about 20 yearsback


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Subject: Lyr Add: ROCK ISLAND LINE (from Johnny Cash)
From: Sorcha
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 12:02 AM

ROCK ISLAND LINE, by Huddie Ledbetter, as recorded by Johnny Cash in 1957, on "Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar."

Now, this here is the story about the Rock Island Line.
Well, the Rock Island Line she runs down into New Orleans.
There's a big tollgate down there,
And you know, if you got certain things on board when you go through the tollgate,
Well, you don't have to pay the man no toll.
Well, a train driver, he pulled up to the tollgate,
And the man hollered 'n' asked 'im what all he had on board,
And he said:

I got livestock. I got livestock.
I got cows. I got pigs. I got sheep.
I got mules. I got all livestock.

Well, they said, you're all right, boy.
You don't have to pay no toll.
You can just go right on through.
So he went on through the tollgate,
And as he went through, he started pickin' up a little bit o' speed,
Pickin' up a little bit o' steam.
He got on through, he turned, looked back 't the man, he said:

Well, I fooled you. I fooled you.
I got pig iron. I got pig iron.
I got all pig iron.

Down the Rock Island Line, she's a mighty good road.
Rock Island Line, it's the road to ride.
Rock Island Line, it's a mighty good road.
Well, if you ride, you got to ride it like you find it.
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.

Oh, cloudy in the west, and it look like rain.
Around the curve come a passenger train.
North-bound train on a south-bound track.
He's all right a-leavin' but he won't be back.

Well, the Rock Island Line she's a mighty good road.
Rock Island Line, it's the road to ride.
Rock Island Line, it's a mighty good road.
Well, if you ride, you got to ride it like you find it.
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.

Oh, I may be right and I may be wrong,
But you're gonna miss me when I'm gone.

Well, the engineer said before he died,
That there were two more drinks that he'd like to try.
Conductor said, what could they be?
A hot cup o' coffee, and a cold glass o' tea.

Well, the Rock Island Line, she's a mighty good road.
Rock Island Line, it's the road to ride.
Rock Island Line, it's a mighty good road.
Well, if you ride, you got to ride it like you find it.
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.


Whew, that's a long one!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: rock island line+johnie cash
From: paddymac
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 12:27 AM

IMHO, Lonnie Donnegan did the best version of this song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: rock island line+johnie cash
From: Sorcha
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 12:33 AM

There is apparently a Traditonal version of the song that does not include all the other stuff. I will post if anybody wants it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: rock island line+johnie cash
From: Metchosin
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 01:08 AM

paddymac,IMHO, that he did, particularly with Rory Gallager on guitar.


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Subject: ADD Version: Rock Island Line (Lonnie Donegan)
From: GUEST,Gene
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 01:16 AM

*LYRICS WORLD - LONNIE DONNEGAN's VERSION *

ROCK ISLAND LINE
(as sung by Lonnie Donegan)

Now this here's the story about the Rock Island Line
The Rock Island Line she runs down into New Orleans
It's just outside of New Orleans is a big toll gate
You know all the trains that go through the toll gate
They gotta pay the man some money
But of course, if you got certain things on board
You're okay and you don't have to pay the man nothin'
And just now we see a change comin down the line
When you come up to the toll gate
The driver, he shout down to the man and he says
I got pigs, I got horses, I got cows
I got sheep, I got all livestock, I got all livestock
I got all livestock

The man say, 'Well, you alright boy, just get on through
You don't have to pay me nothin'"
And then the train go through
And when he go through the tollgate
The train gotta have a little bit of steam and a little bit of speed
And when the driver think he safely on the other side
He shouts back down the line to the man and he says
I fooled you, I fooled you
I got pig iron, I got pig iron
I got all pig iron

Now I'll tell you where I'm goin' boy
Down the rock island line is a might good road
The rock island line is the road to ride, yeah
The rock island line is a mighty good road
Well, if you want to ride you gotta ride it like you find it get your ticket at the station
Of the rock island line

I may be right, I may be wrong
You know, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone

Down the rock island line is a might good road
Oh, the rock island line is the road to ride
The rock island line is a mighty good road
If you want to ride you gotta ride it like you find it get your ticket at the station
Of the rock island line

Hey you, are safe within
The good Lord's comin' to see me again
Down the rock island line is a might good road
Oh, the rock island line is the road to ride
The rock island line is a mighty good road
If you want to ride you gotta ride it like you find it get your ticket at the station
Of the rock island line

A, B, C, W, X, Y, Z
The cat's on the cupboard but he don't see me

Down the rock island line is a might good road
Oh, the rock island line is the road to ride
The rock island line is a mighty good road
If you want to ride you gotta ride it like you find it get your ticket at the station
Of the rock island line

Rock island line is a might good road
Oh, the rock island line is the road to ride
The rock island line is a mighty good road
If you want to ride you gotta ride it like you find it get your ticket at the station
Of the rock island line.

Songwriters: Lonnie Donegan

Rock Island Line lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

Lonnie Donegan performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI4nRD-DRpk


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: rock island line+johnie cash
From: Amos
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 06:53 PM

THis one has been a favorite with kidlets for decades -- they especially get a kick out of the engineer yelling "I fooooooooled you!" -- you draw it out, with a fast Travis strum behind it mimicking an engine picking up speed, and they eat it up. Dunno why! <:>)

A


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: rock island line+johnie cash
From: 3-4 time
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 08:22 PM

thanks to all on the rock island line question


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Subject: Lyr Add: ROCK ISLAND LINE (from John Lomax)
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 08:36 PM

The recording from which, according to Norm Cohen, Leadbelly most probably learned the song was made by John Lomax from a group of convicts at Cummins Farm in Gould, Arkansas, in 1934:

ROCK ISLAND LINE

I says the Rock Island Line (lead)
Is a mighty good road (all)
I says the Rock Island Line (lead)
Is the road to ride (all)
I says the Rock Island Line (lead)
Is a mighty good road (all)
If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'(all)
Buy your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line (all)

Well, Jesus died to save me in all of my sin (lead)
Well-a, glory to God, we goin' to meet Him again (all)

I says ...

Well, the train left Memphis at half pas' nine (lead)
Well, it made it back to Little Rock at eight forty-nine (all)

I says ...

Well, Jesus died to save me in all of my sin (lead)
Well-a glory to God, we goin' to meet Him again (all)

I says ...

Source: Various Artists 'Train 45: Railroad Songs of the Early 1900s' Rounder CD 1143.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: rock island line+johnie cash
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 12:37 AM

In the movie The General's Daughter, there's an especially nice early version by Kelly Pace (available, of course on CD from Camsco Music). .


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: rock island line+johnie cash
From: nancyjo
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 09:09 AM

Regarding the Johnny Cash version quoted, isn't it "the CONDUCTOR said what could they be?" and not "The Dr. said..."?


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: GUEST,RC
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 06:11 PM

If anyone is still interested in the song or the railroad this site is worth a look ( the word dot takes place of the . to be safe sending this mail)   http://news dot mpr dot org/features/200210/15_bickalj_rockisland

For maps of the RR click the link 'Rock Island Railroad History'
The songs history is here as well as various artists that have recorded the song.


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 04:02 AM

When I do this song, semi-comically, I point out the problems brought about by privatisation of the railways: the fact that no bill of lading, or other documentation is required to identify the cargo, the word of the driver, whose interest is in avoiding toills, is accepted by tollbooth man and tollbooth man can't tell difference between cattle truck and bulk ore wagon...
Still a damn good song tho'

RtS
(I may be right....)


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: greg stephens
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 05:25 AM

Earlier in this thread there is a reference to Lonnie Donegan's historic recording of "Rock Island Line", which kick started the British rock, blues and folk renaissance in the late 50's and 60's. The date given was 1956. That was indeed when the record became a hit, but it was actually recorded in 1954, and the 50 year celebrations will hopefully lead to fun and frolics this coming year wherever Lonnie's memory is revered.


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 11:54 AM

Rock Island, Illinois is on the Mississippi River. I've always thought that the railroad took it's name from this city---one of four that are known as the QUAD CITIES. They are Rock Island, Moline, Illinois, Bettendorf, Iowa, and another that escapes me at the moment. They were all just south of LeClaire, Iowa which is where the Julia Belle Swain (stemboat) and the Twilight (Diesel-electric) were based out of during the 1980s and the 1990s. (I folksang and told tall tales on both boats for a decade.)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 04:13 PM

Gee, I'm at work so I can follow up, but I know I have a recording of this as a work song. I always suspected Lead Belly learned it the hard way, by doing time. I'll have to check it out.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Ed.
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 04:32 PM

The date given was 1956. That was indeed when the record became a hit, but it was actually recorded in 1954, and the 50 year celebrations will hopefully lead to fun and frolics this coming year

Fai point, Greg. But surely the time that it became hugely influential is more important than when it was recorded?

I'd reckon 2006 is the year to celebrate it.

Ed


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 04:51 PM

That fourth Quad city is Davenport, Iowa

I actually enjoyed the Johnny Cash version the most on this song.


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 06:43 PM

Kelly Pace and seven other prisoners, as noted in thread 39471 by Masato Sakurai (words posted), sang the song to Lead Belly and Lomax in 1934 at Cummins farm, AK, and Lead Belly revised the song for his repertoire. The original 1934 recording of Pace appears on "Negro Work Songs and Calls," Rounder No. 1517, with 18 other songs.

American Memory has the song, sung in 1939 by a group of prisoners at Cummins Farm, AK, but it has been influenced by the Ledbetter version. Unfortunately, they don't have the original Pace recording on line.


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Dec 03 - 12:44 AM

The Kelly Pace version can be heard on Steve Wades's marvelous CD "A Treasury of Library of Congress field recordings. And if you have any pretentions towards interest in American folk music and you haven't obtained this CD, DO SO IMMEDIATELY!. (Rounder 1500---$12.98 at CAMSCO).


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Dec 03 - 02:05 AM

Ed: it is always worth celebrating Lonnie. 1954 when he made the record, 1956 when he had the hit.Then there will be the anniversary of his first Number 1 etc etc. The juggernaut will be UNSTOPPABLE.
   And while this thread has covered Leadbelly's geographical inaccuracy on the subject of the Rock Island Line, how abour Robert Johnson's assertion that Sweet Home Chicago was in California?


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 Dec 03 - 05:27 PM

i.e. Rock Island: This is where the Rock River joins the Mississippi River. The island is/was an ammunition storage area.


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Subject: Lyr Add: ROCK ISLAND LINE (from the Weavers)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 03:49 AM

When the Weavers recorded this song, they used a lot of verses from Jay Gould's Daughter.
Don't know if it's traditional to sing it that way, or if the Weavers made it up.
-Joe-

Here's my transcription


ROCK ISLAND LINE
As recorded by The Weavers on "The Best of the Decca Years"

CHORUS: Oh, the Rock Island Line, it is a mighty good road.
Oh, the Rock Island Line, it is the road to ride.
The Rock Island Line, it is a mighty good road.
But if you want to ride, got to ride it like you find it,
Get your ticket at the station for the Rock Island Line.

1. Cloudy in the West, looks like rain
Bought me a ticket on the railroad train.
Pour on the water, shovel on the coal,
Stick your head out the window, see the drivers roll. CHORUS

2. The seven forty-five was always late,
But arrived today at a quarter to eight.
The engineer said when they cheered his name,
"We're right on time, but this is yesterday's train." CHORUS

3. The engineer said, before he died,
"There's two more drinks that I would like to try."
The conductor said, "What can they be?"
"A hot glass of water and a cold cup of tea." CHORUS

4. The eastbound train was on the westbound track,
The northbound train was on the southbound track;
The conductor hollered, "Now, ain't this fine,
What a peculiar way to run a railroad line." CHORUS


Other Weavers recordings of this song use the Leadbelly lyrics, with additional verses:
    Little Evalina, sittin' in the shade,
    Countin' all the money that the Weavers ain't made.

    Jesus died to save our sins,
    Glory to God, we're gonna need him again.

    Little Evalina, sittin' in the sun,
    Countin' all the Weavers, one by one by one.

    Moses stood by the Red Sea shore,
    Whackin' on the water with a two-by-four.


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Subject: ADD: A Famous Railway Line (J.A. Roff)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Sep 13 - 03:01 PM

The justly famous "Rock Island Line" served the richest heartland of America, including Milwaukee, Council Bluffs, Davenport-Rock Island on the Mississippi River, Keokuk, Peoria, Omaha, Chicago, and its westward branch, Rock Island and Pacific, to Kansas City. Its passenger services included the George Pullman cars with their luxurious fittings and fine dining cars.

This song, from its heyday, was dedicated to the "General Ticket and Passenger Agent of a famous Railway Line." The title sheet of the sheet music shows a detailed map of the Great Rock Island and Albert Lea Routes, 1883.

A FAMOUS RAILWAY LINE !
(Song and chorus by J. A. Roff, 1883)

1
Oh, hark! unto a magic name resounding through the land-
From North to South, from East to West 'tis heard on every hand-
A name that shines e'en as a star whose beams shall ne'er decline-
'Tis called the "Great Rock Island Route," the famous railway line-

Chorus-
Oh! Great Rock island route of thee we sing- thy praises tell.

Thy name shall ever be a star in memory.
Yes, of thee we sing, and thy praises tell
Thy name shall ever be, a star in memory.
(Repeat last two lines)

2
How grand to see their mighty trains go dashing, speeding on-
Awaking quaint old forests with the music of their song-
Well loaded down with human freight, from ev'ry world and clime-
All happy as they journey on this famous railway line-
3
To reach the famous distant West, the land of setting sun-
Where lofty mountains tower high unto the clouds among-
Or e'en to reach the northern lake, or sunny southern clime-
Be sure your ticket reads, by the way, the "Great Rock Island" line-
4
Equipp'd with Palace "Dining Cars," with "Sleepers" rich and grand-
Traversing regions picturesque, the "Eden" of the land-
Thus comfort, time and happiness, with safety all combine-
To make the "Great Rock Island Route," the famous railway line-
5
E'er as the rippling mountain stream, speeds joyful on its way-
As just above the darkest cloud the brightest sunbeams play-
So shall the "Great Rock Island" line, through years of coming time-
A fav'rite with the people all, a famous railway line-


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Sep 13 - 05:31 PM

The Weavers popularized the song to a minor degree in concert learning it from Huddie Ledbetter aka Leadbelly. Lonnie Donegan took it from Leadbelly which is fair enough except that he demanded Moe Asch to pay him royalties for it, a presumptuous move on his part.
Asch explained that he would be happy to oblige Mr. Donegan by inviting him to come by
and Asch would break Leadbelly's records over his head one by one.

I don't think Moe would have done this but the message was clear.


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Subject: RE: Rock Island Line
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 02 Sep 13 - 03:31 AM

The Lonnie Donegan version although a hit in the UK was a travesty of Leadbelly's great song.

Dave H


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