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DTStudy: Danville Girl

DigiTrad:
DANVILLE GIRL
DANVILLE GIRL (2)
WAITING FOR A TRAIN


Related threads:
Tune Req: All around the Water Tank? (J Rodgers) (10)
Lyr Req: All Around the Water Tank? (J Rodgers) (15)
Lyr Add: Waiting For a Train (Jimmie Rodgers) (14)


Joe Offer 20 Oct 05 - 01:16 AM
Joe Offer 20 Oct 05 - 01:44 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Oct 05 - 01:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Oct 05 - 01:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Oct 05 - 02:23 PM
bill kennedy 20 Oct 05 - 02:29 PM
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Subject: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 01:16 AM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

Search for other DTStudy threads


Somebody sang this at our song circle the other night, and I don't believe I've heard it before. I found two versions in the Digital Tradition and many listed in the Traditional Ballad Index, and I thought it might be worthwhile to see what we can dig up on it.
Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum) [Laws H2]

DESCRIPTION: The reckless hobo cannot stay still; the sound of a train keeps calling him. (He may become involved with various girls, but even they cannot hold him.)
AUTHOR: (credited to Jimmie Rodgers by John Greenway)
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (recording, George Reneau)
KEYWORDS: railroading train travel rambling floatingverses
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,So,SE)
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Laws H2, "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum) "
Randolph 836, "A Wild and Reckless Hobo" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 456-457, "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home" (1 text, 1 tune, which from its form appears to go here although the plot is somewhat different; the singer misses the true love who abandoned him)
Davis-More 29, pp. 221-228, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (3 texts plus a fragment, 2 tunes; the two longest texts, AA and DD, both contain floating material, in the case of "D" probably from this piece)
BrownII 30, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts, 5 excerpts, 1 fragment, plus mention of two more; the final text, M, probably combined with this piece)
BrownIII 359, "The Wild and Reckless Hobo" (1 text); 361, "Waiting for a Train" (1 short text)
Hudson 111, pp. 250-251, "The Railroad Bum" (1 text)
Fuson, pp. 128-129, "Ten Thousand Miles From Home" (1 text)
Lomax-AFSB, pp. 28-30, "Ten Thousand Miles from Home" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Ohrlin-HBT 42, "Sam's 'Waiting for a Train'" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 54, "Danville Girl" (1 text)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 130, "At the Jail" (2 texts, 1 tune; the result looks to me to be a mix between this and "Logan County Jail," though it's one of those vague cases....)
DT 781, DANVGIRL (DANVILL2)

Roud #699
RECORDINGS:
Bill Baker, "Wild and Reckless Hobo" (Brunswick 445, c. 1930)
Dock Boggs, "Danville Girl" (Brunswick 132B, 1927); (on Boggs2, BoggsCD1)
Burnett & Rutherford, "Ramblin' Reckless Hobo" (Columbia 15240-D, 1928 (rec. 1927); on BurnRuth01)
Vernon Dalhart, "Wild and Reckless Hobo" (Brunswick 2942, 1925)
Morgan Denmon, "Wild and Reckless Hobo" (Velvet Tone 2366-V, 1930); "The Wild and Reckless Hobo" (OKeh 45327, 1929)
Dixon Brothers, "The Girl I Left in Danville" (Montgomery Ward M-7337, c. 1937/Bluebird B-7674, 1938)
Bob Miller's Hinky Dinkers, "Wild and Reckless Hobo" (Brunswick 445/Supertone S-2059, 1930)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Danville Girl" (on NLCR06)
Pine Mountain Ramblers [or Virginia Mountain Boomers], "Ramblin' Reckless Hobo" (Champion 15610, 1928; Supertone 9305, 1929)
Charlie Powers, "The Wild and Reckless Hobo" (CYL: Edison 5131, n.d.)
George Reneau, "Wild and Reckless Hoboes" (Vocalion 14999, 1925)
Pete Seeger, "Danville Girl" (on PeteSeeger02, PeteSeegerCD01)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Bigler" (meter)
cf. "More Pretty Girls Than One" (words, tune)
cf. "Waiting For a Train (II)" (subject, some lyrics)
Notes: I question the attribution of this to Rodgers, as it seems to take quite a few forms. It seems more likely that he used floating verses in composing his song, "Waiting for a Train." - PJS
You'll note that I didn't say I believed Rodgers wrote it. - RBW
Paul Stamler suggests that "The Danville Girl" subtext deserves separate listing, noting that "It has certain verses that set it apart, including the'You bet your life she's out of sight/She wore those Danville curls' and 'She wore her hair on the back of her head/Like high-toned people do.' It's also got floating verses, including some from "Gambling Man...." The difficulty, for me at least, is that none of these are characteristic of the song; I've seen versions without either verse. Thus, while the extremes are different, there is no good way to draw a line. We could simply call all texts which mention Danville "The Danville Girl" -- but there are otherwise identical versions which omit that key name. Plus, the Brown "Wild and Reckless Hobo" text is certainly a "Danville Girl" version, but Laws lists it here. - RBW, PJS
From Alan Lomax's notes to PeteSeeger02, "There are stanzas in this one from so many different hobo songs, sung in so many different ways, that one might call this the master hobo song. Actually I had some hand in mixing the verses together in American Ballads and Folk Songs (Macmillan, 1934), from which this version comes." Can we say, "smoking gun"? - PJS
I wonder if that might explain the Danville Girl mixup, too.... - RBW
Naw. That was already going on when Dock Boggs recorded the song in 1927. - PJS
File: LH02

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.



Here's the first version we have in the Digital Tradition, source not shown:

DANVILLE GIRL

My pocket book was empty,
My heart was full of pain.
Ten thousand miles away from home
Bumming a railroad train.

I was standing on the platform
Smoking a cheap cigar
Listening for that next freight train
To carry an empty car.

Well I got off at Danville
Got stuck on a Danville girl
You bet your life she's out of sight
She wore those Danville curls.

She took me in her kitchen
She treated me nice and kind
She got me in the notion
Of bumming my last time.

She wore her hair on the back of her head
Like high-toned people do,
But the very next train come down that line
I bid that girl adieu.

I pulled my cap down over my eyes
Walked down to the railroad track
Then I caught a westhound freight;
Never did look back.

Recorded by Seeger
DT #781
Laws H2
@hobo @train @love
filename[ DANVGIRL
RG

Here's the second one:

DANVILLE GIRL (2)
(Adapted from Trad. by Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston.)

I went down to the railroad yard, watch that train come by,
Knew the train would roll that day, but I did not know what time.

I did not know what time, boys, did not know what time.
Knew the train would roll that day but I did not know what time.

Good morning Mister Railroad Man, what time does your train roll by?
Nine-sixteen and two-forty-four, twenty-five minutes 'til five.

At nine-sixteen, two-forty-four, twenty-five minutes 'til five.
Thank you Mister Railroad Man, I wanna watch your train roll by.

Standing on the platform, smoking a big cigar,
Waitin' for some old freight train that carries an empty car.

I rode her down to Danville Town, got stuck on a Danville girl,
Bet your life she was a pearl, she wore that Danville curl.

She wore her hat on the back of her head like high-tone people all do,
Very next train come down taht track, I bid that girl adieu.

I bid that girl adieu, poor boys, I bid that girl adieu,
The very next train come down that track, I bid that girl adieu.

From the singing of Woody Guthrie. Folkways FA 2484.
(c) Copyright 1963 Stormking Music, Inc.
[Compare to the chorus of "Brownsville Girl", co-written by Bob Dylan
and Sam Shephard, working title "New Danville Girl" (available on the
1986 album "Knocked Out Loaded"):

Brownsville girl with your Brownsville curl,
Teeth like pearls shining like the moon above.
Brownsville girl, show me all around the world.
Brownsville girl, you're my honey love.

DT #781
Laws H2
@train @rambling @parting
filename[ DANVILL2
XX

PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted ©. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.


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Subject: ADD Version: Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home^^
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 01:44 AM

Here's the version from Sandburg's American Songbag (1927)

Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home

Ten thousand miles away from home,
And I don't even know my name.
For thinkin' about the woman I love,
Ran away with another man.

I went down to the old depot,
The trains were a-passin' by;
Looked through the bars, saw the woman I love,
And I hung my head and cried.

Standing on the street corner,
And the girl I loved passed by;
She shrugged her shoulder and passed me by,
And I tucked my head and cried.




Alternate verses:

I went down to the railroad
Where the big six-wheelers ran;
I saw my woman sitting there
In the arms of another man.

I stood on the street corner;
It was shortly after dark;
Along came a man with the woman I love,
And I stabbed him through the heart.

"Well it's please, Mr. Judge, now please, Mr. Judge,
It's what are you goin' to do with me?"
He says, "If I find you guilty, dear boy,
I'm goin' to send you to the penitentiary."


Click to play

^^


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 01:25 PM

Lyr. Add: WAITING FOR A TRAIN
Version of Sam Hess, Mountain View, Arkansas

I was born and raised in Texas, a state that you all know.
I got on that Katy train, so cold I could hardly go.
I rode down to memphis, and I got off to warm,
Looked out for that Katy train, but the Katy train was gone.

Chorus:
They left me standing on a platform, a-waiting for a train,
So cold and hungry I lay down, my heart was filled with pain.
I'm thinking of those good old days, I wish they'd come again,
A thousand miles away from home, trying to catch an old freight train.

I went up to a lady and I asked for something to eat,
A little piece of bread and a little piece of meat.
A little piece of punkin pie would soothe my appetite.
I aim to ride that old freight train a thousand miles tonight.

Well, I went up to kansas, I didn't go to stay.
I fell in love with some Kansas girls and I had to run away.
Good-bye to all you Kansas folks, I'll bid you all adieu,
And when that old freight train runs out I'll see no more of you.

Chorus:

With music, Ch. 42, Sam's "Waiting For a Train," pp. 103-105, Glenn Ohrlin, 1973, "The Hell-Bound Train," Univ. Illinois Press.

Norm Cohen, in "Long Steel Rail," pp. 355-366, discusses origins and gives several versions of the song, or songs, and long list of references and recordings. It is a difficult complex to tackle, with roots in the late 19th century, and variants by everyone who ever sang it.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 01:45 PM

Lyr. Add: WAITING FOR A TRAIN
Jimmie Rodgers, 1928

All around the water tank, waitin' for a train,
A thousand miles away from home, sleeping in the rain;
I walked up to a brakeman to give him a line of talk,
He says, "If you've got money, I'll see that you don't walk."
"I haven't got a nickel, not a penny can I show."
"Get off, get off, you railroad bum," he slammed the boxcar do'.

Yodel

He put me off in Texas, a state I dearly love,
The wide-open spaces all around me, the moon and stars up above;
Nobody seems to want me, or lend me a helping hand,
I'm on my way from Frisco, I'm going back to Dixie land;
Though my pocketbook is empty, and my heart is full with pain,
I'm a thousand miles away from home, just waiting for a train.

Yodel

With music, pp. 356-357, Norm Cohen, 1981, "Long Steel Rail," Univ. Illinois Press.
A study in progress by Dr, D. K. Wilgus of UCLA is mentioned by Cohen.
An English broadside, "Standing on the Platform," may be an ancestor. Re-compositions of this ballad seem to have been popular in the 1870s-1900 (Cohen, p. 357).


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Subject: ADD: WILD AND RECKLESS HOBO
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 02:23 PM

WILD AND RECKLESS HOBO
George Reneau, 1925

A wild and reckless hobo (he) left his happy home,
Started out on a western trip, all by himself alone;
He said, "While on this western trip I guess I'll have some fun,"
Standing at the station house this was the song he sung.

Standing on a platform, smoking a cheap cigar,
Waiting for a freight train to catch an empty car;
Thinking of those good old times and wishing they'd come again,
A thousand miles away from home, bumming a railroad train.

"Kind miss, oh, kind miss, won't you gimme a bite to eat,
A little piece of cold corn bread, a little piece of meat?"
She threw her arms around me, says, "I love you as a friend,
But if I give to you this time you'll go bumming around again."

"Kind miss, oh, kind miss, don't talk to me so rough,
You think I am a hobo because I look so tough."
She took me in her kitchen, she treated me nice and kind,
She got me in the notion of bumming all the time.

When I left the kitchen, went strolling down in town,
I heard a doubleheader blow, I thought it was western bound;
I walked up to the railroad, up to the railroad shop,
I heard the agent tell a man that freight train would not stop.

My heart began to roam around and I began to sing,
If that freight train goes through this town, I'll catch it on a wing;
I pulled my cap down over my eyes and stepped up to the track,
I caught the stirrup of an empty car but never did look back.

I got off in Danville, got stuck on a Danville girl,
You bet your life she was out of sight, for she wore those Danville curls,
She wore her hat on the back of her head like high-tone people do,
And as that train pulled out from there I bid that girl adieu.

While I'm your city, boys, trying to do what's right,
Don't think because I'm a railroad boy that I am not all right;
My pocketbook is empty, my heart is filled of pain,
A thousand miles away from home, bumming a railroad train.

With music, pp. 355-356, Norm Cohen, 1981, "Long Steel Rail," Univ. Illinois Press.
George Reneau, vocal and guitar, recorded Feb. 24, 1925, Brunswick Vocalion master419-W, NYC, released on (Brunswick) Vocalion 14999, in 1925.
"First recording of any form of the song transcribed in this book."
Cohen, p. 362.
Statements that the song was composed by Jimmie Rodgers are incorrect.

American cowboy and travelling songs, whether hobo or Beacon Hill, often have 'adieu' in one or more lines. The word is common in 19th c. American writing and newspapers, having been incorporated into the American language. Comments that it doesn't 'belong' because it is 'French' are wrong.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: bill kennedy
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 02:29 PM

Spider John Koerner does a lovely version of 'Danville Girl' on the cd with Jack Elliott and Utah Phillips, recorded live in Minneapolis. can't remember the name of the cd but it also has the best version of Ramblin' Jack's '912 Greens' ever recorded by him as well. worth having. great song


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: bill kennedy
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 02:31 PM

'Legends of Folk' on Redhouse Records


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 05:19 PM

In 1931, H. H. Fuson published a version of "Ten Thousand Miles from Home," in "Songs of the Kentucky Highlands." Several verses are identical to those sung by Reneau in 1925, if the copy of the Fuson version, B in Lomax and Lomax, ABFS, is accurate. I have not seen this book, so I don't know if there is evidence of the 'Danville girl' before Reneau's recording. The Lomaxes credit version B of "Ten Thousand Miles From Home," which includes the Danville verses, to Fuson's book, but apparently in a letter to Seegar, the Lomaxes said their version was a sort of compilation. Fuson's book, printed in England, is rare, but perhaps someone can check the song and comments in a library.
Doc Boggs recorded "Danville Girl" in 1927, Brunswick 132.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Oct 05 - 10:04 PM

"Wild and Reckless Hobo," sung by Bill Baker in 1930 on Brunswick 445, is listed in The Traditional Ballad Index. In the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection is the same song, sung by Bill Baker, with guitar, Saint Paul, Arkansas, Oct. 1973, Real Audio and text.

This somewhat different version speaks of the Denver Girl, and adds a verse from a version of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" at the end.
Wild and Reckless Hobo

Note new website address for this collection.


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Subject: ADD: The Negro Bum
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Oct 05 - 05:22 PM

Lyr. Add: THE NEGRO BUM

I wus goin' down the railroad, hungry an' wanted to eat,
I ask white lady for some bread an' meat,
She giv' me bread an' coffee, an' treated me mighty kin',
If I could git them good handouts, I'd quit work, bum all the time.

Well, the railroad completed, the cars upon the track,
Yonder comes two dirty hobos with grip-sacks on dere backs,
One look like my brother, the other my brother-in-law,
They walk all the way from Mississippi to the state of Arkansas.

This fragment shows that "Waiting For a Train" was collecting variants long before recordings were made of the song. Collected from Negroes resident in Newton Co., GA, before 1911.

No. 58, "The Negro Bum," p. 353, Howard W. Odum, 1911, "Folk-Song and Folk Poetry as Found in the Secular Songs of the Southern Negroes- concluded," Jour. American Folklore, vol. 24, Oct.-Dec. 1911.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Oct 05 - 05:39 PM

Lyr, Add: DANVILLE GIRL (3)
(Lomax-Seegar notes)

Oh, I went down to Danville,
Got stuck on a Danville girl.
You bet your life she's out of sight,
She wears those Danville curls.

She wears her hair on the back of her head
Like all high-toned people do.
The very first train that leaves this town
I'm goin' to bid that girl adieu.

I don't see why I love that girl,
For she never cared for me.
But still my mind is on that girl
Wherever she may be.

Look up, look down this lonesome road
Hang down your head and cry.
The very best friends have to part some time,
Then why can't you and I?

It's forty miles through the rock,
It's sixty miles through the sand,
Oh, I relate to you the life
Of a many poor married man.

The first three verses hang together, and identifies the song. The last two are filler (three very popular songs brought to mind in verse 4, and one or two more in verse 5).

"From Alan Lomax's notes to Pete Seegar02, "There are stanzas in this one from so many different hobo songs, sung in so many different ways, that one might call this the master hobo song. Actually I had some hand in mixing the verses together [an old Lomax trick] in American Ballads and Folk Songs (Macmillan, 1934), from which this version comes." Posted in "Bluegrass Messengers:"" Danville Girl

"Brownsville Girl" by Dylan uses a couple of lines from this song, but it is really a different song.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Matt (Tree Folk Music)
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 03:09 PM

We recently learned this tune from The Foghorn String Band (from Portland, Oregon). Different lyric structure, but still the same tune. Cant remember the album name off-hand. Great tune! I sure am glad it's traditional folk because we recorded it already.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 03:53 PM

Lee Sexton does a haunting version of "Danville Girl" on his "Who Mule" recording for Appalshop. I took the title to refer to Danville, Ky., as Lee lives in Linefork, Kentucky, and would guess that the lineage of his song goes back thru Roscoe Halcomb (one of his relatives), to Dock Boggs and, judging from comments here, to Mr. Reneau. John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers collected extensively in area and could have picked it up here -- then again, the NLCR collected in a lot of places.


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Subject: RE: PLEASE HELP!!! - Dying Hobo?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 02:11 PM

Here's a version attributed to Johnny Cash - but of course, the attribution is misleading....


Waiting for a Train
(as recorded by Johnny Cash)

All around the water tank waitin' for a train
A thousand miles away from home sleeping in the rain
I walked up to a brakeman just to give him a line of talk
He said if you've got money I'll see that you don't walk
Well I haven't got a nickel not a penny can I show
He said get off you railroad bum and he slammed the boxcar door
[ piano ]

Well he put me off in Texas a place I dearly love
The wide open spaces all around me the moon and stars above
Nobody seems to want me nor to lend me a helping hand
I'm on my way from Frisco headin' back to Dixie Land
My pocketbook is empty my heart is willed with pain
I'm a thousand miles away from home just waitin' for a train

source: http://www.lyrics007.com/Johnny%20Cash%20Lyrics/Waiting%20For%20A%20Train%20Lyrics.html

Also attributed to Merle Haggard, Beck, Jimmie Rodgers, and by loose connection to the Grateful Dead (er, Old and in the Way):

Waiting For A Train

Lyrics: Jimmie Rodgers
Music: Jimmie Rodgers

Sung by Ramblin' Jack Elliott with Old And In The Way on 4 November 1973. The lyrics below are taken from Ramblin' Jack's version (recorded under the title "All Around The Water Tank")

All around the water tank, waiting for a train
A thousand miles away from home, sleeping in the rain
I walked up to a brakeman just to give him a line of talk
He said "If you got money, boy, I'll see that you don't walk
I haven't got a nickel, not a penny can I show
"Get off, get off, you railroad bum" and slammed the boxcar door

He put me off in Texas, a state I dearly love
The wide open spaces all around me, the moon and the stars up above
Nobody seems to want me, or lend me a helping hand
I'm on my way from Frisco, going back to Dixieland
My pocket book is empty and my heart is full of pain
I'm a thousand miles away from home just waiting for a train
Recordings
None with Jerry Garcia. Ramblin' Jack Elliott's version is on his CD "Ramblin' Jack". There's also a version by Dickey Betts on "The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers: A Tribute" which also has the Garcia/Grisman version of "Blue Yodel #9."

source: http://www3.clearlight.com/~acsa/intro.htm


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Subject: ADD Version: Around a Western Water Tank
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 02:39 PM

Around a Western Water Tank

Around a western water tank
A-waitin' for a train,
A thousand miles away from home
A-sleepin' in the rain,
I walked up to the brakeman
And give him a line of talk.
He said, 'If you've got money
I'll see that you don't walk.'

'I haven't got a nickel,
Not a penny can I show.'
Get off, get off, you railroad bum—'
And he slammed the boxcar door.
He put me off in Texas,
A state I dearly love.
Wide open spaces all round me,
The moon and stars above.

Standing on the platform
Smoking a cheap cigar,
A-listenin' for the next freight train
To catch an empty car.
My pocket-book was empty,
My heart was full of pain,
A thousand miles away from home,
A-bummin' a railroad train.

I next got off in Danville,
Got stuck on a Danville girl.
You can bet your life she was out of sight,
She wore those Danville curls.
She took me in her kitchen,
She treated me nice and kind,
She got me in the notion
Of bummin' all the time.

As I left the kitchen
And went down in the town,
I heard a double-header blow
And she was western bound.
My heart began to flutter
And I began to sing,
'Ten thousand miles away from home
A-bummin' a railroad train.'

I pulled my cap down over my eyes,
And walked on down the tracks,
Then I caught an empty car
And never did look back.


from Alan Lomax, The Folk Songs of North America, 1960 - #219

Click to play


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Subject: ADD Version: Ten Thousand Miles from Home
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 04:40 PM

I get a kick out of this one - it's obviously mixed with Bigler's Crew and "Knickerbocker Line."

Ten Thousand Miles from Home

Chorus:
Watch her and catch her
And jump her juberju,
Release the brakes and let her go,
The bums will ride her through.

Chorus:
Don't stop for water,
Just catch it on the fly,
Will I get Holy Moses,
On the Pennsylvania line!

Get out, get out, you dirty bum,
You're on the Nashville train,
Ten thousand miles away from home,
Riding an old freight train.
or
Ten thousand miles away from home
My heart was filled with pain.

as sung by a seventy-one-year-old ex-jailbird, a one-legged, "retired" Negro in New Orleans

from Lomax & Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs, 1934 - page 29


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Subject: ADD Version: Ten Thousand Miles from Home
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 06 - 04:50 PM

Here's version B from Lomax & Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs, 1934 - page 29

Ten Thousand Miles from Home

Standing on the platform,
Smoking a cheap cigar,
A-listening for the next freight train
To catch an empty car,

My pocketbook was empty,
My heart was full of pain,
Ten thousand miles away from home,
A-bumming the railroad train.

And I was cold and hungry,
And had not a bite to eat;
I laid me down to take a nap
And rest my weary feet.

Then I walked up to a kind miss,
And asked for a bite to eat,
A little piece of cornbread
And a little piece of meat.

She threw her arms around me:
"I love you as a friend,
But if I gave you this to eat
You'd bum 'round here again."

"Kind miss, kind miss,
Don't talk to me so rough,
You think that I'm a old hobo,
Because I look so tough."

She took me in her kitchen,
She treated me nice and kind;
She got me in the notion
Of bumming all the time.

And as I left the kitchen
And went down to the town,
I heard a double-header blow,
And thought she was western bound.

I walked down on the sidetrack
And stopped at the railroad shop;
And heard an agent tell a man
The train it would not stop.

My heart began to flutter
And I began to sing,
"Ten thousand miles away from home,
A-bummin' a railroad train."

I pulled my cap down over my eyes
And walked on down the tracks;
Then I caught a sleeping-car,
And never did look back.

I got off at Danville,
Got struck on a Danville girl;
You bet your life she was out of sight,
She wore those Danville curls.

She wore her hat on the back of her head,
Like high-tone people do.
And the very next train comes down this line,
I'll bid that girl adieu.


(Lomax got this from H.H. Fuson's Songs of the Kentucky Highlands)


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 07:16 AM

Great roundup of a great song, Joe, thanks!

It's worth noting that all the versions of this song I know are in 3/4, waltz time, except one: Bill Baker's Arkansas version is in a brisk 4/4. Similar tune and words, but a very different effect, which, startlingly enough, works fine.

Here are two further versions, Burnett (way early, taken from his 1913 songbook), and Dock Boggs.

RAMBLIN' RECKLESS HOBO

In Kentuckian songster, banjo picker and fiddler Dick Burnett's 1913 songbook. Burnett said he "got it from somebody who had been out west." (Facsimile printed in notes to Burnett & Rutherford Rounder LP A Ramblin' Reckless Hobo. ) The Burnett & Rutherford, Columbia 15240-D, November 3, 1927 was sung by Rutherford, however, not Burnett.

A ramblin' reckless hobo left his happy home,
Started on a western trip, by himself alone,
He said, upon this western trip I guess I'll have some fun,
Standing at a station house this is the song he sung.

Standing on a platform smoking a cheap cigar,
Waiting for a freight train to catch an empty car,
Thinking of those good old times, wishing they'd come again,
I'm a thousand miles away from home, bumming a railroad train.

Kind miss, kind miss, won't you give me a bite to eat,
A little piece of cold corn bread, a little piece of meat?
She threw her arms around me, say, I'll love you as a friend,
But if I give to you this time, you'll be bumming around again.

Kind miss, kind miss, don't talk to me so rough,
You think I am a hobo because I look so tough,
She took me in her kitchen, she treated me nice and kind,
She put me in the notion of bumming all the time.

When I left her kitchen I went strolling down in town,
I heard a double header blow, I thought it was western bound,
I walked out to the railroad, out to the railroad shop,
I heard the agent tell a man, the freight train would not stop.

My heart began to rove around, and I began to sing,
If that freight train goes through this town, I'll catch it on the wing,
I pulled my cap down over my eyes, and walked out to the track,
And caught the stirrup of (an) empty car, and never did look back.

I got off in Danville, got stuck on a Danville girl,
You bet your life she's out of sight, she wears the Danville curl,
She wears her hair on the back of her head, like high toned people do,
But if a west-bound train pulls out tonight I'll bid that girl adieu.

Now I am in your city, boys, trying to do what's right,
Don't think because I am a railroad boy that I am not all right,
My pocketbook is empty, my heart is filled with pain,
Ten thousand miles away from home, bumming a railroad train.


DANVILLE GIRL

Dock Boggs, Brunswick 132, 1927.

I went down to Danville, got stuck on a Danville girl,
Oh, you bet your life she's out of sight, she wears those Danville curls,
She wears her hair on the back of her head like all high-toned people do,
The very first train that leaves this town, going to bid that girl adieu.

I don't see why I love that girl, for she never cared for me,
But still my mind is on that girl, wherever she may be,
It's forty mile through the rock, it's sixty through the sand,
Oh I relate to you the life of a many poor married man.

Oh, standing by the railroad track, a-smoking very cheap cigar,
A-waiting for a local, to catch an empty car,
I don't see why I love that girl, for she never cared for me,
But still my mind is on that girl wherever she may be.

Look up, look down this lonesome road,
Hang down your head and cry,
The best of friends have to part sometimes.
And why can't you and I.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 07:22 AM

I should add that Dock Boggs discards (maybe never knew) the usual tune to the song, and sings it with his protean "modal" tune that he used so often for so many songs -- similar to his "Country Blues."

I think for Dock, that raw melody was how he the world turning. Bob


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 11:57 AM

Hmmm. Interesting how Dock Boggs skips all the introductory verses and gets right to the girl...


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 12:25 PM

Several verses in common with:

GOOD MORNING MR. RAILROAD MAN


"Good morning, Mister Railroad man,
What time do your trains roll by?"
"At nine-sixteen and two forty-four,
And twenty five minutes past five."

"It's nine-sixteen and two-forty-four,
Twenty-five minutes till five,
Thank you, Mr. Railroad man,
I want to watch your trains roll by."

I sat down in a gamblin' game,
And I could not play my hand,
Just thinkin' about that woman I love,
Run away with another man.

Run away with another man, poor boy,
Run away with another man,
I was thinking aout that woman that I love,
Run away with another man.

Standing on a platform,
Smoking a cheap cigar
Waiting for an old freight-train
That carries an empty car.

Well, I pulled my hat down over my eyes,
And I walked across the track,
And I caught me the end of an old freight train,
And I never did come back.

Ry Cooder sings this (with the verses in a different order) on Boomer's Story


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:55 PM

what are the chords to this song


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:16 PM

Folksinger's Wordbook (Silbers):

My (E)pocket book was empty,
My (A)heart was full of (E)pain,
Ten (A)thousand miles (E)away from home
(B7)Bumming the railroad (E)train.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:53 PM

I just posted the tune for the Sandburg "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home" lyrics (above)

Click to play



I don't think that's the most common tune for this song. I think the one above for "Western Water Tank" is much more common:

Click to play



I didn't find a tune directly connected to the Folksingers' Wordbook (Silber & Silber) lyrics, but the Western Water Tank version works pretty well.
Here are the Silber & Silber lyrics - they're almost the same as what's in the DT, with the differences highlighted:

DANVILLE GIRL

My pocket book was empty,
My heart was full of pain.
Ten thousand miles away from home
Bumming the railroad train.

I was standing on the platform
Smoking a cheap cigar
Listening for that next freight train
To carry an empty car.

Well I got offthe Danville girl
You bet your life she's out of sight
She wore those Danville curls.

She took me in her kitchen
She treated me nice and kind
She got me in the notion
Of bumming all the time.

She wore her hair on the back of her head
Like high-toned people do,
But the very next train come down that line
I bid that girl adieu.

I pulled my cap down over my eyes
Walked down to the railroad track
Then I caught a westhound freight;
Never did look back.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 04:48 PM

My dad must have sung the Lomax/Seeger version.

Not yet noted here: the song as performed by Texas Gladden (with some harmonizing by Hobart Smith) track 31 on "Texas Gladden, Ballad Legacy" (Rounder 11661-1800-2, from recordings by Alan Lomax).

Like many of the tracks on this album, this seems like a fragment of a song. I wonder whether that's because that's all she recalled of the song, or whether it's an artifact of limited time, tape, or interest of Lomax's.

The album notes and and transcription are by John Cohen (as far as I can tell). I have put in italics the words as sung where they vary from the transcription, and the transcription words I've replaced in brackets after the line. Not sure why the "transcription" should be incorrect. Except for the stuck/struck difference, the differences are obvious.

Wild and Reckless Hobo

Wild and reckless hobo had left his happy home,
Started on a western trip and by himself alone.
On his western trip alone,
he thought he'd have some fun,
Sit down at the station, and this is what he sung.

"Sitting on a depot platform smoking a cheap cigar,   [big]
Waiting for a freight train to catch an empty car.
They put me off at Danville, boys.
Got struck on a Danville girl,   [stuck]
Bet your life, she's out of sight,
she wore those Danville curls.

"She wore her hat on the back of her head,   [neck]
as high-tone ladies do. [A high-toned lady, too.]
But if that train pulls through this town,   [this]
I'll bid that girl adieu."

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 11:44 AM

The song also turns up in the book Woody Guthrie Folk Songs (1963, Ludlow Music Inc.) as "Rambolin' Railroad Hobo." Looking at the music (p. 173), the melody seems slightly different; it says, "Words and New Music Adaptation by Woody Guthrie." Danville is now Pittsville. My guess is that he retooled the song in the early 1950's.


Rambolin' Railroad Hobo

I took a walk down to the railroad yard
To see the trains go by;
I knew the trains would run this day,
But I did not know what time;

Good morning, mister railroad man,
What time does your train go by?
At nine sixteen, at two forty-four,
And twenty-five minutes till five.

It's nine sixteen, and two forty-four,
And twenty-five minutes till five?
I thank you, mister railroad man;
I want to watch your trains roll by.

I'm a-standin' on this rotten platform,
I'm a-smokin' a snipe cigar;
I'm peelin' my eye for a steam up job
That's draggin' an empty car.

I pull my capbill o'er my eyes,
I'm walkin' across this track,
I'm swingin' the rusty ladder, hey,
And I never will glance back.

I'm huggin' her down 'round Pittsville town
To kiss my Pittsville girl,
You can bet your chips her name is Pearl,
She wears that Pittsville curl;

I'll buy her a hat she can tie on her head
Like the big-shot rich folks do;
And the very next freight rolls down this rail,
I'll kiss my little girl adieu.

I'm a-shufflin' up to this railroad bull
To shoot him a line of gab;
If you cross my palm with a two-bit piece
I'll find you a spot to ride;

I'm not packin' a nickel, man,
Not a copper can I show;
He booted me off like a stockyard cow,
And he slammed his boxcar door.

He kicked me off on them upperflat plains
Where the wild wind takes my breath,
Where blizzards are born in a bed on the ground,
Where the 'boes go to freeze to death.

I'll walk a few miles 'gainst a stormy snow,
And I'll dream of my Pittsville girl;
My red-hot dreams will melt your snows
And flood all around this world.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Danville Girl
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 12:47 PM

As I recall, someone mailed Robert W. Gordon a version of the song in the mid '20s, before Rodgers recorded it.

It was supposed to be "old," but there's no telling.


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