Archive for the 'Railroad' Category



Engine 143


h1 Friday, February 28th, 2014

Because I will be in Shanghai China on March 1, and not sure what Internet availability will be there, I’m releasing this a day early.”Engine 143″ is a famous Carter Family song preserved in the Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith). It’s a cautionary tale of a young lad too dedicated to his machine to save his life. Are we slaves to our machines? Georgie’s mother warned him not to try to make up the time but to run his engine right. It’s a good reminder to always run our engines right.

Lyrics:

[A] Along came the F15 – the [D] swiftest on the [A] line

Running o’er the C&O road – just [B] twenty minutes [E] behind

[A] Running into Cevile – [D] head porters on the [A] line

Receiving their strict orders – from a [E] station just [A] behind

Georgie’s mother came to him – with a bucket on her arm

Saying my darling son – be careful how you run

For many a man has lost his life – in trying to make lost time

And if you run your engine right – you’ll get there just on time

Up the road he darted – against the rocks he crushed

Upside down the engine turned – and Georgie’s breast did smash

His head was against the firebox door – the flames are rolling high

I’m glad I was born for an engineer – to die on the C&O line

The doctor said to Georgie – my darling boy be still

Your life may yet be saved – if it is God’s blessed will

Oh no said George that will not do – I want to die so free

I want to die for the engine I love – one hundred and forty three

The doctor said to Georgie – your life cannot be saved

Murdered upon a railroad – and laid in a lonesome grave

His face was covered up with blood – his eyes they could not see

And the very last words poor Georgie – said nearer my God to thee

Swannanoa Tunnel


h1 Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

This is a Western North Carolina folksong about an 1800 foot railroad tunnel constructed in the late Nineteenth Century with the help of convict labor. HERE is an interesting historical discussion about it.
Lyrics:

Riff in A

I’m going back to the Swannanoa Tunnel
That’s my home, baby, that’s my home

Asheville Junction, Swannanoa Tunnel
All caved in, baby, all caved in

Last December I remember
The wind blowed cold, baby, the wind blowed cold

When you hear my watchdog howling
Somebody around, baby, somebody around

When you hear that hoot owl squalling
Somebody dying, baby, somebody dying

Ain’t no hammer in this mountain
Out rings mine, baby, out rings mine

This old hammer it killed John Henry
It didn’t kill me, baby, couldn’t kill me

Riley Gardner, he killed my partner
He couldn’t kill me, baby, he couldn’t kill me

This old hammer it rings like silver
It shines like gold, baby, it shines like gold

Take this hammer, throw it in the river
It rings right on, baby, it shines right on

Some of these days I’ll see that woman
Well that’s no dream, baby, that’s no dream

I’ve Been Working On The Railroad


h1 Monday, July 1st, 2013

In the 1800′s working on the railroad was a good job for many folks who had immigrated to the United States from other countries. The workers were hard driven! Evidently the “Dinah Won’t You Blow Your Horn” part of this tune was taken from a song of an earlier period. In any case it makes for a rousing chorus that’s repeated three times!
Lyrics:
[D] I’ve been working on the railroad [G] all the live long [D] day
I’ve been working on the railroad just to [Em] pass the time [A] away
Can’t you hear the whistle [D] blowing [G] rise up early in the [D] morn’
[G] Can’t you hear the captain [D] calling Dinah [A] blow your [D] horn

[D] Dinah won’t you blow [G] Dinah won’t you blow [A] Dinah won’t you blow [D] your horn
[D] Dinah won’t you blow [G] Dinah won’t you blow [A] Dinah won’t you blow [D] your horn
[D] Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone’s in the kitchen [A] I know
[D] Someone’s in the kitchen with [G] Dinah, [D] strumming on the [A] old [D] banjo

And singing [D] fe fi fiddlie i O fe fi fiddlie i [G] OOO [D] fe fi fiddlie [A] iO strumming on the old [D] banjo

Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone’s in the kitchen I know
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, strumming on the old banjo

And singing fe fi fiddlie i O fe fi fiddlie i OOO fe fi fiddlie iO strumming on the old banjo

Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone’s in the kitchen I know
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, strumming on the old banjo

And singing fe fi fiddlie i O fe fi fiddlie i OOO fe fi fiddlie iO strumming on the old banjo

John Hardy


h1 Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

In West Virginia, a railroad worker named John Hardy got violent during a game of craps and fatally shot Thomas Drews, a fellow player. Hardy was tried, found guilty of murder in the first degree and hanged on January 19, 1894. History records this from the Wheeling Daily Register. Judge Herndon and Walter Taylor defended Hardy. Allegedly, Hardy gave Judge Herndon his pistol as a fee.
Lyrics:
CAPO ON 1ST FRET
[F] John Hardy, was a [C] desperate little man,
[F] He carried two guns [C] every day.
[F] He shot a man on the [C] West Virginia line,
[C] You oughta seen John Hardy gettin’ away,
[C] You oughta seen John Hardy [G7] gettin’ [C] away.

John Hardy, he got to the Keystone Bridge,
He thought he would be free.
Up steps a man and takes him by his arm
Saying, “Johnny, walk along with me,”
Saying, “Johnny, walk along with me.”

John Hardy was a brave little man,
He carried two guns ev’ry day.
Killed him a man in the West Virginia land,
Oughta seen poor Johnny gettin’ away, Lord, Lord,
Oughta seen poor Johnny gettin’ away.

John Hardy was standin’ at the barroom door,
He didn’t have a hand in the game,
Up stepped his woman and threw down fifty cents,
Says, “Deal my man in the game, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy lost that fifty cents,
It was all he had in the game,
He drew the forty-four that he carried by his side
Blowed out that poor Negro’s brains, Lord, Lord….

John Hardy had ten miles to go,
And half of that he run,
He run till he come to the broad river bank,
He fell to his breast and he swum, Lord, Lord….

He swum till he came to his mother’s house,
“My boy, what have you done?”
“I’ve killed a man in the West Virginia Land,
And I know that I have to be hung, Lord, Lord….”

He asked his mother for a fifty-cent piece,
“My son, I have no change.”
“Then hand me down my old forty-four
And I’ll blow out my agurvatin’ [sic] brains, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy was lyin’ on the broad river bank,
As drunk as a man could be;
Up stepped the police and took him by the hand,
Sayin’ “Johnny, come and go with me, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy had a pretty little girl,
The dress she wore was blue.
She come a-skippin’ through the old jail hall
Sayin’, “Poppy, I’ll be true to you, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy had another little girl,
The dress that she wore was red,
She came a-skippin’ through the old jail hall
Sayin’ “Poppy, I’d rather be dead, Lord, Lord….”

They took John Hardy to the hangin’ ground,
They hung him there to die.
The very last words that poor boy said,
“My forty gun never told a lie, Lord, Lord….”

Drill Ye Tarriers


h1 Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill” is an American folk song first published in 1888 and attributed to Thomas Casey (words) and much later Charles Connolly (music). The song is a work song, and makes references to the construction of the American railroads in the mid-19th century. The tarriers of the title refers to Irish workers, drilling holes in rock to blast out railroad tunnels. It may mean either to tarry as in delay, or to terrier dogs which dig their quarry out of the ground [1]

In the early 1960′s, Pete Seeger took the lyrics from an old Ukrainian folk song mentioned in the Russian novel And Quiet Flows the Don (1934) and the music from “Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill” to create the folk song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” with additional lyrics added later by Joe Hickerson.

Lyrics:
[Am] Every morning about seven o’clock
[E7] There were twenty tarriers drilling at the rock
[Am] The boss comes along and he says, “Keep still
[E7] And bear down heavy on the cast iron drill.”

Chorus
[Am] And drill, ye [G] tarriers, [Am] drill
[C] Drill, ye [G] tarriers, [Am] drill
For it’s [Am] work all day for the [G] sugar in you tay
[F] Down beyond the [E7] railway
And [Am] drill, ye [G] tarriers, [Am] drill
And blast, and fire.

The boss was a fine man down to the ground
And he married a lady six feet ’round
She baked good bread and she baked it well
But she baked it harder than the holes of …..

Chorus

The foreman’s name was John McCann
You know, he was a blamed mean man
Last week a premature blast went off
And a mile in the air went big Jim Goff.

Chorus

And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, “What for?” came this reply
“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.”

Chorus

First verse

Chorus

500 Miles


h1 Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Hedy West (April 6, 1938 – July 3, 2005) was an American folksinger and songwriter. Her song “500 miles,” has been covered by Bobby Bare (a Billboard Top 10 hit in 1963), The Highwaymen, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter & Gordon, The Brothers Four and many others. A great number of Hedy’s songs, including the raw materials for “500 Miles” came from her paternal grandmother Lily West who passed on the songs she had learned as a child.

This has a sweet melody and a sad story of poverty and desolation.

Lyrics:

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

Lord I’m one Lord I’m two Lord I’m three Lord I’m four
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home
Five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home

Not a shirt on my back not a penny to my name
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way
This a-way this a-way this a-way this a-way
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

Follow The Drinking Gourd


h1 Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

gourd.gif

Special thanks to Nedra Talley Ross (of the Ronettes) for background vocals.

http://www.history-of-rock.com/ronettes.htm

FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD DECODED

[A] Follow the [Em] drinking gourd!
[A] Follow the [Em] drinking gourd.
For the [G] old man is [D] waiting to [C] carry you to [D] freedom
[Em] Follow the [D] drinking [Em] gourd.

The old man in this chorus was Peg Leg Joe, a sailor-turned-carpenter who had lost part of his right leg in an accident at sea. Joe wintered in the South doing odd jobs, from plantation to plantation. When he wasn't working he taught the slaves this song containing a secret escape route to freedom in the North.

The Drinking Gourd is not a gourd, but the Big Dipper with its two pointer stars (Dubhe and Merak) that visually lead to the North Star.
By following the North Star the slaves were able to consistently navigate northward.

When the sun comes back and the first quail calls,
Follow the drinking gourd,
For the old man is waiting to carry you to freedom
If you follow the drinking gourd.

Each year when the quails migrated south, the slaves were told to begin their journey northward, which entailed crossing the unnavigable Ohio River. It was too swift and wide to cross, except in winter, when it was frozen and slaves could walk to the other shore on the ice.

The riverbank makes a very good road,
The dead trees will show you the way,
Left foot, peg foot traveling on,
Following the drinking gourd.

Peg Leg Joe marked one bank of the Tombigbee River in Mississippi with his easily identifiable footprints. By following them and the dead trees along the riverbank, the slaves could have a safe journey free from plantation owner's hounds.

The river ends between two hills,
Follow the drinking gourd,
There's another river on the other side,
Follow the drinking gourd.

When the Tombigbee ended, the slaves were told to continue northward, over the hills, to the Tennessee River where the Underground Railroad would help them.

Lyrics:
FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD

[Em] When the sun goes back and the [C] first quail calls
[Em] Follow the [D] drinking [Em] gourd
[Em] The old man is a-waitin' for to [C] carry you to freedom
[Em] Follow the [D] drinking [Em] gourd

[A] Follow the [Em] drinking gourd!
[A] Follow the [Em] drinking gourd.
For the [G] old man is [D] waiting to [C] carry you to [D] freedom
[Em] Follow the [D] drinking [Em] gourd.

The river bed makes a mighty fine road,
Dead trees to show you the way
And it's left foot, peg foot, traveling on
Follow the drinking gourd

CHORUS

The river ends between two hills
Follow the drinking gourd
There's another river on the other side
Follow the drinking gourd

CHORUS

I thought I heard the angels say
Follow the drinking gourd
The stars in the heavens gonna show you the way
Follow the drinking gourd

CHORUS

Railroad Bill


h1 Sunday, September 1st, 2002

RRB.jpeg

Lyrics:
[C] Railroad Bill [E7] Railroad Bill

He [F] always worked

And he [C] always will

[C] Ride [G] Railroad [C] Bill

Railroad Bill, up on a hill

Lightin’ a seegar

With a ten-dollar bill.

Ride Railroad Bill

Old policeman sold him a train

Never did lose boys

Always did gain

Ride Railroad Bill

Mounted them train cars all piggyback

Some on the road boys

And some on the track

Ride Railroad Bill

Sometimes a freight train sometimes a van

If anyone gets there

You know that he can

Ride Railroad Bill

One time he had to fill in for this guy

Bi!! had to bless that

Old train goin’ by

Ride Railroad Bill

Got off the rails and got into wine

Now he goes off

To France in his mind

Ride Railroad Bill

900 Miles


h1 Monday, February 1st, 1999

900.gif

This is a song that I used to hear around the folk circles of Chicago. It has been recorded by numerous artists, including Woody Guthrie.

I'm using my new Martin D12-42RM signature model 12-string.

Lyrics:
Em

Well I'm walkin' down the track, I got tears in my eyes

Tryin' to read a letter from my home

cho: If that train runs me right, I'll be home tomorrow night

G D Em

'Cause it's nine hundred miles where I'm goin'.

G D Em

And I hate to hear that lonesome whistle blow

G D Em

'Cause I'm nine hundred miles from my home.

Well the train I ride on is a hundred coaches long

You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

I will pawn you my watch, I will pawn you my chain

Pawn you my gold diamond ring.

Well if you say so, I will railroad no more

Sidetrack my train and come home.

John Henry


h1 Saturday, August 1st, 1998

traingol.jpg

The legend of John Henry dates back to the early 1870s during the building of the Big Bend Tunnel through the West Virginia mountains by C & O Railroad workers. To carve this tunnel, then the longest in the United States, men worked in pairs to drill holes for dynamite. One man used a large hammer to pound a huge drill, while another man screwed it into the rock.

John Henry was renowned for his strength and skill in driving the steel drills into the solid rock. One day the captain brought a newly invented steam drill to the tunnel to test. Which was stronger, man or machine? John Henry, the strongest steel driver of them all, beat the steam drill, but according to the song, the effort killed him.

Lyrics:
A
When John Henry was a little baby,
E7
Just a sittin' on his mammy's knee,
A7 D7
Said the Big Bend Tunnel on that C & O Road
A
Gonna be the death of me, Lord God
E7 A
Going to be the death of me.'

Well John Henry said to the captain,
I'm gonna take a little trip downtown
Get me a thirty pound hammer with that nine foot handle
I'll beat your steam drill down, Lord God
I'll beat your steam drill down

Well John Henry hammered on that mountain
Till his hammer was striking fire
And the very last words that I heard that boy say was
Cool drink of water 'for I die, Lord God
Cool drink of water 'for I die

Well they carried him down to the graveyard
And they buried him in the sand
And every locomotive came a roarin' on by
They cried out, 'There lies a steel drivin' man, Lord God
There lies a steel drivin' man.

Well there's some say he came from Texas
There's some say he came from Maine
Well I don't give a damn where that poor boy was from
You know that, he was a steel drivin' man, Lord God
John Henry was a steel drivin' man

Well when John Henry was a little baby,
Just a sitting on his mammy's knee,
Said the Big Bend Tunnel on that C & O Road
Gonna be the death of me, Lord God
Gonna to be the death of me.'

� 1998 McGuinn Music – Roger McGuinn