Mudcat Café Message Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe



User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,John Garst Origin Of John Henry--part TWO (240* d) RE: Origin Of John Henry--part TWO 01 Feb 05


At

http://www.skippopscratch.com/sps3220/johnhenrylyrics

is the statement, "These lyrics for John Henry are taken from various versions of the songs. My intent is to tell the story, not to present a certain song."

Included among the selected verses are these.

John Henry told his Captain,
Bury me under the sills of the floor,
So when they get to playing good old Georgy skin,
Bet 'em fifty to a dollar more,
Fifty to a dollar more.

John Henry drove steel on the Southern
He drove steel on the C&O.
He drove steel for that Big Ben Tunnel
Steel drivin' kill John you know,
Steel drivin' kill John you know,
Well, now steel drivin' kill John you know, Lord, Lord,
Steel drivin' kill John you know.

They carried John Henry on the mountain,
Upon a mountain so high,
Last words I heard that poor boy say:
"Give me a cool drink of water 'fore I die,
Give me a cool drink of water 'fore I die,
Give me a cool drink of water 'fore I die."

I've seen the "Georgy skin" line before, perhaps commented on it here, but this site doesn't give a provenance. Anyhow, Georgia skin might have been more likely known in Alabama than in West Virginia.

The reference to the "Southern" could favor Alabama over West Virginia, although at some point by 1917 a spur of the Southern Railway System did run into Huntington, WV.

Carrying John Henry "on the mountain" might have been to get him away from the contest site at Dunnavant or it might have been to bury him on Sand Ridge. I'm not sure if they would have had to carry him "on the mountain" at Big Bend . I'd think they might be carrying him "down the mountain" there (to get to a road by the river).

I can imagine an earlier set of lines:

John Henry drove steel on the Southern
He drove steel on the C&W.
He drove steel for that big, bad tunnel

Ain't imagination wonderful!


Post to this Thread -

Back to the Main Forum Page

By clicking on the User Name, you will requery the forum for that user. You will see everything that he or she has posted with that Mudcat name.

By clicking on the Thread Name, you will be sent to the Forum on that thread as if you selected it from the main Mudcat Forum page.
   * Click on the linked number with * to view the thread split into pages (click "d" for chronologically descending).

By clicking on the Subject, you will also go to the thread as if you selected it from the original Forum page, but also go directly to that particular message.

By clicking on the Date (Posted), you will dig out every message posted that day.

Try it all, you will see.