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Frank in the swamps REQ/HELP African-American Railroad Work Songs (11) Lyr Add: WHEN I GET IN ILLINOIS^^ 24 May 98


B.A. Botkin edited a book on railroad folklore, probably published by American Legacy Press, N.Y. I saw it on a bookshelf once and am still kicking my butt for not grabbing it. In his "A Treasury of Southern Folklore" by same publishers he gives...

1. When I get in Illinois,
I'm gonna spread the news about the Florida boys.

CHORUS: Shove it over! Hey! Hey! Can't you line it?
Ah shacka lacka lacka lacka lacka lacka Unh!
Can't you move it?
Hey, hey can't you try.

2. Me and my buddy goin' across the field,
I heard that train when it left Mobile. CHORUS

3. I heard a mighty noise around the river bend,
Must be the Southern crossin' the L & N. CHORUS

4. A nickels worth o' bacon, a dimes worth o' lard,
I would buy more but the time's so hard, CHORUS

5. Jack the rabbit, Jack the bear,
Two fat buzzards on the run from there. CHORUS

6. Cap'n got a burner I'd like to have,
A 32.20 with a shiny barrel. CHORUS

7. There comes a woman walkin' across a field,
Her mouth exhaustin' like a automobile....


He goes on to say...

"This song is common in the railroad camps. It is suited to the "lining" rhythm. That is, it fits the straining of the men at the lining bars as the rail is placed in position to be spiked down.

On the chorus: All men strain in concert; then shake rail; then grunt as they move rail...."

Botkin took a lot of this from Zora Neale Hurston's "Mules & Men." If any of it seems plagiarism it's my cutting short the quotes, not Botkin.

Anyway, I'd recommend you look for his "Railroad treasury"

Frank I.T.S.


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