Mudcat Café message #671373 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #45408   Message #671373
Posted By: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
18-Mar-02 - 01:06 PM
Thread Name: JOHN HENRY solved????
Subject: RE: JOHN HENRY solved????
The reference to the Univ. North Carolina site provided by Dan Kelly is welcome because it reproduces a version of "John Henry" from G. B. Johnson, 1929, "John Henry: Tracking Down a Negro Legend," the one with the "white house" verse. This hard-to-get book (which I would like to find) supports the C & O Virginia stories, disputed by Garst, who supports the "Alabama" John Henry. In a way, both may be correct, in that the songs may be composites extolling the deeds of a number of strong, proud railroad workmen.

Songs by Belafonte, Terry, and most singers of the folk song era often contain material that they have edited or made up to fit their ideas of how the songs will be accepted by the public. We owe a lot to these singers, but their songs cannot be used to determine the provenance or background of a song. This is difficult, even with songs collected by knowledgable folklorists, such as Johnson.