Erie Canal

This one is for my friend John Marshall

TITLE: Erie Canal
AUTHOR: Thomas S. Allen
CATEGORY: Public Domain, Debated
KEYWORDS: canal, animal, work
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1905
HISTORICAL REFERENCES: 1825 – Erie Canal opens (construction began in 1817)

The Erie Canal Song, as it is commonly known, was written in 1905 under the title Low Bridge, Everybody Down about life on the Erie Canal. Around 1905 mule powered barge traffic had converted to steam power and diesel power was about to take over. The Erie Canal Song was written to commemorate the history of nearly 100 years of life along the Erie Canal and is the most recognized of all the Erie Canal folksongs. (www.eriecanalsong.com

See BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO for further history.

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Ballad of the Erie Canal
  • The Erie Canal Ballad
  • Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal
  • Got an Old Mule
  • Low Bridge, Everybody Down

RECORDINGS: (mp3’s available through Amazon.com)

YOUTUBE VIDEO: 

YOUTUBE AUDIO: download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART: download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO: Old 16mm film is a sing along from Weston Woods. Takes 30 seconds to start..stay with it! Fun song and GREAT drawings by Peter Spier,

Erie Canal

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

We haul’d some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal and hay
We know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, ev’rybody down
Low bridge, ’cause we’re coming to a town
You’ll always know your neighbour
And you’ll always know your pal
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal

We’d better look around for a job, old gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
‘Cause you bet your life I’d never part with Sal.
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

Get up there mule, here comes a lock.
We’ll make Rome ‘bout six o’clock,
One more trip and back we’ll go,
Right back home to Buffalo.

Low bridge, ev’rybody down
Low bridge, ’cause we’re coming to a town
You’ll always know your neighbour
And you’ll always know your pal
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal

Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
Oh, I’d like to see a mule as good as Sal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

A friend of mine once got her sore,
New he’s got a broken jaw,
‘Cause she let go with her iron toe
And kicked him in to Buffalo.

Low bridge, ev’rybody down
Low bridge, ’cause we’re coming to a town
You’ll always know your neighbour
And you’ll always know your pal
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal

You’ll soon hear them sing all about my gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
It’s a great little ditty ‘bout my fine mule Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

Oh, any band will play it soon,
Foolish words and a catchy tune,
You’ll hear it sung before you go
From Mexico to Buffalo.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Blues and Gospel Records 1902-1943, John Goodrich and Robert M.W. Dixon, Storyville Publications and Company, London Revised 1969.

SONGBOOKS:

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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