Tag Archives: train

John Henry (Pete Seeger Version)

TITLE: John Henry (Blankenship Version) AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain KEYWORDS: train, work, death, technology, railroading, worker EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1909 Journal of American Folklore HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Researchers are still trying to pin down the REAL John Henry, from Guy B. Johnson, , 1929 to Scott Nelson’s book 2006 book

Railroad Bill

TITLE: Railroad Bill AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain KEYWORDS: rambling, robbery, crime, death, train EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1911 (Odum, according to Cohen) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: There is a legend in south Alabama, associated with the spirit of a man known as, “Railroad Bill”. This story, from slave cultures, during the post-Civil War era, during the read more »

Worried Man Blues

TITLE: Worried Man Blues AUTHOR: unknown, although copyrighted by AP Carter CATEGORY: Traditional, Debated KEYWORDS: work, prison, train, abandonment, punishment EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1929 (recording, Carter Family) It was great to hear Pete Seeger sing “Worried Man Blues” just months before his death. It will be a performance I won’t soon forget. (sgg) “Worried Man Blues,” read more »

John Henry (Blankenship Version)

TITLE: John Henry (Blankenship Version) AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain KEYWORDS: train, work, death, technology, railroading, worker EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1909 Journal of American Folklore HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Researchers are still trying to pin down the REAL John Henry, from Guy B. Johnson, , 1929 to Scott Nelson’s book 2006 book  SOME CONSIDER THIS SONG OFFENSIVE: Many versions over read more »

Midnight Special

TITLE: Midnight Special AUTHOR: Unknown CATEGORY: Public Domain, Traditional KEYWORDS: prison, hard times, warning, crime, police, train EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: Sodarissa Miller, Silvertone Records, August 1925. According to Alan Lomax, the Midnight Special was a real train: the Southern Pacific Golden Gate Limited. Leadbelly popularized the song upon his release from Sugar Land prison in Texas, read more »

Rock Island Line

TITLE: Rock Island Line AUTHOR: unknown (heavily adapted by Huddie Ledbetter) CATEGORY: traditional, public domain KEYWORDS: railroading, train, floatingverses EARLIEST DATE: Cummins Prison Farm (Arkansas) in 1934. Recorded by John & Ruby Lomax [YouTube] “The Rock Island Line” is a tall tale in rhyme, the song’s subject is a train so fast that it arrives at its destination read more »

900 Miles

TITLE: 900 Miles AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: Public Domain, Traditional EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1909 (Journal Of American Folklore) KEYWORDS: train, love, separation, home This is an old railroad song. The earliest known version is from 1909. I learned the song from a Cisco Houston recording which was popular in the late 50’s and early 60’s using the read more »

Abilene

TITLE: Abilene AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: unknown, debated KEYWORDS: home, train, nonballad EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1973 John D. Loudermilk, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, is ofter credited with writing “Abilene.”  John D. Loudermilk, born March 31, 1934, wrote many famous songs but the read more »