The Ballad of John Henry

Album: The Ballad of John Henry (2009)

Songfacts®:

  • John Henry was an American folk hero who, legend has it, built the mighty railroads that span the United States. While the character may or may not have been based on a real person, Henry became an important blue-collar icon as the saga of his race against a steam powered hammer developed mythic proportions. Bonamassa explained to the HMV magazine why he penned this tribute to the working class legend and made it the title track: "Here's a guy who historically went up against the machines, beat them and is remembered for it. It's ultimately about doing something so great and something that's remembered. For an album, that means passing its normal six-month shelf life and being remembered for 40 or 50 years. I tried to make an album that people would listen to long after I stop making music."

Comments: 3

  • Jasmine John Henry was a prisoner (trivial charges) that was released to a labor camp. He died of silicosis. His lyrics make sense and are a more accurate depiction of his life.
  • Robert from U..s.Well, why does bonamassa talk about John Henry being in shackles? And John Henry being a "wanted man". He was not a slave at the time he was working for the rail road Right? And he was not a wanted man? Never read about John Henry being in shackles.... He was a living legend, at the time the song is talking about! supposed to be one of the strongest, or the strongest, man in the U.S. at the time! Nobody killed him, from what i read too? The legend says, or some said, he died of a heart attack after beating the steam drill in that contest, to see if John Henry could beat a steam drill. People that knew him, said he did not die soon after winning the contest.... I do not understand the lyrics of the song! Anyone know if Bonamassa ever really explained the lyrics? He did write the lyrics? Right?
  • Mark from Qca, IaJoe's "stop" video is good.
    Bonamassa's always a good live show too
    seen him 3 times now
see more comments

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