John Henry

  • When John Henry was a little babe
    A-holding to his mama's hand
    Says, "If I live till I'm 21
    I'm going to make a steel-driving man, my babe
    I'm going to make a steel-driving man"

    When John Henry was a little boy
    A-sitting on his father's knee
    Says, "The Big Bend Tunnel on the C&O Road
    Is going to be the death of me, my babe"

    John he made a steel-driving man
    They took him to the tunnel to drive

    He drove so hard he broke his heart
    He laid down his hammer and he died, my babe

    O now John Hardy is a steel-driving man
    He belongs to the steel-driving crew
    And every time his hammer comes down
    You can see that steel walking through

    The steam drill standing on the right-hand side
    John Henry standing on the left

    He says, "I'll beat that steam drill down
    Or I'll die with my hammer in my breast"

    He placed his drill on the top of the rock
    The steam drill standing close at hand

    He beat it down one inch and a half
    And laid down his Hammer like a man

    Johnny looked up to his boss-man and said
    "O boss-man, how can it be?
    For the rock is so hard and the steel is so tough
    I can feel my muscles giving way"

    Johnny looked down to his turner and said
    "0 turner, how can it be?
    The rock is so hard and the steel is so tough
    That everybody's turning after me"

    They took poor Johnny to the steep hillside
    He looked to his heavens above

    He says, "Take my hammer and wrap it in gold
    And give it to the girl I love"

    They took his hammer and wrapped it in gold And gave it to Julia Ann
    And the last word John Hardy said to her Was, "Julia, do the
    best you can"

    If I die a railroad man
    Go bury me under the tie
    So I can hear old Number Four
    As she goes rolling by

    If I die a railroad man
    Go bury me under the sand
    With my pick and shovel at my head and feet
    And a nine-pound hammer in my hand Lyrics from a song in Public Domain


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