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The blues - that is a feeling that makes you feel very bad. The blues'll give you sickness - from there's a pain you've never had. Now here's the way the blues go - it'll jump on you early in the morning. It'll worry you 'til you go to sleep. Then after you fall to sleep, you get to dreamin' them bad old dreams and it give you nothing but the bad old midnight creeps - Lightnin' Hopkins', spoken intro to Blues Is A Feeling

Author Topic: "Railroadin' Some"--A new book  (Read 2938 times)

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Offline Stuart

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"Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« on: July 26, 2006, 10:03:04 AM »
There's a new book due out in August that may be of interest to some--"Railroadin' Some" by Max Haymes. Here's a link to the publisher's page as well to those of the usual U.S. sources.'_some.html
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:19:16 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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"Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2006, 10:51:04 AM »
Being somewhat of a nut (who said "we agree"?) about the history/development of the American railroad, for me this type of book is long overdue. My only hope is that it's better written/presented than the streams of overly footnoted consciousness which have appeared at his website. Having got that off my chest, here's the blurb:

"RAILROADIN?  SOME" by Max Haymes
This groundbreaking book, written by one of the foremost blues
historians in the UK, is based on over 30 years research, study and
absolute passion for early blues music. It is the first ever 
comprehensive study of the enormous impact of the railroads on 19th and 
early 20th Century black American society and the many and varied 
references to this new phenomenon in early blues lyrics.

Below is a  synopsis of the book giving you an insight into the wealth of

Chapter 1:
Brief background of railroads in the  antebellum era and slaves?
involvement ?  role of Pullman and Red Cap  porters ? the Panama
Limited ? origins of ?smokestack lightning? and Charley  Patton ?
?ticket as long as my right arm?, ?ballin? the jack? ? the 
?other? Midnight Special ? Texas & New Orleans RR and Lucille  Bogan.

Chapter 2:
Evolution of  logging camps in the South ? origins of piano blues,
boogie woogie and the  barrelhouse ? oral transmission of early blues
via logging roads ? more on  the T&NO.

Chapter 3:
The story of the Mobile & Ohio and the blues from 1852 to  1940; a
?journey? from Mobile to St. Louis ? background of the floating 
bridge of Sleepy John Estes fame ? Cairo, Ill. ? the real facts of
Casey  Jones? train wreck in 1900 ? river bottoms ? the Union
Stockyard in  Meridian, Miss. ? oral transmission and (a) way freight
trains on the  M&O, (b) stevedores at Mobile Bay.

Chapter 4:
Short history of the refrigerator car or ?reefer? from 1858 to 1910 
? introduction of the banana to the ?masses? in the black
community ?  fast freights: the ?redball? and the ?hotshot? ?
hoboing on a reefer with  T-Bone Walker and David ?Honeyboy? Edwards
? sexual symbolism and street  market blues ? English music hall link
with some early vaudeville-blues  singers.

Chapter 5:
Origins of the ?Yellow Dog? ? short history of the Yazoo & 
Mississippi Valley RR ? peavine railroads ? brief survey of labour 
history and anti-union railroad companies ? yellow dog contracts 
?recordings of the Yellow Dog from 1923 to 1961, by Sam Collins,
Bessie  Smith et al.

Chapter 6:
Brief study of early Southern prison/correction systems ? convict 
lease and railroads? involvement ? source of the ?longest train?
motif  in the blues ? origin of ?In The Pines? ? Joseph E. Brown
and Peg Leg Howell  ? brief survey of the  Tennessee Coal, Iron &
Railroad Co. or  ?TCI?, and singers ? Railroad Bill and the L&N ?
short history of  Gulfport & Ship Island RR and Robert Johnson link ?
the ?ding dong? and  Frank Stokes.

Chapter 7:
Resum? of  beginnings of the Fast Mail in 1875 ? importance to rural
South ? source of  John Byrd?s ?Billy Goat Blues? in the 1850s ?
fast mail trains such as the  Big 80 and the Sunnyland ? lineage of
Robert Johnson?s ?fastest train I see?  verse ? streamline trains
? blues singers? knowledge of railroad operations  ? the railroad
depot: the seamier side and the ?leaving scene? in the blues,  as
related by Robert Wilkins, Roosevelt Sykes, Ma Rainey and Robert 

Chapter 8:
Short  history of development of circus and carnival in the South ?
beginnings of  medicine shows ? circuses in Natchez, Miss. during
antebellum era and the  early minstrel song, ?Billy Barlow? ?
excursion trains ? blues singers? role  in circus and origin of
?ballyhoo? ? circus and carnival slang used in the  blues ? role
of steam calliope ? short survey of origin of ?hokum? and hokum 
blues ? the railroad crossing ? vaudeville-blues singers and
travelling  shows including Clara Smith ? oral transmission process.

Chapter  9:
Vaudeville blues  lyrics and influence on rural singers like Blind Lemon
Jefferson by Sippie  Wallace, Ida Cox and others ? oral transmission
and the blues record ?  passenger train women, platform vendors and
Blind Boy Fuller ? survey and  ancestry of ?Careless Love? ? Mae
Glover, John Byrd, Bobby Grant and Buddy  Boy Hawkins ? roots of
?Statesboro Blues? by Blind Willie  McTell.

Chapter 10:
Short survey of early  tramps and hobos on the rails ? women hobos and
Memphis Minnie ? Chicago,  the railroad hobo?s ?Mecca? ? hobo
jungles and ?Hoovervilles? ? symbolism of  the railroad and
ultimate freedom for the hobo ? The Atlanta Special, Bukka  White and
Blind Willie McTell ? riding the blinds and riding the rods ? 
railroad police and Sleepy John Estes ? origins of  ?hobo?.

Appendix I - Origins of 'red light  district'
Appendix II - 'In The Pines'/'The Longest Train' and the  "accident
Glossary of Railroad Abbreviations and  Nicknames
Index of Artists' Names
Index of Song  Titles
General Index
Additionally, there is a fully annotated  Discography at the end of each
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:20:12 PM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

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"Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2006, 04:32:58 PM »
Let's hope you're correct, BH. He might be following the "Write it down first, then edit and polish later" school. (Oh, the writing process!)

Thanks for putting up the info on the book.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:21:16 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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"Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2006, 11:46:56 PM »
Let's hope you're correct, BH. He might be following the "Write it down first, then edit and polish later" school. (Oh, the writing process!)
One would hope that a copy editor would have appraised him of the drawbacks of using his "web based approach" in the published work.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:22:20 PM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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"Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 03:31:28 AM »
From a glance at their web site, I get the feeling that Music Mentor Books is not the kind of place that employs a lot of copy editors.  But I look forward to the book. 
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:23:20 PM by Johnm »


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"Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2006, 08:35:05 AM »
Hi people
Theres a new book out(due for release tomorrow) about the link between the blues and the early railroads and trains, heres the authors website address it looks to be very informative ,it apparently been a work ,30 years in the making, anyway the books called
"RAILROADIN SOME", cheers people.

Cruel Kid Dowling...
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:24:19 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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"Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2006, 09:22:06 AM »
I pre-ordered direct from the publisher awhile back. Yesterday I received notification that publication is now "August/early September".
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:25:17 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: "Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2006, 11:47:33 AM »
I read my copy of this book last month and was bitterly disappointed. Being the middle-aged curmudgeon that I am, for me it was streams of consciousness, speculation, bad use of the English language and torturous to read with the occasional interesting fact/new research buried within it all. It could have said what it wanted to say in half the length. Up until now I have kept my views to myself but Howard Rye has said much the same - but far more eloquently and coherently considered - in a review for Blues & Rhythm.

Has anyone hereabouts read the work and would be willing to pass on their views?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: "Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2006, 01:19:29 PM »
I've been asked privately if I would perhaps post the review. It's too lengthy to do that but the conclusion reads:

"There is much more and if only it had been organised more tightly, perhaps into a mixture of general topics and pieces on specific railroads, and with a clearer focus on quality of referencing, it could have been both readable and informative, and a useful reference book as well. It is well-indexed so reference is still possible, but I?d be a liar if I said this was an easy or enjoyable read, and at times its rambling speculative style and forced connections between disparate topics belonging in different chapters is just plain infuriating."

Which in its way comfirms the foreboding of both Stuart and DJ earlier in this thread.

Offline Richard

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Re: "Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2006, 03:20:23 AM »
What a pity it looked so tempting from the index, guess I won't be getting that for Xmas then  ::)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: "Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2006, 10:39:35 AM »
In the meatime there's always the Paul Garon & Gene Tomko "Black Hoboes & Their Songs: What's The Use Of Walking If There's A Freight Train Going Your Way" (Charles H Kerr) published earlier this year. For myself this book should have been be written decades ago and an enlightening read. It also has a small number of previously unseen photographs of black labourers and prisoners taken from the June 1915 edition of the 'International Socialist Review'. The book's political stance, like other Garon works, can at times be off putting but at least it's readable, literate (using verbs, which isn't always the case with Railroadin') and has an accompanying 24 track CD. On the outside back page Paul Oliver comments, 'the author has meticulously researched the nature and the conditions of the lumber and turpentine industries, mining, levee-building and other employment that (hoboes) sought, and about which they also sang'...and there's no denying that, they've used in excess of than 100 lyric transcriptions.

Anyone else out there read the Garon-Tomko book who'd care to give an appraisal?

Offline uncle bud

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Re: "Railroadin' Some"--A new book
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2006, 11:37:38 AM »
Anyone else out there read the Garon-Tomko book who'd care to give an appraisal?

I have it but haven't read it yet -- still going through Broadcasting the Blues, which came in the same delivery. Even so, I'll say it looks good flipping through it, lots of transcriptions too, plus the CD. And as you note, a seemingly obvious choice for subject matter. I'm looking forward to getting to it over the holidays.

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