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Author Topic: John Henry  (Read 28543 times)

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Offline Pan

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #60 on: October 29, 2012, 01:48:24 PM »
Jessie Clarence Gorman - John Henry



Cheers

Pan

Offline uncle bud

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #61 on: October 29, 2012, 05:22:09 PM »
Here's a version I've been enjoying recently, not the classic John Henry but the classic Take This Hammer tune. Sid Hemphill, Lucius Curtis, Alec Askew and Will Head.


Offline Pan

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #62 on: December 16, 2013, 04:09:14 PM »
Hi all.

I just came across the Fruit Jar Guzzlers' version of the tune:



Cheers

Pan

Offline Laura

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #63 on: December 17, 2013, 04:41:23 AM »
Nice version! Thanks for posting, Pan.

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #64 on: January 10, 2014, 02:17:49 PM »
Hi all,
Lonzie Thomas recorded a terrific version of "John Henry" for George Mitchell.  As with many of the versions we've looked at before, Lonzie's was played in Vestapol with a slide.  Considering what a small percentage of his recorded tunes were played using a slide, Lonzie shows himself to have been a remarkably skillful and nuanced slide player.  His droll sense of humor really comes out in his spoken comments.  As is often the case, he used the slide to finish words or lines throughout his rendition, and where he did that I've used a hyphen to indicate it.  We are so lucky that George Mitchell found and recorded Lonzie, for his music stands with the best in Country Blues from any period.

John Henry was a little baby
He was sittin' on his Papa's right knee
Well, he picked up a hammer and a little piece steel
Said, "This hammer's gon' be the death of ------."
Said, "This hammer gon' be the death of me."

John Henry told his Cap---,
"Captain, when you go to town,
Go, bring me back good old nine-pound hammer.
Captain, I'll beat this steam drill d----,
Captain, I'll beat this steam drill ----,
I will beat this steam drill ----,
Cap'n, I'll beat this steam drill down."

John Henry told his Cap----,
"Captain, a man ain't nothin' but a man.
'Fore I let another man beat me down in this steel,
Cap'n, I'll die with this hammer in my ----,
Cap'n, I'll die with this hammer in my hand,
I will die with this hammer in my ----,
I will die with this hammer in my hand."

John Henry were on the right side
And the steam drill was on the left
"Before I let this steam drill beat me down,
Sugar, I'll drive myself to d----,
Lord, I'll drive myself to -----,
I will drive myself to -----,
I will drive myself to death."

John Henry, he had a little wo---,
And her name was Polly Ann
John Henry got sick and he had to go home
And little Polly, she drove steel like a m---,
Yeah, little Polly, she drove steel like a man,
Well, little Polly drove steel like a m--,
Yeah, little -----, drove steel like a man

SPOKEN:  John Henry was on his deathbed, his wife asked him a question, had been there, she seed he was gon' die, she wanted to make him feel good.  He asked a question:

"Baby, who's gonna shoe your pretty little feet,
Darlin', who's gonna glove your hand?
Baby, who's gonna kiss your ruby cheeks,
Now, darlin', who's gonna be your ---,
Tell me, who's gonna be your own man?"

SPOKEN: She done laughed, just like the women do all howadays time, she told him smart, she told him, you know:

"Well, my Papa gonna shoe my pretty little feet,
Then brother gonna glove my hand.
Then my Mama gonna kiss my rosy cheek
Now, darlin', I won't need no m--,
Now, darlin', I won't need no ---,
Darlin', - won't need no ---,
Darlin', I won't need no man."

SPOKEN: He asked her one more question, he just asked her one more question:

"Baby, where'd you get them shoes you wear,
And that dress you wearin' so fine?"
Says, "I got my shoes f'om a railroad man,
And my dress from a driver in the m---,
Yeah, my dress from a driver in the mine."

All best,
Johnm


Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #65 on: January 17, 2014, 08:08:41 PM »
Hi all,
Uncle bud posted an exceptionally nice version of "John Henry" by Leslie Riddle earlier in this thread at http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4256.msg59523#msg59523 .  Leslie Riddle's time had a beautiful flow to it and something about the way he sounded his IV chord in Vestapol, where he played the song with a slide, is just beautiful.  Lesley Riddle's opening line to his final verse is one we've not encountered previously in this thread.

John Henry was a baby boy, sittin' on his Mama's knee
Said, "The Big Bend tunnel on the C & O Road,
Is gonna be the death of me,
Well, it's gonna be the death of me.
Well, it's gonna be the death of me,
Lord, it's gonna be the death of me.

John Henry went in the tunnel, he went in the tunnel to drive
The rocks was so tall, John Henry was so small
'Til he laid down his hammer and he cried,
Lord, he laid down his hammer and he cried.
Well, he laid down his hammer and he cried,
Lord, he laid down his hammer and he cried.

John Henry had a little woman, her name was Polly Ann
When Henry got sick and he could not work
Lord, Polly drove steel like a man,
Lord, Polly drove steel like a man.
Well, Polly drove steel like a man,
Well, Polly drove steel like a man.

Put one hole in the headin', you can put one hole in the side
Well the mountain was so tall, John Henry was so small
'Til he laid down his hammer and he died
Lord, he laid down his hammer and he died
Lord, he laid down his hammer and he died
Lord, he laid down his hammer and he died

All best,
Johnm 

Offline harriet

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #66 on: January 18, 2014, 05:26:36 AM »
Big Bill Broonzy's version 1951



John Henry said to his captain,
A man ain't nothing but a man
Before I'd let your steam drill beat me down
I wil die with that hammer in my hand
Yes I’ll die with that hammer in my hand
Cause I’ll die with that hammer in my hand
Now Lord die with that hammer in my hand

John Henry said to his shaker,
Now man, why don't you sing?
I’m shakin twelve pounds from my hips on down
Can’t you hear that cold steel  ….
Oh don’t you hear that cold steel ring,
Why  don’t you hear that cold steel ring
Oh don’t you hear that cold steel ring

John Henry ?? that railroad track
With a twelve lound hammer by his side
Yes he went down the track but he never came back
Cause he lay down his hammer and he ……
Yes he lay down his hammer and he died
Cause he lay down his hammer and he ……
Yes  he lay down his hammer and he died

John Henry hammered in that mountain
That mountain was so high
The last words that I heard that poor boy say
Give me a cool drink of water before I …….
Give me a cool drink of water before I die
Give me a cool drink of water before I …….
Give me a cool drink of water before I die

John Henry had a little woman
And the dress that she wore was red
And the last words that  I heard that little girl say
I ‘m going where John Henry fell dead
Yes I ‘m going where John Henry fell dead
Cause I ‘m going where John Henry fell ….
Yes I ‘m going where John Henry fell dead

John Henry was a little baby boy
She held him in the palm of his hand
And the last words that I know that poor boy said
I’m going to be a steel driving man
I’m going to be a little steel driving man
I’m going to be a steel driving man

« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 06:09:48 AM by harriet »

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #67 on: February 10, 2014, 05:53:07 PM »
Hi all,
Jesse Fuller recorded an epic version of "John Henry", accompanying himself with a slide in Vestapol as so many other players had done.  One really cool touch in his rendition is that he waits until the next-to-last line of his second verse before bringing in his high-hat, and when he does, that percussion really gooses things.  His slide playing here is exciting, and he uses the slide to start or finish lines occasionally during the course of his rendition.  Where that happens, it is indicated with a dash.  I think his guitar playing is terribly under-rated--by the time he gets to his outro, he is really tearing along, just screaming.  Here is the performance, which incidentally ends at 4:44 with an additional five minutes or so of silence, for some reason.



SOLO

John Henry, when he was a little baby
He sat on his Papa's knee
And the first piece of steel that he ever seed,
He said, "Gonna be the death of me,
Yes, this is gonna be the death of me.
Of me, of me,
This is gonna be the death of me."

John Henry had a little woman
Her name was Sarah Ann
When John Henry was on his dyin' bed
Lord, she drive steel just like a man
She drive steel just like a man
Like a man, like a man
She drive steel just like a man

John Henry said he was born in Texas
Some said he was born in Maine
John Henry was born down in North Carolina
He's the leader of a steel-drivin' gang, Lord, Lord
He's the leader of a steel-drivin' gang
---------, of a gang
He's the leader of a steel-drivin' gang

John Henry said to his captain,
"When you go to town,
Bring me back a nine-pound hammer,
I'm goin' to beat that steam drill ----
I'm gonna beat that steam drill down.
Mmmm down, oh down
I'm gonna beat that steam drill down."

John Henry went up on the mountain
Hammered that great nine-pound
He drove steel three days and nights
Lord, the big rock come a-tumblin' ----
Oh, that big rock come a-tumblin' down
Tumblin' down, tumblin' down
Lord, the big rock come a-tumblin' down

John Henry said to his shaker,
"What seem to be the trouble with you?"
That Big Bend Tunnel on the CVQ,
Lord, it was gonna be the death of ---
Lord, it's gonna be the death of him
Of ---, of you
Lord, it's gonna be the death of him

"Where'd you get that pretty little red hat,
Shoes and stockings so fine?"
"Got this hat from a railroad man,
Got these stockings from a driver in the mine.
In the mine, in the mine
Got these stockings from a driver in the mine"

"Now, who gonna shoe your little feet?
Who gonna glove your hand?
Who gonna kiss your rosy cheeks?
Lord, who's gonna be your man?
Says now, who's gonna be your man?"

"Papa gonna shoe my little feet,
Papa's gonna glove my hand,
Papa gonna kiss my rosy cheeks,
Lord, and Papa's gonna be my man.
Oh, Papa's gonna be my man.
Oh, Papa's gonna be my man.
Oh, Papa's gonna be my ----"

SOLO

Now, when John Henry died
Buried him in the sand
Three of his womens come a-passin' by, singin'
"This sure been a steel-drivin' man,
Sure been a steel-drivin' man."

OUTRO

All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 06:29:51 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #68 on: February 17, 2014, 04:51:04 PM »
Hi all,
Carl Martin did a version of "John Henry" on his Testament album, for which he played mandolin in G, accompanied by Johnny Young on guitar, also working out of the G position.  This is one of the versions that is more bare bones in terms of telling the story, as opposed to some of the epic versions.  Carl Martin takes some terrific mandolin solos on it, though, and as most often seems to be the case, he has some different twists and turns of phrase in his lyrics.

John Henry was a little man
Settin' on his Papa's knee, and said,
"Drivin' steel on this B & O road,
Gonna cause the death of me,
It's gonna cause the death of me."

SOLO ON TAG

John Henry said to his captain,
"A man ain't nothin' but a man.
And before I'll be governed by this steel drill there,
I will die with my hammer in my hand,
I'm gonna die with this hammer in my hand."

FULL SOLO

John Henry told his steel shaker,
"Shaker you had better pray.
Because if I miss this eagle steel,
Lord, tomorrow be your buryin' day
Lord, tomorrow'll be your buryin' day
Yes, tomorrow be your bury, buryin' day, go buddy,
Tomorrow be your buryin' day

FULL SOLO

All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #69 on: March 03, 2014, 03:47:20 PM »
Hi all

Arthur Bell did a nice unaccompanied version of John Henry, for the LoC, in 1939, at Camp No. 5, Cummings State Farm, Gould, Arkansas.

https://archive.org/details/ArthurBell-JohnHenry

Cheers

Pan


Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #70 on: March 13, 2014, 11:26:58 AM »
Hi all,
Dock Boggs recorded "John Henry" on June 4, 1964, with banjo in gDGBD tuning in G and Mike Seeger backing him on guitar.  Dock almost gets a Buegrassy sound on his rendition, especially behind the last two lines of each verse.  I've had a difficult time hearing some lines and would appreciate correction/corroboration, especially at the indicated places in verses two and three.

John Henry was a little baby
Singin' on his daddy's knee
'Bout, "The Big Bend Tunnel on the C & O road,
It's a-gonna be the death of me,
It's a-gonna be the death of me

John Henry put [a hole] in the rock
Looked down in the [sign]
Oh, the rock was so tall, John Henry was so small
He laid down his hammer and he cried,
He laid down his hammer and he cried

Well, the people all heard a mighty rumblin'
Thought the tunnel might be fallin in
John Henry said, "It's nothin' in the world
But my steel hammer [horsin'] in the wind
But my steel hammer [horsin'] in the wind

John Henry said to his shaker,
"Boy, you'd better pray.
If ever I miss this six-foot steel,
Tomorrow'll be your buryin' day
Tomorrow'll be your buryin' day."

John Henry had a little woman
Her name was Julie Ann
He hugged her, he kissed her before he died, said,
"So Julie, do the best you can, then,
Oh Julie, do the best you can

All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #71 on: March 26, 2014, 10:18:24 PM »
Hi all,
Gabriel Brown recorded two versions of "John Henry" at a field recording session in Eatonville, Florida on June 20, 1935, one an instrumental version played in C position in standard tuning and one an "almost instrumental" version played in Vestapol with a slide, in which he sang one verse.  I hadn't listened to the Vestapol version in a while, and forgotten what a showpiece it is, with very dynamic playing, moving the melody around to different registers, et al.  Here is the one verse Gabriel Brown sang.

John Henry had a little woman
Dress she wore was red
She went on down to the railroad track, says,
"Goin' to where my man fell dead,
Goin' to where my man fell dead."

All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #72 on: April 15, 2014, 05:46:33 PM »
Hi all

Pinetop Slim was discussed in this thread a while ago.

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=7589.msg60864#msg60864

Here's his version of John Henry:



Cheers

Pan

Offline Laura

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #73 on: May 07, 2014, 01:54:17 PM »
I can't stop listening to John Lee Ziegler's "Who's Gonna Be Your Man". The way he sings it is great. I notice JohnM mentioned this version previously in the thread but thought I'd add my transcription since I'd already done one. No guarantee on the accuracy - can barely make out the first few lines!

John Lee Ziegler
Who's Gonna Be Your Man
…………………………………………

What am (?) worry land(?)
Brothers(?) in that worry(?)
What am rock and wind and worried lamb(?)

Tell me (?) shoes your feet, who gonna glove your hands?
Who gonna kiss your little rosy cheeks and who gonna be your ----
Tell me who gonna be your man?

Who gonna be your ---- Tell me who gonna be your man?

Tell me where did you get them pretty little shoes? Dress you wear so fine.

Got my shoes from a railroad man got my dress from a man never ----
Got my dress from a man, never mind.

Tell me (?) shoes your feet. Who gonna glove your hands?
Who gonna kiss your little rosy cheeks and who gonna be your ----
Tell me who gonna be your man?

Don't (?)

Well my father gonna shoe my feet, mother gonna glove my hands. 
Brother gonna kiss my rosy cheeks and I won't need no ----
Tell me I won't need no man.

I won't need no ---- tell me I won't need no man.

Henry had a little woman, name was Polly-Ann.
John got sick in that bed one day and Polly drove -- like a ----
Yes and Polly drove them steels like a man.

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #74 on: May 07, 2014, 10:57:00 PM »
Laura, you sure picked a winner.  That's a beautiful performance and I think that John Lee Ziegler had an unforgettable voice, though really tough to understand at times.  I'll see if I can get anything more of it.  I'll think I'll just copy what you did here and capitalize any things I'm hearing differently.  That first stanza is the hardest to hear for me, but I realized I'd heard an Old-Time Gospel Song called "Rockin' In A Weary Land", and I think that's what he's singing in the main there.  The very end of the third line of that opening stanza I can't hear well at all.  It would be cool to get some John Lee Ziegler transcribed.
All best,
Johnm

WELL, THEY'RE ROCKIN 'ROUND THAT WEARY land
ROCKIN' 'ROUND that WEARY---
WELL, THEY'RE ROCKIN' WHEN THAT WEARY [?]

Tell me WHO GON' shoes your feet,
Who gonna glove your hands?
Who'S GON' kiss your little rosy cheeks and who gonna be your ----
Tell me who gonna be your man?

Who gonna be your ---- Tell me who gonna be your man?

Tell me where did you get them pretty little shoes? Dress you wear so fine.

Got my shoes from a railroad man got my dress from a man never ----
Got my dress from a man, never mind.

Tell me WHO GA' shoes your feet? Who'S gonna glove your hands?
Who'S gonna kiss your little rosy cheeks and who'S gonna be your ----
Tell me who'S gonna be your man?

(SPOKEN: THEM CHILDREN OVER YONDER THERE'S DANCE)

Well my father gonna shoe my feet, MAMA'S gonna glove my hands. 
Brother gonna kiss my rosy cheeks and I won't need no ----
Tell me I won't need no man.

I won't need no ---- tell me I won't need no man.

Henry had a little woman, name was Polly-Ann.
John got sick in that bed one day and Polly drove -- like a ----
Yes and Polly drove them steels like a man.