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Yeah, you live so long, when you dead, you're done - Booker White, from "Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends - Party! At Home", Arcola Records A CD1001

Author Topic: John Henry  (Read 29616 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #90 on: July 23, 2014, 11:42:10 AM »
Hi all,
Here is a version by Henry Grady Terrell, recorded by Art Rosenbaum.



John Henry died on the mountain
John Henry died on the mountain
He was a-whupping steel, a-whupping steel
Oh partner, he was a-whupping steel

I ain't gon' tell nobody my right name
I ain't gon' tell nobody my right name
My name is Sam, my name is Sam
And I don't give a --
Oh partner, and I don't give a --

Anybody aks you, was I runnin'
Anybody aks you, was I runnin'
Now, tell 'em no, no, I was flyin'
Oh partner, you know I was flyin'

I run 'cross Blue Ridge Mountain
I run 'cross that Blue Ridge Mountain
When the sun went down, when the sun went down
Oh captain, a-when the sun went down

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 06:06:28 PM by Johnm »

Offline Pan

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #91 on: August 15, 2014, 04:51:49 PM »
Hi all

I don't think this was mentioned? Jimmie Owens did John Henry in the State Penitentiary, Richmond, Virginia, on Sunday, 31 May 1936.



John Henry was a little teeny boy
Settin' on his Daddy's knee
He pointed his finger at a little piece of steel
"Lordy,that's gon' be the death of poor me,
Lordy, that's gon' be the death of poor me."

John Henry went up on the mountain
The mountain come crashing around
He cast his eye 'tween the Lord and the sky
Sayin', "It's nothin' but my hammer fallin' down,
Lord, it's nothin' but my hammer fallin' down."

John Henry worked on the railroad
That's where he earned his bread
Lord, Rosie got a message 'way down home
That old John Henry was dead
That old John Henry was dead

SOLO

Lord, when John Henry went up on the mountain
He went up to drive some ties
They got a message 'way down home
That John Henry wasn't no man of a mine
That John Henry wasn't no man of a mine

"Tell me, where did you get those new shoes from,
Dress you wear, so fine?"
"Shoes came from a railroad man,
And the dress from a man in the mine,
Lord, the dress from a man in the mine."

SOLO

John Henry got drunk and begin to search his trunk
Sayin' "All I want's my own."
Said, "All I want is my .44 gun,
And I'll blow her on down to my size,
Lord, I'll blow him down to my size."

SOLO

Edited 9/17 to pick up corrections from Gumbo


Cheers

Pan
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 03:45:34 PM by Johnm »

Offline joebanjo

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #92 on: August 16, 2014, 08:54:57 PM »

FYI for folks not in the class, these songs were peformed a capella and were recorded by Dr. Cortez Reese in southern West Virginia from 1949 to 1953 and released on a CD called Work and Pray.


Waxwing, is this the "Work and Pray" to which you refer?

http://www.arhoolie.com/gospel/paramount-singers-work-and-pray-on.html?sl=EN

If not, where can i find it?

Many thanks,

joe

Offline frankie

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #93 on: August 16, 2014, 09:55:39 PM »

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #94 on: September 17, 2014, 10:54:58 AM »
Hi all,
Pan posted a really nice version of "John Henry" by Jimmy Owens three posts back in this thread, at:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4256.msg88713#msg88713 , and I've done a start on transcribing the lyrics there, but I'm stumped by a couple of passages.  I'd very much appreciate help with any of the bent bracketed passages.  Thanks.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Gumbo

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #95 on: September 17, 2014, 11:51:58 AM »
I have a couple of suggestions, John.

1.4 sounds like 'Lordy'  again. I don't hear 'says'

2.4 and 2.5 sounds like 'It's' rather than 'that's'

3.3 Lord, Rosie got a message way down home (similar to the 4th verse.)

4.1 spellings
4.4 and 4.5 wasn't no MAN OF A MINE (though I'm not sure what this means.)

5.1 began to SEARCH his trunk

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #96 on: September 17, 2014, 12:55:32 PM »
Thanks so much for your suggestions, Gumbo, I believe they are all spot on.  I will make the changes.  Maybe not being a "man of a mine" means he was not a coal miner, but a railroad man?  Why they would get a message at home to that effect I can't guess.
I really like this version and especially like the line,
   He cast his eye 'tween the Lord and the sky

Thanks for the help.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Gumbo

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #97 on: September 17, 2014, 03:31:55 PM »
I wonder if it means that he is no longer a man of the mine? It would connect with the previous verse and make the following verse more poignant. Either way it is a lovely track with a great pulse. Another reason to love Weeniecampbell  8)

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #98 on: September 18, 2014, 10:24:07 AM »
Hi all,
There is another really nice version of "John Henry" on the previous page of this thread by Reese Crenshaw, at:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4256.msg88347#msg88347 .  I've taken a run at transcribing his lyrics and would very much appreciate help with the bent bracketed passages which I've been unable to decipher thus far.  Thanks for help with finishing the transcription.
All best,
Johnm

Offline jphauser

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #99 on: September 18, 2014, 11:33:43 AM »
Hi all,
There is another really nice version of "John Henry" on the previous page of this thread by Reese Crenshaw, at:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4256.msg88347#msg88347 .  I've taken a run at transcribing his lyrics and would very much appreciate help with the bent bracketed passages which I've been unable to decipher thus far.  Thanks for help with finishing the transcription.
All best,
Johnm

In the third verse I hear "Been seven years on your chain gang." 

Woody Guthrie also recorded a version with Cisco Houston in which John Henry is on a chain gang.

Jim Hauser

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #100 on: September 18, 2014, 12:11:20 PM »
Thanks very much for the help, Jim.  In re-listening to the line several times, I think he sings,
   Says, in five long years on your chain gang
   You don't dog nobody but me, etc.
I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #101 on: September 18, 2014, 03:59:07 PM »
That Reese Crenshaw version is smokin'. I think I hear five years, though a tough one.

Offline jphauser

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #102 on: September 18, 2014, 08:20:29 PM »
Thanks very much for the help, Jim.  In re-listening to the line several times, I think he sings,
   Says, in five long years on your chain gang
   You don't dog nobody but me, etc.
I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm

To me, it's very unclear, but I'll go along with 5. 

By the way, Pink Anderson has a similar verse in his version except there's no mention of a chain gang and the number of years is 12.  https://archive.org/details/PinkAnderson-JohnHenry

Jim

Offline Johnm

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #103 on: September 21, 2014, 10:51:19 AM »
Hi all,
Here is a ripping version from the Lilly Brothers, Everett on lead vocal and mandolin, and Bea on guitar, with Don Stover playing the banjo--whew!



John Henry, he was a little baby boy
No bigger than the palm of your hand
His Mammy looked down at John Henry and said,
"Johnny gonna be a steel-drivin' man, Lord, Lord.
Johnny gonna be a steel-drivin' man."

BANJO SOLO

John Henry, he said to his captain,
"Captain, you goin' into town,
Bring me back a nine-pound hammer
For I want to see that railroad down, Lord, Lord,
I want to see that railroad down."

MANDOLIN SOLO

John Henry said to his shaker,
"Shaker, you better pray.
For if I miss that little piece of steel,
Tomorrow'll be your dyin' day, Lord, Lord,
tomorrow be your dyin' day."

BANJO SOLO

John Henry went up on the mountain
He looked down on the other side
The mountain was so tall, John Henry was so small
He laid down his hammer and he cried, Lord, Lord,
He laid down his hammer and he cried

MANDOLIN SOLO

John Henry, he had a purty little woman
Her name was Polly Ann
John Henry took sick and had to go to bed
Polly drove the steel like a man, Lord, Lord,
Polly drove the steel just like a man

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 03:09:12 PM by Johnm »

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #104 on: September 21, 2014, 08:26:18 PM »
i dont know if this was shared before or not...


John Henry was a steel-drivin' ---
John Henry was a steel-drivin' man
John Henry died, a hammer in his ---
John Henry died, a hammer in his ---
John Henry was a steel-drivin' man

John Henry, he said, just before he died
What are the two more roads that he want to ride
Lord, John Henry ---
Lord, John Henry said before he died
Lordy, two more roads he want to ride
Lord, he want ---
Oh Lord, he want ---

Lord, I got up one mornin', well, it looked like rain
Look around the curve, come a passenger train
Lord, John ---
Lord, John Henry said 'fore he died
Lordy, two more roads he want to ride

John Henry had a wife, dress she wore was red
Last word I heared her say, "I'm goin' where Johnny fell dead.
Lord, I'm ---
Lord, I'm gwine ---
Lord, I'm ---
Lord, I'm goin', John Henry fell ---
Lord, I'm goin' John Henry ---
Lord, I'm goin' where John Henry ---."
« Last Edit: September 23, 2014, 03:44:08 PM by Johnm »
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