John Henry (sung by Ollie Gilbert, Arkansas 1970)
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John Henry was a little bitty boy
Set on his Daddy's knee
He picked up a hammer an' a little piece o' steel
Sayin' this 'll be th death of me Lord, Lord
This will be th death of me
John Henry said, to his Captain
Er' you going to town
Bring me back, nine pound hammer
I'm goin' t' drive th steel on down, down, down
Gonna drive th steel on down
They took John Henry to th mountin'
Th mountin' was so high
Th mountin' was tall, John Henry is small
Lay down his hammer an' he died Lord, Lord
Lay down his hammer an' he cried
John Henry told th Captin'
A man ain't nothin' but a man
An' before I'll let your drill beat me
I'll die with my hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord
Die with my hammer in my hand
John Henry said to th Captin'
Boy, you'd better pray
For if I miss with my nine pound hammer
Tomorrow 'll be your buryin' day Lord, Lord
Tomorrow 'll be your buryin' day
They took John Henry to a tunnell
An' buried him in th sand
An' ever woman that come down that road
Say, there lay a steel drivin' man, Lord, Lord
There lay a steel drivin' man
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Source: John Henry, sung by Ollie Gilbert (1970). Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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