American Ballads and Folk Songs: page - 0103

Complete Text, Lyrics & Sheet Music

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Index Next
JOHN HENRY*
TAKING a long chance on the weather, my guide, Manny Camp-11 bell, and I made the trip of three miles from Edisto to Fen-wick [Island] in a rowboat. . . . Suddenly a stiff, cold wind came from the north, and a few moments later the rain began to fall in tor­rents. . . . Manny and I took refuge in a two-room cabin where two women and several children were sitting around an open fire trying to keep warm, . . . With the help of Manny, I soon got one of the women to 'talk some ol' storee.' This good fortune did not last long. George White, husband of the story teller, came in from the field wet and disgusted, dampening the spirit of the party. There was too much rain, the rain was going to rot the potatoes, the cabbage and lettuce were going to ruin, the whole damned island was a hell of a place. . . . After his temper had cooled a little, his wife reminded him that it would be a good idea for him to row down to Bennett's Point for some supplies.
'"We got grits, enty?' said White. 'We can git along till to­morrow.'
"His wife was silent for a few minutes, then again suggested the great need of food for the family.
" 'Great Gawd!' growled George, 'go out in dis wedder? Not me, I got enough o' boats for a w'ile.' He launched into a story of a row-boat trip. . . . He had rowed all day and half the night. . . .
" 'My hands am' got over it yet. . . . W'en I got here my hands was gripped to dem oar. ... I couldn' even turn dem oar a-loose. Dey had to take 'em out o' my hands for me.'
*Story made from Carl Sandburg's Songbag, from Professor Guy Johnson's John Henry, and from various Negro singers in Southern penitentiaries.
[3]






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III