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American Ballads and Folk Songs
Dey took John Henry to de graveyard,
An' dey buried him in de san',
An' every locomotive come roarin' by,
Says, "Dere lays a steel-drivin' man,
Lawd, Lawd, dere lays a steel-drivin' man," *
JOHN HENRY [A Variant]
"Here is a song you may not know. I learned it from a white man who said he learned it from Negroes. As it stands it is too perfect for a Negro song, but, to me, it bears the earmarks of Negro origin, and the same holds true of the tune—which I wish I could transmit." t
John Henry was a steel drivin' man
And he drove at the head of his squad.
One day the head of his hammer come off
And he laid down his hammer and he died, by God,
Yes, he laid down his hammer and he died.
John Henry's wife came out of the east And she come all dressed in blue, Looked down at her pretty little feet— And I wish my wife was true, by God, Yes, I wish my wife was true.
John Henry's wife came out of the east, And she come all dressed in red, Looked down at her pretty little feet— And I wish my wife was dead, by God, Yes, I wish my wife was dead.
Now Rattler was a good coon dog, But as blind as he could be,
« This stanza and the two preceding are quoted from Odum and Johnson's Negro Workaday Songs, t R. V. Utter, R.F.D. No. 1, Clayton, Mo.