ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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WORK-SONGS
221
Oh, my papa and my mamma think I'm dead, think I'm dead, Oh, my papa and my mamma think I'm dead!
Who shot Ida? who shot Ida? who shot Ida
In de laig? Who shot Ida? who shot Ida? who shot Ida
In de laig?
One wonders who was Ida, who sent a bullet her way, and what she had to do with John Henry. She and her wounded "laig" obscure the tradition here, and raise all sorts of questions. Contemporary legends are as fascinating and elusive as those of past centuries, and we are faced with various mysteries in this epic career of John Henry.
Wirt A. Williams furnishes another song from Mississippi, which introduces John Henry as a corpse, but only to dispose of him quickly and pass to other problems, such as the difficulty of dealing with women-folk and the dangers of stealing chickens.
John Henry's Dead
John Henry's dead, And de las' words he said, "Never let your honey Have her way."
'Way back, 'way back,
'Way back in Alabama, 'way back.
"If you let her have her way, She 'll lead you off astray, Keep you in trouble All your days."
'Way back, 'way back,
'Way back in Alabama, 'way back.
"De chickens in my sack, De bloodhounds on my track, Going to make it to my shanty If I can."
'Way back, 'way back,
'Way back in Alabama, 'way back.
John Henry has " died more deaths than one" in legend; for, while some of the songs about him represent him as expiring of a hammer, others show his demise to be intimately connected with a rope







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