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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NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
The Funeral Train
The funeral train is coming, I know it's going to slack,
For the passengers all are crying and the train is craped in black.
Chorus
You belong to that funeral train, You belong to that funeral train, You belong to that funeral train, Oh, sinner, why don't you pray?
Yes, when I get up to heaven with God, I'm going to remain Where death can never enter, and there won't be no funeral train.
Chorus
My friends, I want to tell you that you ought to try to pray, For the funeral train is coming to take somebody away.
Chorus
This train that I am singing about has neither whistle nor bell, But when you reach your station it will either be Heaven or Hell.
Chorus
There are many other railroad songs that might be given, but these are enough to illustrate the fondness the Negro feels for the track and the train. He seems to have overlooked the automobile in his folk-song, for I have found no instance of the auto-motive in any song. Perhaps that is because, in general, he has less intimacy with it though now many Negroes drive cars for others, or possess their own. But Professor Thomas suggests that property-owning Negroes do not sing.
However that may be, at least we know that the colored man loves a train. He not only sings about it, but in his music imitates its rhythmic movement and its noise. Professor Odum has expressed this vividly in his article in the Journal of American Folk-lord from which I again quote by permission of author and editor. The Negro can make his guitar or banjo, which he calls a "box," sound just like a train.
<3f these train songs, Professor Odum says:
"This imitation is done by the rapid running of the fingers along the strings, and by the playing of successive chords with a regularity that makes a sound similar to that of a moving train. The train is n^ade to whistle by a prolonged and consecutive striking of the strings, while the bell rings with the striking of a single string. As the Negroes imagine themselves observing the train, or riding, the







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