John Henry

Paper details:
Topic: Answer one of the two questions: (a) Find a written version of the John Henry

folktale online. How does the version recorded on the text CD deviate or complement the written version OR (b) What is Lias’ revelation
Journal Topic: Answer one of the two questions: (a) Find a written version of the John Henry
folktale online. How does the version recorded on the text CD deviate or complement the written version OR (b) What is Lias’ revelation
JOHN HENRY, STEEL DRIVING MAN
The song
When John Henry was a little baby
Sitting on his daddy’s knee
Pointed he figured out a little piece of steel
Steel’s gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord

Steel’s gonna be the death of me
Well, now steel’s gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord
Steel’s gonna be the death of me

John Henry told his captain one day
‘A man ain’t nothin’ but a man
Before I will let you steam drill beat me down
Would die with this hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord’

Die with this hammer in my hand
I would die with this hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord,
Die with this hammer in my hand

John Henry had a little woman
Her name was Polly Ann
John Henry got sick and had to go to bed
You know Polly, she drove steel like a man, Lord, Lord
Polly, she drove steel like a man

How she drive John Henry drivin’ on the right hand side
Steam drill drivin’ on the left
Before I will let your steam drill beat me down
I will drive my poor self to death, Lord, Lord
Drive my poor self to death

John Henry drove steel on the Southern
He drove steel on the C&O.
He drove steel for that Big Ben Tunnel
Steel drivin’ kill John you know, steel drivin’ kill John you know
Well, now steel drivin’ kill John you know, Lord, Lord
Steel drivin’ kill John you know
image: http://static.urx.io/units/web/urx-unit-loader.gif

Some says John Henry was born in Texas
Some people thinks he was born in Maine
John Henry was born down in Tennessee
He was a leader of a steel-driving-gang, Lord, Lord

Leader of a steel-driving-gang
Was a leader of a steel-driving-gang, Lord, Lord
Leader of a steel-driving-gang

Well, the captain loved to see John Henry
One of all loved to hear him sing
But most of all that the paymaster loved

He just loved to get John Henry’s hammer ring
He just loved to get John Henry’s hammer ring
He just loved to get John Henry’s hammer ring, Lord, Lord,
Loved to get John Henry’s hammer ring

They carried John Henry on the mountain
Upon a mountain so high
Last words I heard that poor boy say
Give me a cool drink of water ‘fore I die
Give me a cool drink of water ‘fore I die
Give me a cool drink of water ‘fore I die

Well, they carried John Henry’s body to the White-house
And they laid it in the sand
Every time a locomotive follows go rollin’ by

They say, yonder lays a steel-drivin’ man
Well, now yonder lays a steel-drivin’ man
They say yonder lays a steel-drivin’ man
Yonder lays a steel-drivin’ man
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/sonny-terry-brownie-mcghee/john-henry-lyrics/#IVM4dIWxTo2KFKFI.99
JOHN HENRY, STEEL DRIVING MAN

Now John Henry was a mighty man, yes sir. He was born a slave in the 1840’s but was freed after the war. He went to work as a steel-driver for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, don’t ya know. And John Henry was the strongest, the most powerful man working the rails.
John Henry, he would spend his day’s drilling holes by hitting thick steel spikes into rocks with his faithful shaker crouching close to the hole, turning the drill after each mighty blow. There was no one who could match him, though many tried.
Well, the new railroad was moving along right quick, thanks in no little part to the mighty John Henry. But looming right smack in its path was a mighty enemy – the Big Bend Mountain. Now the big bosses at the C&O Railroad decided that they couldn’t go around the mile and a quarter thick mountain. No sir, the men of the C&O were going to go through it – drilling right into the heart of the mountain.
A thousand men would lose their lives before the great enemy was conquered. It took three long years, and before it was done the ground outside the mountain was filled with makeshift, sandy graves. The new tunnels were filled with smoke and dust. Ya couldn’t see no-how and could hardly breathe. But John Henry, he worked tirelessly, drilling with a 14-pound hammer, and going 10 to 12 feet in one workday. No one else could match him.
Then one day a salesman came along to the camp. He had a steam-powered drill and claimed it could out-drill any man. Well, they set up a contest then and there between John Henry and that there drill. The foreman ran that newfangled steam-drill. John Henry, he just pulled out two 20-pound hammers, one in each hand. They drilled and drilled, dust rising everywhere. The men were howling and cheering. At the end of 35 minutes, John Henry had drilled two seven foot holes – a total of fourteen feet, while the steam drill had only drilled one nine-foot hole.
John Henry held up his hammers in triumph! The men shouted and cheered. The noise was so loud, it took a moment for the men to realize that John Henry was tottering. Exhausted, the mighty man crashed to the ground, the hammer’s rolling from his grasp. The crowd went silent as the foreman rushed to his side. But it was too late. A blood vessel had burst in his brain. The greatest driller in the C&O Railroad was dead.
Some folks say that John Henry’s likeness is carved right into the rock inside the Big Bend Tunnel. And if you walk to the edge of the blackness of the tunnel, sometimes you can hear the sound of two 20-pound hammers drilling their way to victory over the machine.

 
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