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My Little John Henry

This song is by Guy Carawan and appears on the compilation Die Burg Waldeck Festivals 1964-1969 - Chanson Folklore International (2008).

John Henry, he was a little baby-boy
Sittin' on his daddy's knee
There he picked up a hammer in his little right hand
"Hammer gonna be the death of me!
Hammer gonna be the death of me!"

John Henry, he said to his captain
"Captain, you goin' into town
Bring me back a nine-pound hammer
For I want to see that railroad down, Lord, Lord
I want to see that railroad down

"Well", the captain said to John Henry
"I'm gonna bring my steam drill around
Gonna whup that steel on down, down, down
Whup that steel on down!"

John Henry said to the captain:
"You can bring your steam drill around
Gonna bring my steam drill out on the job
I'll beat your steam drill down, down, down
Beat your steam drill down!"

John Henry said to his shaker
"Shaker you had better pray
If you miss your six feet of steel
It'll be your buryin' day, day, day
It'll be your buryin' day!"

Now the shaker said to John Henry
"Man ain't nothing but a man
But before I'd let that steam drill beat me down
I'd die with an hammer in my hand hand hand!
I'd die with an hammer in my hand!"

John Henry had a little woman
Her name was Polly Anne
John Henry took sick and was laid up in bed
While Polly handled steel like a man, man, man
Polly handled steel like a man!

They took John Henry to the graveyard
Laid him down in the sand
Every locomotive comin' a-rolling by, by, by
Hollered: "There lies a steel-drivin' man, man, man!
There lies a steel-drivin' man!"

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US-traditional

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