John Henry

Paul Austin Kelly

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Song about the legendary railroad man who beat a steam engine in a race. Done with guitars, bass, drums and a soulful voice with backing vocals.

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Trad.- P.A. Kelly

Trad.- P.A. Kelly

P.A. Kelly

When John Henry was a little baby
Sitting on his mama’s knee
Well, he picked up a hammer and a little piece of steel
And said, “This hammer’s gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord!
This hammer’s gonna be the death of me!”

Well, the captain said to John Henry,
“Gonna bring me a steam drill ‘round.
Gonna bring me a steam drill out on the job
Gonna whop! that steel on down, Lord, Lord!
Gonna whop! that steel on down!”

John Henry said to his captain
“You know, a man ain’t nothing but a man.
And before I let that steam drill beat me down
I would die with a hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord!
I would die with a hammer in my hand!”

Well, the man that invented the steam drill
He thought he was mighty fine
But John Henry drove his steel 15 feet
And the steam drill only drove it 9, Lord, Lord!
The steam drill only drove it 9!

John Henry said to his shaker,
“Shaker, why don’t you sing?
Cause I’m swinging 30 pounds from my hips on down!
Just listen to that cold steel ring, Lord, Lord!
Just listen to that cold steel ring!”

The captain said to John Henry,
“I believe that mountain’s caving in!”
John Henry turned to the captain and said,
“Ain’t nuthin’ but my hammer suckin’ wind, Lord, Lord!
Ain’t nuthin’ but my hammer suckin’ wind!”

John Henry hammered in the mountain
You know his hammer was striking fire
But he worked so hard he broke his poor heart
And he laid down his hammer and he died, Lord, Lord!
He laid down his hammer and he died!


Now every Monday morning
When the Bluebird begins to sing
You can hear John Henry a mile or more
You can hear John Henry’s hammer ringing, Lord, Lord!
You can hear John Henry’s hammer ring!

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