John Henry-Rich Amerson

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John Henry-Rich Amerson
Rich Amerson, lead vocal, Earthy Ann Coleman, backing vocal

John Henry said to the captain,
That a man is not but a man,
Said, "Before I let this steam drill beat me down,
I'll hammer my fool self to death,
I'll hammer my fool self to death."

John Henry had a little woman
Well, the dress she wore, it's a-red, like blood
And the shoes she wore, it's a-red
Well, the hat she had on it's a-red
That woman's eyes had turned red with blood
Well, she come a-screamin' and a-cryin' that day
Come a-walkin' down, a-that railroad track
The captain's replied to the woman,
Says, "Tell me, woman, what's troublin' your mind."
Says, "I'm goin' where my man fell dead."
Says, "I'm goin' where my man fell dead."
Says, "I'm goin' where my man fell dead."
Says, "I'm goin' where my man fell dead.
He done hammered his fool self to death.
He done hammered his fool self to death."

John Henry had another woman
Well, her name was Polly Ann
Well, Polly Ann, she heard about this man's dead
Well, what you reckon she said?
Said, "Before I'll stand to see my man go down",
Said, "Give me a ten-pound hammer,
Gonna hook it on to the right of my arm,
Gonna bring me a nine-pound hammer,
I'm gonna hitch it on to the left of my arm,
Before I stand to see my man go down,
I'll go down 'tween of them mountains.
And before I'll stand to see, man go down,
I'll hammer, just like a man,
I'm gon' hammer, just like a man.
I'm gon' hammer, just like a man,
I'm gon' hammer, just like a man."
I'm gon' whup a-this mountain down,
I'm gon' whup a-this mountain down."
He say, "I'll hammer my fool self to death,
I'll hammer my fool self to death."

John Henry had a little baby boy
You could tote it in the pan of your hand
Well, a-every time a-that baby cried,
He looked at his mother face
Well his mother looked down all in her baby's face,
"Tell, tell me, son, what you worryin' about."
The last lovin' words you will hear the boy say,
"Mam', I want to make a railroad man,
Mam', I want to make a railroad man.
I want to die like Papa died,
I want to die like Papa died."
"Son, Papa was a steel-drivin' man,
Son, Papa was a steel-drivin' man,
But he hammered his fool self to death,
Yes, he hammered his fool self to death."

John Henry had another little baby boy
He were layin' in the cradle, kickin' and cryin'
Every time Mama rocked, the baby bumped a-lump-a-lump
"I want to make a railroad man,
Say, I want to make a railroad man.
Wanta die like Papa died,
I wanta die like Papa died."
"Son, your Daddy was a steel-drivin' man,
Your Daddy was a steel-drivin' man,
But he hammered his fool self to death,
But he hammered his fool self to death."

When the Henry was seein' them mountains
The captain saw him gwine down
He 'plied to Henry one day,
Tried to pacify to his mind
Said, "Henry, you know you's a natch'l man."
Well, what you reckon that he said?
Said, "The steam drill driver gonna hammer my steel,
Well, the steam drill driver, one by air,
Well, how in the world, you 'xpect to beat steam down?
And how in the world you 'xpect to beat air down?
Henry's reply to his captain that day,
"Steam is steam, I know air is air,
'Fore I let the steam drill beat me down,
I say, I'll die with these hammers in my hand,
I'm gon' die with these hammers in my hand.
I'm gon' hammer my fool self to death,
I'm gon' hammer my fool self to death."

When the Henry was seein' them mountains
His wife could hear the hammers cryin',
When she went down 'tween them mountains,
For to get a little iron down
He surprised his wife that day,
Said, "My kneebones are gettin' to grow cold."
Said, "My grip of my hands, givin' out.
My eyes begin to leak water.
Before I lay a-these hammers down,
I'll die with these hammers in my hand,
I'm gon' die with these hammers in my hand."

Take John Henry to the cemetery,
Laid him in his lonesome grave
Wife, she walks up at the foot of his grave,
Cast her eyes in her husband's face
Commenced screamin' and a-cryin' that day
Preacher looked 'round her, at the woman's face
"Tell me, woman, what you screamin' about?"
Last lovin' words that she 'plied to him,
"Tain't but the one thing, troubles my mind,
That certainly was a true man to me,
That certainly was a true man to me.
But he hammered his fool self to death,
He hammered his fool self to death."

John Henry's wife sittin' down one day
Just about hour of sun
Commenced to screamin' and a-cryin',
Papa said, "Daughter, what' troublin' your mind?"
"I got three little children here,
Who gonna help-a me carry 'em along?
Who gonna shoe my children's feet?
Who gonna glove a-my children's hand?
Who gon' shoe my lovin' feet?
Who gon' glove a-my lovin' hand?"
Papa looked 'round her, at his daughter's face,
Tried to pacify his daughter's mind
"Daughter, I'll shoe your lovin' feet.
Daughter, I'll shoe your children's feet.
Daughter, I'll glove a-your lovin' hand.
Daughter, I'll glove a-your children's feet."
Brother, he looked her, in his sister's face,
Tryed to pacify a-his sister's mind
"Sister, I kiss your rosy little cheeks."
"But you can't be my lovin' man,
Brother, can't be my lovin' man.
Papa can't be my lovin' man,
Papa can't be my lovin' man.
'Cause you can't follow the whole deal down,
Brother, can't follow the whole deal down.
Papa can't follow the whole deal down,
Papa can't follow the whole deal down."

SPOKEN: That's old John Henry from the mountains, directly.

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