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The Legend of John Henry's Hammer Lyrics

Artist: Johnny Cash
Album: At Folsom Prison

John Henry's Papy woke him up one midnight
He said before the serrif comes i wanna tell you, listen boy,
said learn to ball a jack, learn to lay a track, learn to pick and shovel too, and take my hammer, it'll do anything you tell it to

John Hery's mammie had about a dozen babies, John Henry's papie told tale about a dozen times
the babies all got sick and when the doctor wanted money, he siad i'll pay you quarter at a time, sartin tommorow, thats the pay for a steel driver on this line

Then the section foreman said hey hammer swinger, i see you brought you own hammer boy, but what else can all those muscles do?
and he said, I can turn a jack, i can lay a track, i can pick a shovel too
(can you swing a hammer boy?)
i can i'll do anything oyu hire me to

now aint you something so high and mighty with your muscles, just go ahead pick up that hammer, pick up the hammer

he said get a rusty spike and swing it down three times, i'll pay you a nickel a day for every inch you sink it to, go on and do what you say you can do

With a steep nose hammer on a four foot switch panel, John Henry raised it back till it touched his heels, then the spike went through the cross tie and it split it half in two, 35 cents a fay for driven steel,
(sewat sweat boy, sweat, you owe me two more swings)
I was born for driven steel

Well John Henry hammered in the mountain, he'd give a grunt and he'd give groan with every swing, the women folks for miles around, heard him and come down, to watch him make the cold steel ring, lord what a swinger, just listen to that cold steel ring,

but the bad boss come up laguhing at John Henry, said you full of vinegar now, but you bout through, were gona get a steam drill to do your share of driven, then whats all them muscles gonna do, huh John Henry, gonna take a little bit of vinegar out of you

John Henry said i feed four little brothers, and baby sisters walking on her knees, did the lord say that machines awtta take the place of living, and whats a subsitute for bread and beans, i saint seen it, do engines get rewarded for their steam

John Henry hid in a coal mine for his dinner now, had thirty minutes to rest before the bell, the mine boss hollered get up whoever you are and get a pick ax, give me enough coal to start another hill, and keep it burning, mine me enough to start another hill

John Henry said to his captain, a man aint nothin but a man, but if you bring that steam drill round, i'll beat it fair and honest, i'll die with my hammer in my hand, but i'll be laughing, cuz you cant replace a steel driven man

There was a big crowd of people at the mountain, John henry said to the steam drill how is you, pardon me mister steam drill, i suppose you didnt hear me, i said how you, well can you turn a jack, can you lay a track, can you pick and shovel too, listen this hammer swingers talkin to you

2000 people hollered go John Henry, then somebody hollered the mountains caving in, John Henry told the captain, thell the kind fols not to worry, that aint nothin but my hammer suckin wind, keeps me breathing, a steel drivers muscle i intend,

Captain tell the people move back further, i'm at the finish line and i aint no drill, shes so far behind you aint got the brains to quit it, when she blows up she'll scatter cross the hills, lord lordy, when she blows up she'll scatter cross the hills

Well John Henry had a little woman, i believe the lady's name was polly ann, yeah that was his good woman, john henry threw his hammer over his shoulder and went on home, he layed down to rest his weary back and early next morining he said come here polly ann come here sugar, ya know i believe this is the first time i ever watched the sun come up that i couldnt come up

Take my hammer polly ann and go to that rail road, swing that hammer like you seen me do it, and when your swinging with the lead men, they'l all know they'll all know your John Henry's woman, but tell them thats not all i can do, tell em i can hoist a jack, and i can lay a track, i can pick and shovel too, aint no machine can, thats been proved to you

There was a big crowd of moarners at the church house, the section hands laid him in the sand, trains go by on the rails john henry laid, they slow down and take off their hats, the men do, when they come to the palce John Henrys laid, rests on his back, some say mornin steel driver you sure were a hammer swinger, then they go along pickin up speed, clikty clak, clikty clak, down there lies a steel driven man oh lord, down there lies a steel driven man, down there lies a steel driven man oh lord, down there lies a steel driven man
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