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An Anonymous Worker

"The Ballad of John Henry" (karaoke)

"The Ballad of John Henry" (sheet music)


When John Henry was a little baby,

Sitting on his pappy’s knee,

He grabbed a hammer and a little piece of steel,

Said, “This hammer’ll be the death of me, Lord, Lord.

This hammer’ll be the death of me.”

 

Now, the captain said to John Henry,

I’m gonna bring that steam drill around.

I’m gonna take that steam drill out on the job,

I’m gonna whop that steel on down, Lord, Lord.

Gonna whop that steel on down.”

 

John Henry told his captain,

“A man ain’t nothing but a man,

But before I let that steam drill beat me down,

I’ll die with my hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord.

I’ll die with my hammer in my hand.”

 

John Henry said to his shaker,

“Now, shaker, why don’t you sing?

‘Cause I’m throwing twelve pounds from my hips on down.

Just listen to that cold steel ring, Lord, Lord.

Just listen to that cold steel ring.”

 

The man that invented the steam drill,

He thought he was mighty fine.

But John Henry, he made fourteen feet

While the steam drill only made nine, Lord, Lord.

The steam drill only made nine.

 

John Henry hammered on the mountain

Till his hammer was striking fire.

He drove so hard he broke his poor heart.

Then, he laid down his hammer and he died, Lord, Lord.

He laid down his hammer and he died.

 

They took John Henry to the graveyard,

And they buried him in the sand.

And every locomotive comes rolling by

Says, “Here lies a steel-driving man, Lord, Lord.

Here lies a steel-driving man.”

 

Now, some say he was born in Texas,

And some say he was born in Maine.

But I don’t give a damn where that poor boy was born.

He was a steel-driving man, Lord, Lord.

He was a steel-driving man.


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