John Henry
Traditional - Woody Guthrie* - Leadbelly

Now I tell you the story of John Henry
I guess he was a Louisiana man
But one thing is right: in that night when he died
He was the leader of a steeldrivin’ chain gang

John Henry when he was a baby, (that’s told)
Sittin’ on his daddy’s knee
He pint his little finger at a piece of steel
And said: steel goin’ be the death of me me me

Well, some say he’s born down in Texas
Some say he was born up in Main
But I just say he was a Louisiana man
He was the leader of a steeldrivin’ chain gang

John Henry had a little woman
Just as pretty as she could be
The only objection I’ze got to her
She want ev’ry man she see see see

John Henry had another woman
The dress she wore was blue
She went walkin down the track, she never came back
This loved one had never been true true true

They took John Henry to the mountain
That mountain was so high
Mountain so tall and John Henry so small
Laid down his hammer and he cried cried cried

Once, John Henry said to his shaker
Shaker, boy, you better pray
‘Cause if you miss your six-foot steel
Tomorrow’ll be your buryin’ day day day

Now the shaker said to John Henry
When a man is nothin’ but a man
I’m a throwin’ a hundred pound, from my hips throwin’ down
I’m a-doin’ all what any man can can can

Than the captain said to John Henry
I believe this mountain’s sinkin’ in
But John Henry said: ain’t nothin’ but my hammer
Ain’t nothin’ but my hammer’s sucking win’ win’ win’

When John Henry died in that mountain
All the women couldn’t stay in bed
They stood in the rain, to catch the east bound train
Going where John Henry’s dead dead dead

They took John Henry to the tunnel
And they buried him in the sand
Ev’ry little girl, coming down the road, said
There lays my steeldrivin’ man man man


* My version is a mix from different versions

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