John Henry when he was a baby
Settin' on his mammy's knee
Picked up a hammer in his little right hand
Said "Hammer be the death of me, me, me
Hammer be the death of me!"
Some say he's born down in Texas
Some say he's born up in Maine
I just say he was a Louisiana man
Leader of a steel-driving chain gang
Leader of a steel-driving gang
Well the captain said to John Henry
"I'm gonna bring my steam drill around
Gonna bring my steam drill out on the job
Gonna whup that steel on down, down, down
Whup that steel on down!"
John Henry said to the captain (What he say?)
"You can bring your steam drill around
You can bring your steam drill out on the job
I'll beat your steam drill down, down, down
Beat your steam drill down!"
John Henry said to his Shaker
"Shaker, you had better pray
If you miss your six feet of steel
I'll be your buryin' day, day, day
I'll be your buryin' day!"
Now the Shaker said to John Henry (Yes, sir)
"Man ain't nothing but a man (No he ain't)
But before I'd let that steam drill beat me down (I believe him)
I'd die with my hammer in my hand, hand, hand (I believe him)
I'd die with my hammer in my hand!"
John Henry had a little woman
Her name was Polly Anne
John Henry took sick and was laid up in bed
While Polly handled steel like a man, man, man
Polly handled steel like a man.
They took John Henry to the graveyard
Laid him down in the sand
Every locomotive comin' a-rolling by
hollered "There lies a steel-drivin' man, man, man
There lies a steel-drivin' man!"