When John Henry was a little baby
Sittin' on his daddy's knee
Said the big Ben Tuttle of the C &O Road,
"The hammer's gonna be the death of thee, lord, lord
The hammer's gonna be the death of thee"
John Henry said to his captain,
"A man ain't nothing' but a man
Before I let this steam drill beat me down
I'll die with a hammer in my hand, lord, lord,
I'll die with a hammer in my hand"
Well, the man who invented the steam drill
Thought he was mighty fine
But John Henry drove about fifteen feet
And the steam drill only made nine, lord, lord,
The steam drill only made nine
John Henry said to his preacher,
"Man, why don't you pray,
'cause if I miss with this nine pound hammer
Tomorrow be my buryin' day lord, lord,
Tomorrow be my buryin' day
John Henry swung the hammer over his head
He brought the hammer down to the ground
A man in Chantanooga two hundred miles away
Said, "Listen to the rumblin' sound, lord, lord,
Listen to that rumblin' sound"
They took John Henry to the graveyard,
Buried him in the hot sand
Now every locomotive comes rollin' by says,
"There lies a steel-drivin' man, lord, lord,
There lies a steel drivin' man!"