John Henry when he was a baby,
Sittin’ on his Pappy’s knee,
He point his little finger at a piece of steel,
And said, "That steel goin’ be the death of me."
Captain says to John Henry,
"Gonna bring that steam drill 'round,
Gonna take that steam drill out on the job,
Gonna whop that steel on down."
John Henry told his Captain,
"A man ain't nothing but a man,
Before I'll let that steam drill beat me down
I'll die with this hammer in my hand."
John Henry driving on the right hand side,
Steam drill driving on the left,
Says, "Before I'll let your steam drill beat me down
I'll hammer my fool self to death.
John Henry said to his shaker,
"Boy, you'd better pray,
If ever I miss this six foot of steel,
Tomorrow'll be your burying day."
John Henry told his captain,
"Looky yonder what do l see,
Your drill's done broke and your hole's done choke,
And you cain't drive steel like me.
John Henry was hammerin' on the mountain,
And his hammer was strikin' fire,
He drove so hard till he broke his poor heart,
An' he layed down his hammer and he died.
The man that invented the steam drill
Thought that he was mighty fine;
John Henry made his fourteen feet,
While the steam drill it made only nine.
John Henry had a little woman,
Her name was Polly Ann,
He hugged and kissed her just before he died,
Saying, "Polly, do the very best you can."