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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Folksongs of America

Robert Winslow Gordon Collection, 1922-1932
Annotations and Texts (With links to the sound recordings)

Old Ninety Seven, Sung by Fred Lewey in Concord, N.C., October 15, 1925

One bright Sunday evening I stood on a mountain
Just watching the smoke from below.
It was springing from a long slender smokestack
Way down on the southern road.

It was Ninety Seven, the fastest train
That the south has ever seen;
But she run too fast on that fatal Sunday evening,
And the death list numbered fourteen

Chorus:Did she ever pull in? No she never pulled in,
Though at one forty-five she was due;
For hours and hours has the switchman been watching
For the fast mail that never came through.

The engineer was a fast brave driver
On that fatal Sunday eve,
And his fireman leaned far out at Lynchburg
Waiting for the signal to leave.

When he got aboard, well, he threw back his throttle
And although his air was bad
People all said when he passed Franklin Junction
That you couldn’t see the men in the cab.

Did he ever pull in? No he never pulled in,
Though at one forty-five he was due
For hours and hours has the switchman been watching
For the fast mail that never came through

There’s a mighty bad road from Lynchburg to Danville,
And although he knew this well
He said he’d pull his train on time into Spencer
Or he’d jerk it right square into hell.

When he hit the grade from Lima to Danville
His whistle began to scream;
He was found when she wrecked with his hand onthe throttle
Where he’d scalded to death from the steam.

Did he ever pull in? No he never pulled in,
Though at one forty-five he was due;
For hours and hours has the switchman been watching
For the fast mail that never came through
http://www.loc.gov/folklife/Gordon/AnnotationsandTexts.html#therecordings

/Z