IVE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

IVE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD

“I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” is an American folk song. The first published
version appeared as “Levee Song” in Carmina Princetonia, a book of Princeton
University songs published in 1894. The earliest known recording is by the Sandhills
Sixteen, released by Victor Records in 1927. The “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah”
section is actually an older song that has been absorbed by “I’ve Been Working on the
Railroad”. It was published as “Old Joe, or “Somebody in the House with Dinah” in
London in the 1830s or ’40s, with music credited to J.H. Cave.”Dinah” was a generic
name for an enslaved African woman. The melody for this section of the song may have
been adapted from Good Night Ladies“, written (as “Farewell Ladies”) in 1847 by E. P.
Christy.
According to the liner notes to Pete Seeger‘s Children’s Concert at Town Hall (1963), the
“Dinah won’t you blow” section is a more modern addition, contributed to the song by
“some college students”.
I’ve been working on the railroad
All the live-long day.
I’ve been working on the railroad
Just to pass the time away.
Don’t you hear the whistle blowing,
Rise up so early in the morn;
Don’t you hear the captain shouting,
“Dinah, blow your horn!”
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow your horn?
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow your horn?
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
Someone’s in the kitchen I know
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
Strummin’ on the old banjo!
Singin’ fi, fie, fiddly-i-o
Fi, fie, fiddly-i-o-o-o-o
Fi, fie, fiddly-i-o
Strummin’ on the old banjo