RAILROAD BLUES

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
RAILROAD BLUES
Noah Lewis was an American jug band musician, generally known for playing the
harmonica with the Cannon Jug Stompers. Lewis was raised in the vicinity of Ripley,
Tennessee. He was noted for being able to blow two harmonicas at once–through his
mouth and his nose. He played in local string bands and brass bands, and began playing
in the Ripley and Memphis areas with Gus Cannon. When jug bands became popular in
the mid-1920s, he joined Cannon’s Jug Stompers and recorded for Victor Records in
January 1928. The songs from that session included “Minglewood Blues”, “Springdale
Blues”, and “Madison Rag”. He died in poverty of gangrene brought on by frostbite in
Ripley, Tennessee, in 1961. After his death, several of his songs become part of the
repertoire of the Grateful Dead, including “New, New Minglewood Blues”, “Viola Lee
Blues”, and “Big Railroad Blues”.
Well my mama told me, my papa told me too,
Now my mama told me, papa told me too,
Well I shouldn’t be here tryin’ to sing these railroad blues.
Wish I had a’listened to what my mama said,
Wish I had a’listened to what my mama said,
Well I wouldn’t be here tryin’ to sleep in this cold iron bed.
Well I went to the depot, I never got there on time,
Went down to the depot, never got there on time.
Well my train done left, she’s a rollin’ down the line.
Mister jailer go away now, don’t tell me no lies,
Mister jailer go away, don’t tell me no lies,
When the train’s going down, she’s rollin’ down the line.
Well my mama told me, my papa told me too,
Now my mama told me, papa told me too,
Well I shouldn’t be here tryin’ to sing these railroad blues.