Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wreck of the Old '97 (Bonus)

-Song begins at 2:37. For Bess Hawes information, go to the bottom.
-BOB and Hector's channel. BOB and Hector do this same song.

Chords: C - F - / C - G(7) - / C - F - / C G C -

Lyrics from the site of the good old Blue Ridge Institute. I say "good old", but I just learned about them, actually. They're fabulous, though.

On one cloudless morning I stood on the mountain,
Just watching the smoke from below,
It was coming from a tall, slim smokestack
Way down on the Southern railroad.

It was 97, the fastest train
Ever ran the Southern line,
All the freight trains and passengers take the side for 97,
For she's bound to be at stations on time.

They gave him his orders at Monroe, Virginia,
Saying, "Stevie, you're way behind time.
This is not 38, but it's Old 97,
You must put her into Spencer on time."

He looked 'round and said to his black greasy fireman,
"Just shovel in a little more coal,
And when I cross that old White Oak Mountain
You can just watch Old 97 roll."

It's a mighty rough road from Lynchburg to Danville,
And the lie was a three-mile grade,
It was on that grade that he lost his air brakes,
And you see what a jump that she made.

He was going down the grade making 90 miles an hour,
When his whistle began to scream,
He was found in that wreck with his hand on the throttle,
He was scalded to death by the steam.

Did she ever pull in? No, she never pulled in,
And at 1:45 he was due,
For hours and hours has the switchman been waiting
For that fast mail that never pulled through.

Did she ever pull in? No, she never pulled in,
And that poor boy must be dead.
Oh, yonder he lays on the railroad track
With the cart wheels over his head.

97, she was the fastest train
That the South had ever seen,
But she run so fast on that Sunday morning
That the death score was numbered 14.

Now, ladies, you must take warning,
From this time now and on.
Never speak harsh words to your true loving husband.
He may leave you and never return.

Charlie on the MTA, to this same tune, was written by Bess Hawes and JACQUELINE STEINER.
Bess Hawes died a few months ago, on November 27, 2009. She was a musician, performer (I know her from the Almanac singers, but she did much more), guitar teacher and folklorist.
Obituary 1
Obituary 2

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