The Ballad of John Henry

from by The Society of Orpheus and Bacchus

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about

arr. David H. Bass '75
American Folk Song
Traditional Penultimate
solos: Nick Maas '14+1, Dylan Hosmer-Quint '18, Benson May '17, Khyber Shepperd '18, Sharif Youssef '14+1, Kwasi Enin '18

lyrics

[Maas]
When John Henry was a little baby
He was a-sittin' on his Daddy's knee

Well he picked up a hammer and a little piece of steel
and he said

[Shoe]
Hammer be the death of me, lord lord
Oh, hammer be the death of me

[Hosmer-Quint/May]
Well John Henry
He could hammer
He could whistle
and he could sing
And all the people they would come out,
early in the mornin'
just to hear John Henry's hammer ring lord lord,
I tell ya John Henry's hammer ring

[Shoe]
One day the captain said
to John Henry
I'm gonna bring me a steam drill round
I'm gonna bring me a steam drill right out on the job,
I'm gonna...

[Shepperd]
Well John Henry said to the captain lord,
a man ain't nothin but a man
But before I let your steam drill bring me down
I'm gonna die!
Lord lord, I'll die with my hammer in my hand!

[Shoe]
Now the man who invented the steam drill
Well he thought he was mighty fine
but for every fifteen that John Henry hammered in
you know the steam drill only drove in nine
the steam drill only drove in nine
John Henry drove into the mountain and his hammer was strikin' fire

Well he drove so...

[Youssef]
Hard! He broke his poor heart.

[Enin]
And then he laid down his hammer
and he died, lord lord.
He laid down his hammer and he died.

[Motet]
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died
And he died

[Maas]
Well, they took John Henry to the graveyard
And they buried him in the sand
Now ev'ry locomotive comes a roarin' by says

[Shoe]
There lies a steel drivin' man
lord lord
I tell ya there lies a steel drivin' man
Yeah they took John Henry to the graveyard
and they buried him in the sand
Now ev'ry locomotive comes a roarin' by says
there lies a steel drivin' man
(He was a steel drivin' man, he was a steel drivin' man!)

credits

from Now and For All Time, released October 27, 2015
Album Musical Director: Douglas Streat '16
Album Producer: Aaron Effron '15
Album Art: Max Pommier '14

Tracking: Noah Berg of Liquid 5th Productions and Douglas Streat '16
Editing: Ben Lieberman and Josh Heilbronner of Liquid 5th Productions
Mixing: by Carl Taylor of Liquid 5th Productions
Mastering: Eric Scholz

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about

The Society of Orpheus and Bacchus New Haven, Connecticut

Founded in 1938, the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus is the second longest-running a cappella group in the United States, after the Yale Whiffenpoofs. Initially, the group went without a name until they capitalized on a backhanded compliment received at a party—“These SOBs are good!”— invoking the talents of Orpheus, minstrel to Olympus, and the legacy of Bacchus, god of revelry, to form the SOBs. ... more

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