When I was a kid we had an album called Songs of the Railroad. It’s available as an MP3 download on Amazon. It is amazing that record companies used to churn out product after product like this, and presumably make a profit with them. Who the heck were the Merrill Jay Singers? But they did a fine job. Pick a popular song or a folk song from before 1965, and go on YouTube – you will almost always find multiple versions.
Songs like this mean a lot to me, and I want to pass down as many of them as I can to my child.
Here are a couple of the songs from that album, done by other artists.
The Tarrier Song
And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, “What for?” came this reply
“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.”
Paddy on the Railway
The version I was familiar with had the lyrics:
In eighteen hundred and forty three, ’twas then I met sweet Biddy McGee
An elegant wife she’s been to me, while workin’ on the railway.
In eighteen hundred and forty seven, sweet Biddy McGee she went to heaven
She left one child, she left eleven to work upon the railway.
I notice sometimes on YouTube that a commenter on a song I was looking for will say something like “I’m only 15 and I love this music!” The commenter then says that kids his own age all listen to Justin Bieber, whom he despises. I see this exact comment often enough that I wonder if it’s fake, but I hope there are actually 15-year-olds discovering the older music. Surely they are starved for something better than what they’re being served?
Laying rails across America. What was it all for?