To Work Upon the Railroad

from by The Lost Forty

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about

Gordon’s short recording of Michael Dean singing one verse of this railroad work song is the only document we have of Dean’s unique version since it does not appear in The Flying Cloud. Dean was still actively learning songs late in life so perhaps it was a new acquisition learned since publishing his book two years before. We borrowed additional verses from Joanna Colcord’s Songs of American Sailormen and Alan Lomax’s Folksong U.S.A.

lyrics

In eighteen hundred and sixty one,
The Yankee war had just begun,
I put my corduroy breeches on,
To work upon the railroad.

In eighteen hundred and sixty two
Those corduroy breeches they were new,
I had my pick of a navvy crew,
To work upon the railroad.

In eighteen hundred and sixty three,
We sailed away across the sea,
We sailed away to Americay,
To work upon the railroad.

In eighteen hundred and sixty four,
We landed on Columbia’s Shore,
Bad luck to the ship that brought me o’er,
To work upon the railroad.

It’s “Pat do this” and “Pat do that,”
Without a stocking or cravat,
Nothing more than an old straw hat,
When Pat works on the railroad.

We left Ireland to come here,
And spend our latter days in cheer,
Our bosses they did drink strong beer,
And Pat worked on the railroad.

credits

from The Lonesome Hours of Winter, released November 23, 2018
Brian: vocals, bouzouki
Randy: guitar

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The Lost Forty Saint Paul, Minnesota

Brian Miller and Randy Gosa craft intricate arrangements of rare old songs entwined with the history of the Great Lakes region. Their sources and their approach celebrate two centuries of Irish musical influence on the under-explored folk song traditions of the north woods. ... more

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