John Henry was about three days old Sittin' on his papa's knee. He picked up a hammer And a little piece of steel Said, "this hammer's gonna be The death of me Lord, Lord This hammer's gonna be the death of me" The captain said to John Henry "Gonna bring that steam drill 'round Gonna bring that steam drill Out on the job Gonna whop that steel on down Down, down Gonna whop that steel on down"
John Henry told his captain "A man ain't nothin' but a man But before I let your steam drill Beat me down I'd die with a hammer in my hand Lord, Lord I'd die with a hammer in my hand"
John Henry said to his shaker "Shaker, why don't you sing? I'm throwin' thirty pounds From my hips on down Just listen to that cold steel ring Lord, Lord Listen to that cold steel ring"
The man that invented the stream drill Thought he was mighty fine But John Henry he made fifteen feet; The steam drill only made nine Lord, Lord The steam drill only made nine
John Henry hammered in the mountain His hammer was striking fire But he worked so hard he broke his poor heart And he laid down his hammer and he died Lord, Lord He laid down his hammer and he died He laid down his hammer and he died Lord, Lord He laid down his hammer and he died
Well, every Monday morning When the bluebirds begin to sing You can hear John Henry a mile or more You can hear John Henry's hammer ring Lord, Lord You can hear John Henry's hammer ring