Swannanoa Tunnel

DESCRIPTION: "Asheville Junction, Swannanoa Tunnel, all caved in, baby, all caved in." About the life of a steel driver: "This old hammer Killed John Henry, Couldn't kill me." The singer hopes for relief from the hard work and a chance to see his woman.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (Cecil Sharp collection); +1913 (JAFL26)
KEYWORDS: railroading work separation death
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,SW)
REFERENCES (10 citations):
BrownII 280, "John Henry" (2 texts plus 5 fragments, 1 excerpt, and mention of 1 more, but the "H" text and "I" excerpt are this piece and most of the rest, except the "A" text, are "Take This Hammer")
BrownSchinhanIV 270, "John Henry" (7 excerpts, 7 tunes, of which "A," "A(1)," and perhaps "C" appear to be "John Henry"; "E," "G," and "J" appear to be "Take This Hammer," and "H" appears to be "Swannanoa Tunnel")
JonesLunsford, pp. 235-236, "Swannanoa Tunnel" (1 text, 1 tune)
Combs/Wilgus 256, p. 166, "The Yew-Pine Mountains" (1 text, which omits the "Swannanoa Tunnel" lyrics but is otherwise so similar I have to believe it the same. It may well be a fake; it was supplied by Carey Woofter, suspected or faking materials he gave to Combs and Cox)
Bronner-Eskin1 33, "Swannanoa Tunnel" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 91, "Swannanoa Town" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Warner-Eastern, pp. 52-53, "Asheville Junction, Swannanoa Tunnel" (1 text)
Botkin-SoFolklr, p. 749, "Swannanoa Tunnel" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 45, "Swannanoa Tunnel" (1 text)
DT, SWANNOA*

Roud #3602
RECORDINGS:
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "Swannanoa Tunnel" (on BLLunsford01) (on BLLunsford02)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Drivin' Steel" (theme, lyrics)
cf. "Take This Hammer" (floating lyrics)
cf. "If You Meet a Woman in the Morning" (form, lyrics)
NOTES: The connection between this song and "Take This Hammer" (Nine Pound Hammer) is very strong; there are so many intermediate versions that we can hardly draw a clear distinction. But the extreme versions are sufficiently different that I have listed them
separately. - RBW
Sharp's versions mention neither the tunnel nor a cave-in, but I put them here for simplicity's sake, using the mention of Swannanoa as the dividing line from "Take This Hammer." You should check out that entry too, though. - PJS
Last updated in version 4.2
File: CW166

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