Can'cha Line 'Em

DESCRIPTION: Work song/shout, with chorus, "Ho, boys, can'cha line em? (x3) See Eloise go linin' track." Many of verses are on religious themes ("If I could I surely would Stand on the rock where Moses stood"; "Mary, Marthy, Luke, and John, all... dead and gone")
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1933 (recording, Allen Prothero)
KEYWORDS: railroading work religious worksong
FOUND IN: US(Ap,So)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Lomax-FSUSA 78, "Can'cha Line 'Em" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 14-17, "Tie-Shuffling Chant" (1 text with extra verses, 1 tune)
Cohen-LSRail, p. 646, "Track Linin'" (1 text)
Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 446, "Track Lining Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Courlander-NFM, p. 97, (no title, but compare "The Captain Can't Read" on the previous page) (1 text)
Darling-NAS, p. 328, "Jack the Rabbit" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Moses Asch and Alan Lomax, Editors, _The Leadbelly Songbook_, Oak, 1962, p. 86, 'Can't You LIne 'Em" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #10070
RECORDINGS:
Henry Hankins, "Lining Track" (AFS 2946 A1, 1939; on LC61)
Lead Belly, "Linin' Track" (on ClassRR)
Allen Prothero, "Track-Lining Song" (AFS 179 A1; on LC8)
T. C. I. Section Crew, "Track Linin'" (Paramount 12478, 1927)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" (floating verses)
cf. "Track Lining" (subject)
NOTES: Since this is one of those wonderful songs that is "adapted and arranged" (usual translation: "completely fouled up") by the Lomaxes, I can't tell if it comes from the same roots as "Can't You Line It?" There are almost no similarities beyond the titles, but that doesn't mean much. - RBW
Looking at the lyrics of the Prothero field recording, they seem to have almost nothing in common with, "Can't You Line It?" as summarized in the latter's description. I'd guess the songs are, at best, distantly related. - PJS
The Darling "Jack the Rabbit" text looks rather different (indeed, the feeling is almost closer to "Grizzely Bear") -- but it has a line similar to this one, so I'm sticking it here for now, more in desperation than anything else.
Cohen's "Track Linin'" song also has the "Jack the rabbit" line, so it files here on hte same basis.
According to Cohen, this is one of only two railroad worksongs released on a commercial 78 (the other being "Section Gang Song"). He thinks they may be the earliest worksong recordings of any sort. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
File: LxU078

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.