Hell-Bound Train, The

DESCRIPTION: The drunk passes out and dreams of the hell-bound train. The Devil is the engineer. When he announces that Hell is the next stop, the riders beg for mercy; the Devil replies with a list of tortures they face. The drunkard awakens and reforms
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1910 (Railroad Men's Magazine, according to Cohen)
KEYWORDS: train Devil Hell drink
FOUND IN: US(MW,So) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (14 citations):
Cohen-LongSteelRail, pp. 638-644, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text plus extensive excerpts and aportion of "Ride on the Black Valley Railroad" and a broadside print of "Railroad to Hell"; 1 tune)
Randolph 599, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 210, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text, 1 tune, the latter allegedly by Lomax himself)
Fife/Fife-CowboyAndWesternSongs 125, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ohrlin-HellBoundTrain 15, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thorp/Logsdon-SongsOfTheCowboys, pp. 79-81, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text)
Beck-SongsOfTheMichiganLumberjacks 94, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text)
Beck-LoreOfTheLumberCamps 91, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text)
Ives-DriveDullCareAway-PrinceEdwardIsland, pp. 163-164,246, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Finger-FrontierBallads, pp. 110-113, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Shay-BarroomBallads/PiousFriendsDrunkenCompanions, pp. 168-169, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, p. 263, "The Hell Bound Train" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Martin Gardner, editor, _Famous Poems from Bygone Days_, Dover, 1995, pp. 7-8, "The Hell-Bound Train" (1 text)

Roud #5103
Frank Hutchison, "Hell Bound Train" (OKeh 45452, 1928) (Velvet Tone 2366-V, 1931)
Sunset Jubilee Singers, "The Hellbound Train" (Hub 3004, n.d.) [Note: I'm not certain this is the same song, but I'm playing the odds]
Joseph Walsh, "The Hell-Bound Train" (on MREIves01)

NOTES [103 words]: Lomax editions suggest "J. W. Pruitt(e)" as the author of this piece. One of Randolph's sources mentions a "Tom Gray." I wouldn't bet much on either attribution. - RBW
In the Beck version, Tom Gray is the protagonist, rather than the author (the song is in third person). - PJS
Cohen notes a strong similarity in concept to "Ride on the Black Valley Railroad," credited to I. N. Tarbox and printed in 1876. For more on this, one should see Cohen.
This song apparently inspired a short story by Robert Bloch, also entitled "The Hell-Bound Train." It won a Hugo award as the best science fiction short story of 1958. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.0
File: R599

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