Express Office, The (He Is Coming to Us Dead)

DESCRIPTION: An old man enters the express office and enquires after his boy. Told that this is not the train depot, the man points out "He's coming in a casket, sir, He's coming to us dead." His mother had expected just that result "when he joined the boys in blue."
AUTHOR: Gussie L. Davis (1863-1899)
EARLIEST DATE: 1899 (copyright)
KEYWORDS: soldier death burial corpse train family
FOUND IN: US(So) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Cohen-LongSteelRail, pp. 300-303, "He's Coming to Us Dead" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 696, "The Express Office" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 458-460, "The Express Office" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 696A)
Abrahams/Riddle-ASingerAndHerSongs, pp. 18-20, "The Boys in Blue" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-1ed, pp. 275-277, "The Boys in Blue" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #3513
[G. B.] Grayson & [Henry] Whitter, "He Is Coming To Us Dead" (Victor 21139, 1927; on GraysonWhitter01); (Gennett, unissued, 1927)
Wade Mainer, "He Is Coming To Us Dead" (King 585)
New Lost City Ramblers, "He Is Coming To Us Dead" (on NLCR14, ClassRR)
Francis O'Brien, "The Boys in Blue" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Molly O'Day, "A Hero's Death" (Columbia 20441, 1948)

The Boy in Blue
The Boys in Blue
NOTES [70 words]: Cohen notes that the tune sung by G. B. Grayson (which is now more or less the standard) is not the same as the original Davis tune, with a 32-bar verse and a 16-bar chorus, compared to Grayson's 8-bar tune with no chorus. He speculates that Davis may simply have been rewriting an existing piece, perhaps from the Civil War.
For brief background on composer Gussie L. Davis, see the notes to "The Baggage Coach Ahead." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
File: R696

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