Waiting For a Train (II)
DESCRIPTION: Singer waits to hop a train. A brakeman tells him that if he has money "I'll see that you don't walk," then puts him off the train in Texas. "My pocketbook is empty/And my heart is filled with pain/I'm a thousand miles away from home/Waiting for a train"
AUTHOR: Jimmie Rodgers? (see note)
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (recording, Jimmie Rodgers)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer, a hobo, is out in the rain waiting for a train to hop. A brakeman tells him that if he has money "I'll see that you don't walk." He has no money; the brakeman slams the boxcar door, then puts him off the train in Texas. "My pocketbook is empty/And my heart is filled with pain/I'm a thousand miles away from home/Waiting for a train"
KEYWORDS: loneliness poverty rejection rambling train travel hobo
FOUND IN: US
Gene Autry, "Waiting for a Train" (Vocalion 7057-V, n.d./Diva 6031-G, c. 1930/Clarion 5155-C, n.d.; rec. 1929)
Mississippi John Hurt, "Waiting For a Train" (on MJHurt04)
Riley Puckett, "Waiting for a Train" (Columbia 15408-D, 1929)
Bud Reed, "Waiting for a Train" (on Reeds1)
Hoke Rice, "Waiting for a Train" (Champion 15767/QRS 9012, 1929)
Jimmie Rodgers, "Waiting for a Train" (Victor V-40014, 1929)
Ed (Jake) West, "Waiting for a Train" (Broadway 8109, c. 1931)
Harry Wilson, "Waiting for the Train" (Perfect 12556, 1930)
cf. "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum)" (subject, a few lyrics)
Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me (recorded by Mississippi John Hurt)
NOTES [154 words]: This composed song seems to be moving into oral tradition, both Anglo- and Afro-American (blues singer Furry Lewis used to perform it); Mississippi John Hurt used its melody for "Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me." - PJS
Larry Saidman points out to me,
"I was advised the following by Jon Bartlett,
"According to the Gordon collection in the Library of Congress, this song preceded the version credited to Jimmie Rogers. (Gordon 1720). It was called The Hobo Song, with most of the same verses (slight variations) but with some additions. It was apparently picked up from Terrell McKay in 1926. It ends up with the protagonist losing a leg, and the last line is 'to live I have to beg/'
"It starts out with 'All along the water tank, waiting for that train.'
"It was apparently used as a begging song."
I have not yet verified that the Gordon song indeed meets the Ballad Index criteria for "same-ness," but kinship is likely. - RBW
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