The Songs He Sang
Clickety Clack: Lyrics
As performed by Mary Myrtle Madsen (nee Johnson)
Clickety-clack ka-lunk! ka-lunk! The train is coming, ka-chunk ka-chunk Clickety-clack a mile away It hasn't a second of time to stay It sings a noisy rickety song, A rickety-rackety-rockety song "Get off the track! Get out of the way! Go 'long!" Down the valley and through the hills It rolls past orchards and farms and mills Clickety-clack across the lake A mile a minute it has to make It sings a noisy rickety song A rickety-rackety-rockety song "Get off the track! Get out of the way! Go 'long!" Over the bridge and past the lake A mile a minute it has to make The cinders fall in a fiery rain A tunnel is waiting to swallow the train It sings a noisy rickety song A rickety-rackety-rockety song "Get off the track! Get out of the way! Go 'long!" Clickety-clack ka-lunk! ka-lunk! The train is coming, ka-chunk ka-chunk Clickety-clack a mile away It hasn't a second of time to stay It sings a noisy rickety song A rickety-rackety-rockety song "Get off the track! Get out of the way! Go 'long!"
Here's the kind of note we love to get as we document this nearly forgotten corner of Americana. Thanks Meryle!
Hello! I Googled for a song my grandmother used to sing to me (I was born in 1943; she died in 1950) just in case the lyrics might be out there. Lo and behold, I found Cisco Houston's version here, and they were similar enough that I was able to pull in the loose ends from my memory and reconstruct it as I remembered her singing it. Thought you might enjoy seeing her version -- if you hadn't posted Cisco's, I probably would be left with a bunch of partial verses from my memory.
My grandmother, Mary Myrtle Madsen (nee Johnson) was born in Iowa and moved to Oregon in the late 1920s. Her grandparents emigrated from England. Before she married, she taught school (all grades) in a sod schoolhouse in Nebraska. I'm guessing she learned many of the songs she sang for me in songbooks available for schoolteachers back in the early 20th century, but there's no one left to ask. She also sang me an unusual version of "The Fox" and a song I later found to be a partial translation of a common French children's song, which she called "The Maiden and the Cat," or "There Was a Little Maiden." And nowhere else have I heard anyone sing, "Inky dinky spider crawled up the water spout...." as she sang it. Nowadays, I hear it as Itsy Bitsy or Eensy Weensy, but I really like "Inky dinky" because it describes a little (dinky) black (inky) arachnid, instead of just a little-little spider.
(Ms.) Meryle Korn
And also as performed by Emma Margaret Moore Neslund
Born in 1907 near Buhl, Idaho, died in 2003 in San Bernardino, California
Clickety clack a-long, a-long The train is coming a-chonk, a-chonk Clickety clack a mile away It hasn't a second of time to stay It sings a noisy rackety song A rickety-rockety-rackety song "Get off the track, it isn't where you belong!" Over the bridge across the lake A mile a minute it has to make A fiery snake with flaming eyes It wriggles and wriggles along the ties It sings a noisy rackety song A rickety-rockety-rackety song "Good-bye, good-bye, tomorrow will come again!"
Another note we were glad to get from Douglas Neslund. Thanks to you too! Glad to be read.
When I was a little kid in the middle to late 1940s, my mom used to sing the following song to me, and I am glad to find it on the internet ONLY under Cisco Houston's webpage kindly researched by you. My mother was not a musician, and I have no idea where she learned the song, which she sang to me without score or lyrics. I do not specifically remember her singing these words:
The cinders fall in fiery range The tunnel is waiting to swallow the train
but it is possible that she worked them into another verse - I seem to have a faint memory about the train being swallowed by the tunnel. I am also not sure about the words "rickety-rockety-rackety" for which I think she had other words, or maybe just changed it to "rickety-rackety-rockety" - cannot remember exactly.
And Another! From Stella McCall Roberts
Clearly a popular song! I wonder if Cisco learned it from his mom!
THANK YOU SO MUCH for your web site. My grandmother (Stella McCall Roberts) sang this song to her kids and grandkids! She passed away in 2009 at 94, and we had been talking about old memories when this song came up. We thought my grandmother learned it at school, but are not sure. Her version is much like the other lady's. It has the phrase:
a terrible snake with flaming eyes that wiggles and jiggles along the ties
We are from North Carolina and my g-mom was raised in the mountains near Asheville. How fun that other folks' grandmas so far away were singing the same song!! We thought it was ours alone!! Ha! Ha! Thanks again .....
2010 Brings a Hawkeye Version
Charles Hardy sends the following:
"I am 78 years old and live in Clarksville, Iowa. [Trains? Clarksville? Where have I heard this before?] My Grandmother, Carma Martin, who was born in 1888, sang this song to me when I was small, and also sang it to my children while rocking them to sleep, when baby-sitting for us. I could only remember bits and pieces of the lyrics, and I asked my son, who is now 55, if he could remember them. He could only remember the part about the fiery eye, which is the only part I could remember, as it always scared me when she sang it. I have spent years looking for them. My grandmother passed away in 1965. Cisco Houston's lyrics are very similar to my grandmother's, except her version had the lines:
Clickety-clack ka-lunk ka-lunk, A train is coming a-chunk a-chunk, It wiggles and slithers along the ties, A flaming snake with a fiery eye.
Thank you for posting the words; now I can sing them to my great-grandchildren."
Charles, you are very, very welcome. And thanks for writing and sharing this lovely lyrics.
To see Cisco's versions, clickety-clack over Here