The Songs He Sang
Railroad Bill: Lyrics
As performed by Cisco Houston
Well, Railroad Bill ol' Railroad Bill He never worked and he never will I'm gonna ride ol Railroad Bill Well ol' Railroad Bill he was a mighty mean man He shot the midnight lantern out of the brakeman's hand I'm gonna ride ol' Railroad Bill I'm going up on a mountain, I'm going out west 38 special sitting out of my vest I'm gonna ride ol' Railroad Bill I'll buy me pistol just as long as my arm kill everybody ever done me harm I'm gonna ride ol' Railroad Bill Well Railroad Bill ol' Railroad Bill He never worked Lord he never will I'm gonna ride ol' Railroad Bill I got a 38 special on a 45 frame How in the world can I miss him when I got dead aim I'm gonna ride ol' Railroad Bill Well Railroad Bill well he took my wife Said if I didn't like it he would take my life I'm gonna ride ol' Railroad Bill Well, honey, honey do you think I'm a fool I wouldn't quit you while the weather is cool I'm gonna ride ol' Railroad Bill
Notes from the Folk Song & Minstrelsy Set
Railroad Bill is the outlaw hero of the turpentine workers of the Alabama Piney Woods. He was a "mighty mean man," a thief, wife stealer and killer who downed two sheriffs and a deputy. His nickname derives from the fact that he broke into boxcars and supported himself by selling their contents at low prices to his neighbors. He evaded capture for many years, but was finally cornered and shot in 1896. Carl Sandburg noted that the verses of this ballad "couple onto each other like fast mail coaches. Singers hesitate nowhere and stride through this with the clip of a non-stop train."
The set notes are bad, the insert ones are worse. More of the gibberish worrying about whether a white man or black man wrote this. Who cares? I know the unread Ph.D. industry rides on such topics, and the affirmative action nitwits love it, but for the rest of us, here's Cisco singing a great song in a great performance, without a trace of social justice, just raw justice for a bad, bad man, not forced to steal for or by anything!