Of all the songs collected in Mules and Men the mythic song John Henry is by far the best known. The song continues to be sung by folksong performers and in schools all over America. As legend has it John Henry was a railroad man who fought onslaught of technology by telling his "captain" that before "that steam drill shall beat me down I'll die with a hammer in my hand."(A copy of the early text) This song like the all other products of folk culture contained many different variations and versions. The dress is sometimes blue sometimes red. The version here was recorded on a folksongs collecting expedition in 1936.

A recording of the song from the Library of Congress.

Folksong Index