The Ballad of Casey Jones

(Wallace Saunders)

Come, all you Rounders, if you want to hear
The story told of a brave engineer,
Casey Jones was the Rounder’s name
A high right-wheeler of mighty fame.
Of mighty fame, of mighty fame
A high right-wheeler of mighty fame.

Casey pulled into the Memphis yard
Fed up, beat down, and dog tired,
Another driver had called in sick
Asking Casey to do a double trick.
Casey smiled, said, “I’m feelin’ fine
Gonna ride that train to the end of the line.
There’s ridges and bridges, and hills to climb
Got a head of steam and ahead of time.
Ahead of time, ahead of time,
Got a head of steam and ahead of time.”

Caller called Casey, half-past four.
He kissed his wife at the station door
Climbed into the cab, orders in his hand
“Could be my trip to the Promised Land.”
Through South Memphis on the fly
The fireman say, “You got a white eye.”
The switchmen knew by the engine’s moan
The man at the throttle was Casey Jones,
Was Casey Jones, was Casey Jones,
The man at the throttle was Casey Jones.
The engine rocked, the drivers rolled
Fireman hollered, “Save my soul!”
“I’m gonna roll her ‘til she leaves the rails
I’m behind time with the Southern mail.”

Been raining hard for weeks and weeks,
Railroad track like the bed of a creek,
Rated down to a thirty-mile gait,
The Southern mail two hours late.
Two hours late, two hours late,
The Southern mail was two hours late.
Fireman say, “You running too fast!
You ran the last three lights we passed.”
Casey say, “We’ll make it through
She’s steaming better than I ever knew.”
Casey say, “Don’t you fret
Keep feeding the fire; don’t give up yet
Run her ‘til she leaves the rail
To be on time with the Southern mail.                                                                                                                                                                                         The Southern Mail, the Southern mail,
To be on time with the Southern mail.

Checked his water, his water was low,
Looked at his watch, his watch was slow.
“Put on more water, put on more coal
Put your head out the window see my drivers roll!
See my drivers roll, see my drivers roll,
Put your head out the window see my drivers roll.”
People said Casey couldn’t run
But I can tell you what Casey done;
Left Memphis, quarter ‘til nine
Vaughn, Mississippi, right on time
Got within a mile of the place                                                                                                                                                                                                            A big headlight stared him in the face;
Shout to the fireman, “Jump for your life!
Give my love to my children, say goodbye to my wife.”
Casey said, just before he died
“There’s a lot more railroads that I’d like to ride;”
He said the good Lord whispered, “It’ll never be,
The Illinois Central be the death of me!”
Headaches and heartaches and all kinds of pain
Ain’t no different from a railroad train
You can take your stories, noble and grand
All just a part of a railroad man.

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