Children love to hear the same story again and again. Once I asked my son why he wanted to hear Hats For Sale again (for the nth time in a row!!!). He responded simply: “Because it’s a good story”. So here’s John Henry, a song I love to play because, well…because it’s a good story and I love to play it.
The story, of course, tells of this giant, Afro-American workingman, a steel-drivin’ man, who challenged the power of the machine, the steam drill. And who died with a hammer in his hand. A mythologically-large folk-hero, John Henry was apparently a real guy, who, according to some accounts, died in West Virginia in 1871 trying to dig through a mountain. His last words were: “Gimme a cool drink of water before I die”.
The harmonica riff is copied from Sonny Terry, one of my personal heroes.