Mudcat Café message #1366916 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76910   Message #1366916
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
29-Dec-04 - 02:52 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
Subject: Lyr Add: THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN (trad Nova Scotia)
This version came from Nova Scotia.

(Nova Scotia)

Tom Gray lay down on the barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
He fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on the Hell-Bound Train.

The engine with blood was red and damp
And dismally lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp for fuel was shoveling bones,
And the furnace roared with a thousand groans.

The boiler was filled with lager beer,
And the Devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers made such a motley crew-
Church member, atheist, gentile and Jew.

Rich men in broadcloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies and withered hags;
Black men, red men, yellow and white
Chained together- a horrible sight.

Faster and faster the engine flew,
Wilder and wilder the country grew;
Louder and louder the thunder crashed,
Brighter and brighter the lightning flashed.

And all the passengers shrieked with pain
And begged the Devil to stop the train;
But he capered about and danced with glee
And laughed and joked at their misery.

My faithful friends you have done my work,
And the devil can never a payday shirk;
You have bullied the weak and robbed the poor,
And the hungry brother you've turned from your door.

You have gathered up gold with a canker rust
And given full vent to your hellish lusts;
You have drank and rioted and murdered and lied
And mocked at God in your hellish pride.

You have paid full fare, so I carry you through,
For it's only right that you get your due;
For every labourer is worth his hire,
So I'll land you safe in my lake of fire.

Where my fiery imps will torment you forever,
And all in vain you sigh for your Saviour.
When Tom awoke with an awful cry,
His clothes soaked wet and his hair standing high.

And he prayed as he never prayed before
To be saved from Hell and the devil's power,
And his crying and praying was not in vain,
For he nevermore rode on the Hell-Bound Train.

"...learned from a fella by the name of Fred Kennedy over in Nova Scotia" in a logging camp.

Printed with music, which differs from that printed by Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, no. 599, vol. 4, pp. 23-24. Edward D. (Sandy) Ives, 1999, "Drive Dull Care Away, Folksongs from Prince Edward Island," pp. 163-164.
Although the first collections of this song were in the West and Ozarks, it may have been published in a throw-away songbook and spread first through the mill towns and lumber camps of the northeast.
Two versions are in the DT (from Lomax and Randolph). It has been attributed to a sky pilot named Pruitte (Lomax) and to a Tom Gray (Randolph), but these are questionable. According to Randolph, it appeared in W. H. Fawcett's "Smoke-House Poetry" (not seen), date unknown. A couple of singers mentioned hearing it in the late 1890s.