“I Don't Like No Railroad Man”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1913 (Brown)
Keywords: railroading nonballad floatingverses discrimination Black(s)
Found in: US(Ap,SE)

Description

"I don't like no railroad man, Railroad man he'll kill you if he can, I don't like no railroad man." "I don't like no railroad boss, Railroad boss got a head like a hoss...." "I don't like no railroad fool, Railroad fool got a head like a mule...."

Notes

The similarity in lyrics between the Brown and Sandburg versions clearly make them the same, though Brown's is a clear reminiscence of the bitter era in the American South after the Civil War, when Jim Crow laws made life miserable for Blacks. The Brown lyrics are much more explicit:

Don't like a rich white man nohow (x2),

Head like a hoss, and he tries to be de boss,

An' I don't like a rich white man nohow.

Don't like a poor white man nohow (x2),

Head like a mule, an' he tries to act a fool....

An' I don't like a poor white man nohow.

The resulting texts, though almost entirely the same in form, have completely different feelings. I have to suspect Sandburg's text is a cleaned up version -- but it too is seemingly early, and it was indexed first, so I retain its title. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Sandburg, p. 326, "I Don't Like No Railroad Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 481, "Don't Like a Rich White Man Nohow" (1 short text)
  3. Roud #11802 and 11865
  4. BI, San326