“The Bullhead Boat”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1986 (recording, Art Thieme)
Keywords: warning death canal ship work worker
Found in: US

Description

Singer, a mule-driver, gets work steering a canal boat. One pilot is killed by a low bridge. The singer spies a low bridge, but fails to warn the (drunken) captain, as he's busy tumbling end over end. He warns listeners never to drive a bullhead boat.

Long description

Singer, a mule-driver, gets work steering a canal boat; it's miserable work, and the captain drinks. One pilot is killed by a low bridge. One day the singer spies a low bridge coming, but fails to warn the (drunken) captain, as he's busy tumbling end over end. He warns listeners never to drive a bullhead boat, but rather spend their time on a line barge; "The bridge you won't be hatin'/And you'll live till Judgement Day"

Notes

According to Art Thieme, a bullhead boat was an unusually tall canal boat. Since most canal boats on America's early waterways were built low (e.g. the Erie Canal carried mostly barges), bridges over the canal were often quite low. This meant that serving on a bullhead boat could be quite dangerous. - RBW

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. DT, BULLHEAD
  2. BI, RcTBulBo