“Jerry, Go and Ile that Car”


Larry Sullivan has spent forty years maintaining the railroads; he is proud of the state of the tracks and of never having had a wreck. As he lies dying, he asks to be buried by the tracks. His last words are, "Jerry, go and ile that car."


Cohen's detailed examination of this song notes the earliest publication, by Loomis in 1904, which has been repeatedly reprinted, often without acknowledgment (e.g. by Lomax in _Cowboy Songs_). Loomis concluded, after much research, that the song was written in 1881 by "Riley the Bum," who could not otherwise be identified.

Despite the fact that very many of the texts now in circulation derive from Loomis, the handful of independent texts are just that -- independent, often with very different "feel." The description above is basically of the Loomis version.

Interestingly, the name Larry (O')Sullivan seems to be nearly constant, even as the song shifts around him. - RBW


  • Warde H. Ford, "Jerry, will you ile that car" [fragment] (AFS 4215 B2, 1939; on LC61, in AMMEM/Cowell)
  • Harry "Mac" McClintock, "Jerry, Go Ile That Car" (Victor 21521, 1928; on RRinFS) (on GrowOn3) [the may be a pirate reissue of the Victor recording for all I know, but since McClintock was recording around the time this LP was issued, I class it separately. - PJS]
  • Art Thieme, "Jerry, Go & Oil That Car" (on Thieme06)


  1. Laws H30, "Jerry, Go and Ile that Car"
  2. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 543-546, "Jerry, Go Ile That Car" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Dean, pp. 26-27, "Jerry, Go Oil the Car" (1 text)
  4. Belden, pp. 445-446, "The Old Section Boss" (1 text, very defective)
  5. Sandburg, pp. 360-361, "Jerry, Go an' Ile That Car" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Lomax-FSNA 216, "Jerry, Go and Ile that Car" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 441, "Jerry, Go and Ile That Car" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. DT 691, JERRYILE
  9. Roud #2192
  10. BI, LH30


Author: (credited by Loomis to "Riley the Bum")
Earliest date: 1904 (article by Charles F. Loomis with Arthur G. Wells)
Keywords: train death work
Found in: US(MW,So,SW)