“Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel”


About the difficulties of getting to heaven. Chorus: "(So) take off your overcoats and roll up your sleeves; Jordan am a hard road to travel (x2) I believe." The original contains assorted political references to the 1850s.


Napoleon III (1808-1873), the son of Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Louis, was chosen President of France in 1848, then in 1852 (the same year Franklin Pierce was elected President) upgraded himself to Emperor.

The "fish question" is slightly less clear; the settlement which ended the War of 1812 and the diplomacy which followed did not provide American fishermen with all the rights they wanted in Canadian waters -- but this was a perennial problem which was not solved until 1910. In addition, there were some disputes over the Columbia River (which in the complex logic of diplomacy gave the U.S. its claim to Oregon), and hence presumably its salmon. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1842 - Webster-Ashburton Treaty settles the boundary between Britain (Canada) and the states of Massachussets and Maine
  • 1846 - Oregon Treaty settles the boundary dispute between the U.S. and Britain (Canada). Minor uncertainties were settled by arbitration in 1872.
  • 1852-1870 - Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) Emperor of France
  • 1853-1857 - Presidency of Franklin Pierce

Same tune

  • Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel (File: RcRIHRTT)
  • Jordan Is a Hard Road to Travel (II) (File: CSW188)
  • Rail-road Song (by Jacob P. Weaver) (Cohen-LSRail, p. 43)

Cross references

  • cf. "Richmond Is a Hard Road to Travel"
  • cf. "Jordan is a Hard Road To Travel (II)" (words, music)
  • cf. "Ain't No Bugs on Me" (words)
  • cf. "Pull Off Your Old Coat" (lyrics)


  • Harry C. Browne, "Jordan Am A Hard Road to Travel" (Columbia A-2255, 1917; rec. 1916)
  • Harry "Mac" McClintock, "Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel" (on McClintock01) (on McClintock02)
  • Riley Puckett, "On the Other Side of Jordan" (Columbia 15374-D, 1929)


  1. Randolph 305, "The Other Side of Jordan" (1 text)
  3. Roud #2103
  4. BI, R305


Author: Music: Daniel D. Emmett/Words: T. F. Briggs?
Earliest date: 1853 (sheet music)
Found in: US(So)