“Roll On, Boys”


"Roll on, boys, You make your time; I am so broke down, I can't make mine." "I once was young, As you must see; But age has got The best of me." "Someday you'll think Of me I know When you are old And cannot go." Other verses of hard work and old age


This song is quite a conundrum. It seems clearly related to the "Roll On, Buddy" versions of "Take This Hammer," but it never uses either the words "Roll on, buddy" or "take this hammer," and much of the song is about the worker failing because of age.

Plus we know that the informant, John Daniel Vass, was capable of rewriting a song; Shellans has several instances of items Vass reworked from traditional materials. Shellans does not say that that happened here, but it seems the best explanation. On that basis, I'm classifying this very tentatively as its own song, but one that clearly should be linked with the extended "Take This Hammer" family. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Shellans, p. 47, "Roll On, Boys" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #7329
  3. BI, Shell047


Author: adapted by John Daniel Vass?
Earliest date: 1960 (collected by Shellans from John Daniel Vass)
Found in: US(SE)