Saturday, July 14, 2012

I've Been Workin' On The Railroad

I have a habit of looking at familiar objects with strange eyes.  It occurred to me that the fourth line is ridiculously lame...
I've been workin' on the railroad
All the live-long day
I've been workin' on the railroad
Okay, what rhymes with day? May? Bay? Say? Nothing's working here.
Just to pass the time away.
That'll have to do. Makes no sense.  Not a job you'd do out of boredom.

I remember it from camp, I imagine. At camp they tolerated a certain amount of boys smirking at "Dinah won't you blow," but elementary schoolteachers would have had none o' that.

Wait a minute. Dinah. Oh, there's going to be something racist here, I'll bet. This will be a minstrel show song, and the three songs all put together from Lord knows where. I wonder if "banjo" is going to be a sexual reference I hadn't heard before.

Pretty much right, though not so bad as I feared. Tracking the popular culture references, Jonathan, there is even a Pound Puppies connection.


Texan99 said...

However lame "just to pass the time away" may be, you've got to admit it scans better than this version from your link:

I've been working on the trestle,
Driving spikes that grip.
I've been working on the trestle,
To be sure the ties won't slip.

Can't you hear the engine coming?
Run to the stanchion of the bridge!
Can't you see the big black smokestack
Coming down the ridge?

Not to mention the later line about treating the workers to goose and terrapin.

james said...

Manalive (the book)?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't get the connection, but if I read maybe it will come to me.

james said...

Looking at things with fresh eyes.

Assistant Village Idiot said...