song, rumoured to have originated with a prison work gang he ran into as he was leaving Louisiana
with John Lomax
, about the railroad line out of New Orleans
. It begins with a spoken introduction:
That Rock Island Line train, coming back this a-way. A traindriver, he pulls up to the toll-gate and the man hollers nicely what all he had on board, and he said:
I got cows, I got horses, I got hogs, I got sheep, I got goats, I got all live stock, I got all live stock!
Well, they said, you're all right boy, you don't have to pay no toll, and they gonna let that train on by. So, he goes on through the toll gate and as he goes through, he starts pickin' up a little bit of speed, pickin' up a little bit of steam. He got on through and he turns to look back at the man, and he says:
I done fooled ya!
I fooled you!
I got pig iron,
I got pig iron!
I got pig iron
Sung:chorus: Oh the Rock Island Line, she's a mighty good road
Oh the Rock Island Line, she's a road to ride
Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty good road
If you want to ride her, gotta ride her like you're flyin'
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line
And it's A, B, C, W, X, Y, Z,
Cat's in the cupboard but she can't see me
Well I may be right and I may be wrong,
Lawd you gonna miss me when I'm gone
Jesus died to save our sins
Glory to God I'm gonna see him again
Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
smotin' that water with a 2 x 4
Addendum: I had considered messaging dirkg42 about this, but then realized he hasn't been here in over three years. I may still be wrong about the one line, but at least the 1939 Lomax recording of the Story Battle and Denny Johnson version of the song clearly has "like you're flying". Go figure.