John Henry lyrics
Saturday, April 8, 2006

When John Henry was a little baby
Sitting on his papa's knee
He took a No. 2 pencil and a yellow legal pad
He said A writer is all I want to be Lord, Lord
A writer is all I want to be

John Henry was an English major
And poetry was his line
And he sat by the window with his yellow legal pad
And he wrote one sentence at a time Lord, Lord
He sat and wrote poems like a man.

One day the teacher says to John Henry
No more writing by hand
I got a laptop computer with abig hard drive
It can download data like a man Lord, Lord
It can download data like a man.

John Henry told his teacher
"I'll challenge your laptop to a test.
I'll take the paper and my good old No. 2
And we'll see who does the best Lord, Lord
We'll see who does the best."

The teacher said Go and they started to write,
You could hear that laptop fly
John Henry sat with a smile on his face,
I'll write me a sonnet or I'll die, Lord, Lord,
I'll write me a sonnet or I'll die.

The pencil moved on the paper
In iambic pentameter time.
I'm writing a sonnet from my hops on down,
Listen to the beautiful rhyme, Lord, Lord
Listen to the beautiful rhyme.

Then the teacher started to holler
Every line he wrote was lost
The laptop it was frozen
And the screen was covered in frost, Lord, Lord
The screen was covered in frost

The laptop froze and it had to shut down
And then reboot the screen
John Henry kept writing on the yellow page
And the line was good and clean, Lord, Lord!
The line was good and clean.

All you writers who sit at computers
If you're struggling here's what you do
Look at the paper with a pencil in your hand
A good old No. 2, Lord, Lord
A good old No. 2.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy