This week in Pig Heart Lover: “Spike Driver Blues”

Pig Heart Lover is the musical hobby horse of jayveeaitch and Sniper.  Sniper’s job is to try to make up with his drumming apparatus for jayveeaitch’s various crimes against the rhapodic arts of singing and strumming. At the very least, Sniper succeeds in vastly improving the offerings.

With “Spike Driver Blues,” we reboot the legend of John Henry, the steel driving man.  Actually the song’s title and most of the words come from Mississippi John Hurt’s great 1928 version of the folk song.  It was a chance overhearing of MJH three or four years ago that inspired me to take up Travis picking and that eventually led to my current songwriting pastime.  At first I really just wanted to play his songs, but my attempts to do so led to the discovery that I was incredibly white.  Butting up against your limitations can be embittering, but disavowal serves only to separate you what from you can do.  So I kept his words and changed the music. I switched from Hurt’s cheerful G major blues to a B minor drone, gunning for more of a Nick Cave/Lenny Cohen vibe. Here’s last night’s go at it, recorded on my trusty little Sony recorder.  Sony, for when you’ve made some magic that it’d be a crime not to have captured. Click on the link for a listen.

Spike Driver Blues

Take this hammer and carry it to the captain / Take this hammer and carry it to him / Take this hammer back to the captain / Take this hammer right back to him / And you can tell him that I’m gone / Yeah, tell him that I’m surely gone

It was the hammer that killed John Henry / It was the hammer that took his life / It was the hammer that killed John Henry / It was the sorrow of his wife / That’s why I won’t let it near me / No, get that thing away from me

It’s a long way from east Colorado / It’s a long way to my home / Such a long way from east Colorado / Such a long way to where I’m going / Yeah, honey, that is where I’m going / I’m flying like a mother home

John Henry left his hammer / Left it lying by the side of the road / John Henry left his hammer / Left it covered all over in blood / And it ain’t ever coming clean / No, nothing’s getting out that stain

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