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Wabash Cannonball Song

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Jonny Cash – “Wabash Cannonball”

The Wabash Cannonball song is a folk song which is thought to originate among the hobos who rode the trains. It was written about a train which did exist but the hobos exaggerated it as being incredibly fast, hence the name Wabash Cannonball. Hobo songs were shared generation to generation, spreading from each town where the hobo would sing the song. Hillbilly folk singers embraced the song, heightening its popularity in the 1930s. Roy Acuff’s recording of this song sold over one million copies alone.

“The Wabash Cannonball” (lyrics)

From the great Atlantic Ocean to the wide Pacific shore
From the queen of flowing mountains to the balmy southern shore
She’s mighty tall and handsome and quite well known by all
For she’s the combination of the Wabash Cannonball

Won’t-cha listen to the jingle and the rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodland through the hills and by the shore
Just hear the mighty engine and lonesome hobos squall
While travelin’ through the jungles on the Wabash Cannonball

Now the train it is a wonder and it travels mighty fast
It is made of shining silver and it takes of like a blast
You leave Mobile at seven; at eight you reach St. Paul
And there’s a lonely whistle on the Wabash Cannonball

When she comes down from Memphis on a cold December day
As she rolled into the station you could hear the people say
“Why, there’s a girl from Memphis, she’s long and she is tall
And she came down from Memphis on the Wabash Cannonball”

Here’s to hobo Daddy Claxton, may his name forever stand
It’ll always be remembered in the courts of Alabam’
His earthy race is over, the curtains ‘round him fall
We’ll take him home to victory on the Wabash Cannonball.

Inducted 2008

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