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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gandy Dancers & Linin' Track Sound Files & Videos

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is Part II of a two part series on the African American work song "Can't You Line 'em ("Linin' Track", "Tie-Shuffling Chant"). "Can't You Line 'em is an African American work song that was composed by "Gandy Dancers" (men who worked on the railways "linin' track".)

Part II of this series features a YouTube sound file of several lining track songs as performed by former Gandy Dancers. That sound file includes video of a re-enactment of lining track as well as photographs of lining and video clips of a re-enactment of lining track.

Part II of this series also showcases one sound file & transcription of a version of that song as performed by Blues/Folk artist "Leadbelly, and three renditions of the song "Linin' Track" as performed by contemporary vocalists & musicians. My transcriptions of those songs as performed by those contemporary artists are also included in this post

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/10/early-versions-of-cant-you-line-em.html Early Versions Of "Can't You Line' Em" ("Linin' Track") for Part I of this series. Part I of this series features early versions of this song & provides general information about Gandy Dancers.

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FEATURED SOUND FILES & VIDEOS

Example #1: Gandy Dancers



Uploaded by folkstreamer on Jun 23, 2008

Musical traditions and recollections of eight retired African-American railroad track laborers whose occupational folk songs were once heard on railroads that crisscross the South.
-snip-
This video's visuals & narratation are a historical treasure. The video producer includes excerpts of Gandy Dancer songs as text superimposed on the screen.

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Example #2: Can't You Line 'Em - Lead Belly



Uploaded by maolchalium on Sep 12, 2008

Classic Leadbelly number. Unknown recording date.
-snip-
From what I’ve read online, this Leadbelly performance was recorded sometimes between 1940 to 1943

LYRICS: LININ' TRACK
[traditional]

Ho, boys, is you right?
I done got right
All I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back

Chorus:
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em –track
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em -track
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em -track
Here we go linin track

If I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em –track
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em –tracka lack
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em –tracka lack
Here we go linin track

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smotin that water with a two-by-four
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em –tracka lack
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em –tracka lack
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em –tracka lack
Here we go linin track

[Transcription from the sound file by Azizi Powell, 10/22/2012]
**
This same version is also on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpGtnxQl05s "Leadbelly - Line Em'"
-snip-
"Smotin that water with a two by four" = hitting that water with a board [to cause the sea to separate and yield dry land as indicated in the Bible]

**
The words "track" and "trackalack" aren't clearly pronounced, which is probably why "rackalack”, “jackalack”, and other approximations of those words are found in transcriptions of Leadbelly's version of this song.

As an aside, I believe that the word "shakalaka" in the phrase "boom shakalaka" has its earliest source in the "trackalack" (and similarly sounding) phrases from the Gandy Dancer's track linin' songs. However, a more direct source for "boom shakalaka" is the "Boom shaka-laka-laka" riff that is found in Sly & The Family Stone's 1969 hit song "I Wanna Take You Higher". Here's an excerpt of that song's lyrics:
[Freddie:] Feeling's gettin stronger
[Larry:] Music's gettin longer too
[Rose:] Music is flashin me
[Sly:] I want to take you higher
Baby baby baby light my fire

[All:] Boom shaka-laka-laka Boom shaka-laka-laka"....

Source: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/slythefamilystone/iwanttotakeyouhigher.html

**
Click https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakalaka for other examples of the use of the vocalization "shakalaka" (boom shakalaka).

**
In Lead Belly's rendition of Can't You Line 'Em" that is given above, it's clear that he is singing “here we go linin track”. His renditions of this song where that line is given as “See Eloise gonna linin track” are from other performances.

From http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=28408 "Who was Eloise in Leadbelly's Linin'", posted by Roger in Baltimore, Jun 05 - 01:06 PM
"Document released a CD in September of 2004 called Leadbelly Live: New York 1947 and Austin, Texas 1949. On it, he does a spoken introduction of Linin' Track that talks about Ella Louise as a woman who is calling out the lead, directing the other workers how to line the track... I, too, suspect that Lead Belly's story may be apocryphal..."
-snip-
The "Related Links" section of Part I of this series contains an additional hyperlink to a Mudcat Folk/Blues forum discussion about the meaning of the name "Eloise" in the "Linin' Track" song.
**
Here's a pertinent quote from commenter "12-stringer" on the Mudcat Blues/Folk discussion forum:
Date: 30 Jan 06 - 05:25 PM http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=19043 Lyr Add: Linin' Track
[It's] "Not remotely likely Leadbelly wrote it ['Linin Track"]from scratch," though he standardized and popularized it. I suspect at least some of his songs were picked up while he was chauffeuring John Lomax on various field trips after he got out of Angola [prison]..."

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Example #3 - LYRICS: LININ' TRACK*
[traditional]

Ho, boys, is you right?
I done got right.

What I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back
Singin

Chorus:
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em –trackalack
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em -track
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em
See how Eloise go linin' track*

Woman and I'se lyin in the shade
Talkin 'bout the money that I ain't made
Sayin

Chorus

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smote that water with ah two-by-four

Chorus

If I could I surely would
Stand on the rock that ah Moses stood

Chorus

????
The bosses ain't hot I pray to die [?]

Chorus

Mary Martha Luke and John
All of the disciples are dead and gone.

Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em –trackalack
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em -track
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em

[instrumental]
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em –trackalack
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em -track
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em
See Eloise gonna linin' track*

I may be right. I may be wrong.
But you sure gonna miss me when I'm gone.

Chorus [sung multiple times with other another singer joining in.]

-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell from the video Austin Walkin' Cane - Linin' Track (Tie-Shuffling Chant). This video doesn't appear to be on YouTube anymore.

*This line might be "See how wese gonna linin' track".

??? I'm not sure about this verse's lyrics. [from 1:40 - 1:44]

Additions & corrections for this transcription -and all other transcriptions on this page - are very much appreciated.

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Example #4: Linin' Track - The Johnny Possum Band



Uploaded by johnnypossum on May 22, 2009

….The Johnny Possum Band performing 'Linin' Track'. Recorded live at the Harbour Light Theatre in Lyttelton, New Zealand….

LYRICS: LININ' TRACK
(Traditional)

Ho, boys, is you right?
[We right]
I done got right

All I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back

Chorus:
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em –trackalack
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em -trackalack
Ho, boys, can’t you line 'em -trackalack
Let's see how wese gonna linin' track

Mary and the baby were settin' in the shade
Thinkin' of the money that I ain't made
Mary, Marthy, Luke and John
Well all them 'ciples now they're dead and gone

Chorus

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Battin' at the waves with a two-by-four
[Hey, boy]
Well if I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood

Chorus

Down in the holler below the field
Angels are workin' on my chariot wheel
I told my Lord I was ready to go
He sent me down way below.
Chorus

Ho, boys, is you right?
[We right]
I done got right

All I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back

[Transcription by Azizi Powell from video, 10/22/2012]
-snip-
Explanations for selected words
'ciples = disciples

battin = hitting

Down in the holler (hollar)= a geographic formation similar to a valley, or a ravine

He sent me down way below – to hell

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Example #5: The Dream Blues Team - Lining Track (2011)



Uploaded by AlruneRod2811 on Aug 14, 2011

Svante Sjöblom: mandolin - Olav Poulsen: slideguitar - Peter Nande: harp - Paul Banks: vocal & guitar - Mik Schack: washboard - Hugo Rasmussen: bass - Tim Lothar: drums - An amateur footage shot at Huset in Aalborg, Denmark - August 2011

LYRICS: LININ' TRACK
[traditional]

Hey, boys, is you right?
I done got right
All I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back

Chorus:
Hey, boys, don’t you 'em
Hey, boys, don’t you line 'em
Hey, boys, don’t you line 'em
See Eloise go linin track


Well if I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood
I don’t know but I’ve been told
Streets of heaven are paved with gold.
saida

Chorus
Yeah-ah!

[instrumental]

Hey, boys, don’t you 'em
Hey, boys, don’t you line 'em
Hey, boys, don’t you line 'em
See Eloise go linin track

Hey, boys, don’t you 'em
Hey, boys, don’t you line 'em
Hey, boys, don’t you line 'em
See Eloise go linin track

And if I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood
Yeah, I don’t know but I’ve been told
Streets of heaven are paved with gold

Said ah
[chorus] 2x
-snip-
[Transcription by Azizi Powell from the video, 10/22/2012]

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
Thanks to all who composed this song, thanks to the early performers of this song, and thanks to those performers of this song that are featured in this post. My thanks also to John & Allan Lomax for collecting & recording this song. Thanks to all those whose comments I reposted and thanks to the producers and publishers of these featured sound clips and videos.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

2 comments:

  1. Koerner, Ray & Glover version here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEswgwC0GL8
    Definitely worth a listen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing that link to a rendition of "Can't You Line 'em" that Koerner, Ray & Glover performed at a bar concert in 2002.

      Here's that hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEswgwC0GL8.

      Thanks also to MVDEntertainmentGrp, the publisher of that video, for including the lyrics found in this pancocojams post and also including a link to this post.

      Delete