Music Monday: The Ballad of John Henry

I loved the story of John Henry when I was a kid.

When we left North Carolina, we through a farewell party which was full of musicians and music. Reagan Cole (RIP) played a version of John Henry and it was amazing. The room shook. People pounded on tables. (I have a vivid image of a demure manager from Wellspring Grocery pounding the table as if it were the rock face and her hand was a hammer).

I can still feel that song, some 15 years later.

So, I started looking for that version. There innumerable versions of the song. The only one that caught the feed of my memory is this one by Harry Belefonte:

This is a fine, fine version, but it’s not the version.

Then I took a long shot and started searching for Reagan! And there are some of recordings of him on YouTube! YAY! Thanks Lynn! And yes, there is one of his John Henry:

This should give an idea of the arrangement though it doesn’t capture the wild experience of that farewell party performance. That was the last time I saw Reagan.