John Henry

“This song (and the majority of the other songs) was recorded ‘live’,  jamming and all. I’m not saying putting your amp on 11 and setting yourself free is the best answer, but sometimes it’s the only answer.”

-From the liner notes of Flyover Land

 



John Henry was a steel string man,
Lived out the back of a rusty van.
He smoked Pall Mall straights and he read Ayn Rand.
He wrote songs from his heart for a rock and roll band.

He was grungy — courtesy of St. Vinny D’s.
No fashion statement. That was all he could be.
This was all before Seattle boys were old enough to pee.
I don’t mean to be petty, but it’s eatin’ at me.

Chorus:
John Henry was here, there’s pieces of him everywhere.
John Henry shot airlines out of the air. Right out of the air.
Don’t tell me John Henry died.
Don’t tell me John Henry died.

Them company boys had a new machine.
It was crystal, it was lite — didn’t need no nicotine.
It could sample your soul and spit out something green.
It sounded like James Brown and it looked like James Dean.

And it was everyone’s favorite on everybody’s charts —
Hey USA Today declared it “cutting edge art”.
John picked up his axe and said, “I’ll tear it apart.
It’s just breakin’ my heart, just breakin’ my heart.”

repeat chorus

When he met the machine, he was pushin’ 33.
Songs poured out of him like his life’s poetry,
And that engine just sampled him, exponentially.
He put his amp on eleven and set himself free.

John Henry was a steel string man,
In the empty heart of a bottom line land.
Now he’s just pure light and voltage in a runaway jam.
It’s all a part of the plan; it’s all a part of the plan.

repeat chorus

It’s all a part of the plan; to be a part of the jam.
It’s all a part of the plan, part of the runaway jam.
It’s all a part of the plan; to be a part of the jam.
It’s all a part of the plan, part of the runaway jam.

 

“John Henry” appears on Perfect Nude, Flyover Land and Live at the Pres House.


© and ℗ 1994, 1995, 2001 Marques Bovre