Friday, July 24, 2015

Hobo's Meditation

There are songs about everybody - songs about chimney sweeps and bankers and gamblers, farmers and mothers and fathers, songs about dancing bears and gypsies and kings and queens and sailors. One of my favorite songs is about hobos.

Jimmie Rodgers, the composer, worked for the railroad in the early 1900s, and a number of the songs he created were about life on the rails. 'Hobo's Meditation' is one of them - a simple song, plain spoken, not overly sentimental with a lovely, 3/4 time waltzmelody. Many country singers, including the 'Trio' (Emmy Lou Harris, Linda Rondstadt, and Dolly Parton) and Merle Haggard have performed and recorded versions of the song. Jimmie Rodgers emphasizes neither the hardships not the romance of being a hobo, but just includes them with us all.

The lyrics of Hobo's Meditation by Jimmie Rodgers:

Tonight as I lay on the boxcar
Just waiting for a train to pass by
What will become of the hobo
Whenever his turn comes to die
There's a Master up yonder in Heaven
Got a place that we might call our home
Will we have to work for a living
Or can we continue to roam

Will there be any freight trains in Heaven
Any boxcars in which we might hide         
Will there be any tough cops or brakemen
Will they tell us that we cannot ride
Will the hobo chum with the rich man
Will we always have money to spare
Will they have respect for the hobo
In that land that lies hidden up there

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