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Song of the Iron Road

[ Roud - ; DT IRONROAD ; Mudcat 77136 ; Ewan MacColl]

Ewan MacColl wrote Song of the Iron Road for the 1958 Radio Ballad The Ballad of John Axon. This version was included in 1972 on his Argo compilation The World of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger Volume 2. He also sang it in 1958 on his 10" Topic album Second Shift, and this was included with most of the album’s tracks in 1964 on his Topic album Steam Whistle Ballads. It was also included in 1993 on his Topic compilation The Real MacColl, and in 2002 on the Topic anthology The Acoustic Folk Box.

The Ian Campbell Folk Group sang The Iron Road in 1968 on their Transatlantic album The Circle Game, which was included in 2016 on their Cherry Tree compilation The Complete Transatlantic Recordings.

Bob Fox and Stu Luckley sang The Song of the Iron Road in 1982 on their Black Crow album Wish We Never Had Parted. It was also included in 1997 on their Fellside compilaiion Box of Gold.


Ewan MacColl’s Song of the Iron Road

The iron road’s a hard road and the work is never ending
Working night and day on the iron way
We’re the boys who keep the engines rolling
You sigh on at the local shed, they put you to the cleaning
In your dungarees, cleaning super dees
You’re a sweeper-upper, brewer-upper, shovel slinger,
spanner bringer Steam raiser, fire dropper, general cook and bottle washer

Learning how to keep ’em rolling
When you’ve done your time at the loco shed and had your share of trouble
On the old footplate, you’re the driver’s mate
And you’re married to a lousy shovel
It’s check the water, check the tools and chuck the blooming coal in
Give the gauge a wipe, check injector pipe, now it’s
Swing your shovel at the double, give her rock watch the clock
Steam rising, sweat running, back aching, bone shaking
Fireman, fireman, keep her rolling
When you’ve shoveled a million tons of coal some ten or twelve years later

And your only dream is of raising steam
Then they hand to you your drivers papers
The iron road is a hard road and the work is never ending
Working night and day on the iron way, we’re the
Local drivers, early riser, lodging turners, mile burners
Eleven quid a week earners
We’re the boys that keep ’em rolling