Friday Five: John Henry
According to myth and folklore, some 170 years ago, a hero was born with a hammer in his hand. John Henry was a mountain of a man who developed a specialty of driving railroad steel. When the railroad owner had the foreman bring a steam-powered hammer to do the work, John Henry challenged the owner to a contest. John Henry bet his life for the jobs of his fellow black driving crew. He raced the steam hammer alone through a mountain. In the end, John Henry beat the machine, but exhausted, collapsed and dies.
Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe sings about the folk hero in Nine Pound Hammer: That nine pound hammer that killed John Henry/Aint a gonna kill me, aint a gonna kill me.