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Wabash Cannonball
Song

Wabash Cannonball

Roy Acuff
Album:

Song Meaning and Background of Wabash Cannonball by Roy Acuff


Wabash Cannonball is an American folk song that has become popular over the years. It was first recorded in the 1880s and has since been covered by many artists. However, none of them have reached the level of popularity that Roy Acuff’s version did. The song has become an important part of American culture and is commonly heard at sporting events.


The song is about a fictional train that operates on the Great Rock Island Route. While the exact origin of the song is unclear, most historians believe that it was created by hobos. Hobos were traveling and homeless workers who roamed the United States during the late 19th century and the Great Depression. According to George Milburn, the author of The Hobo’s Hornbook, hobos described a train called the Wabash Cannonball. It was like the spectral Flying Dutchman for sailors and could be seen everywhere.


The lyrics to the song describe a train that glides along the woodland and o’er the hills. The song also mentions that the train is powerful and fast. This is meant to evoke a sense of excitement and adventure for the listener. The song also references the American railroad system, which was a vital part of the nation’s economy.


The song is often played at sporting events by college marching bands. For example, the University of Texas Longhorn Band plays the song at the beginning of the fourth quarter during football games. The song is also a favorite amongst fans of the Kansas State University Marching Band. The band often performs the song in conjunction with Wildcat Victory, which is the official fight song for K-State.


Lyrics of Wabash Cannonball by Roy Acuff


From the great Atlantic ocean to the wide Pacific shore

She climbs a flowery mountains o'er the hills and by the shore

She's mighty tall and handsome she's known quite well by all

She's a regular combination on the Wabash Cannonball

 

Listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar

As she glides along the woodland o'er the hills and by the shore

Hear the mighty rush of the engine hear those lonesome hoboes call

Traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball

 

Well she came down from Birmingham one cold December day

As she pulled into the station you could hear all the people say

She's from Tennessee she's long and she's tall

She came down from Birmingham on the Wabash Cannonball

 

Listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar

As she glides along the woodland o'er the hills and by the shore

Hear the mighty rush of the engine hear those lonesome hoboes call

Traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball

 

Here's to daddy Claxton may his name forever stand

And always be remembered in the courts throughout the land

His earthly race is over and the curtains round him fall

We'll carry him home to Dixie on the Wabash Cannonball

 

Listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar

As she glides along the woodland o'er the hills and by the shore

Hear the mighty rush of the engine hear those lonesome hoboes call

Traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball

Release Date

1936

Songwriter/s

Unknown. Origins 19th century

Producer/s

Label/s

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