Nine Pound Hammer

Song composer(s)


Grateful Dead Recordings

Not recorded by the Dead

Dead Related Recordings

No Dead related recordings entered

Other Recordings

Nine Pound Hammer
Hill Billies (1927)
Monroe Brothers (1936)
Mountain Music Bluegrass Style : Various Artists (Julian "Smiley" Hobbs) (1959)
Robert Pete Williams (1959)
Brothers Four Greatest Hits : Brothers Four (1962)
Behind These Walls : Hank Ferguson (1963)
Got A Mind To Ramble : Tom Rush (1963)
Songs of the Southland : Harry and Jeannie West (1963)
The World's Best Five String Banjo : Don Reno & Red Smiley (1963)
Adcock Family (1964)
20 Bluegrass Favorites : Don Reno & Bill Harrell With The Tennessee Cutups (196?)
Earl Scruggs - His Family and Friends : Earl Scruggs (Gary Scruggs) (1972)
Feast Here Tonight : Monroe Brothers (1975)
I Wasn't Born To Rock 'n Roll : Roland White (1976)
Outright Bold-Faced Lies : Art Thieme (1977)
The Bluegrass Session : Vassar Clements (1978)
Live In Las Vegas : Tex Williams (1979)
Manzanita : Tony Rice (1979)
Recordings Of Grayson & Whitter : Grayson & Whitter (197?)
Guitar : Tony Rice (197?)
Bluegrass Classics : Jim & Jesse & The Virginia Boys (197?)
Live At The Bluegrass Festival : Lester Flatt (1986)
The Epic Bluegrass Hits : Jim & Jesse (1987)
Back Home : Merle Travis (1987)
Are You From Dixie? Great Country Brother Teams of the 1930's : Various Artists (Bill Monroe) (1988)
Home Is Where The Heart Is : David Grisman (1988)
Stanley Brothers : The Stanley Brothers (1988)
Live At The Old Quarter : Townes Van Zandt (1989)
Merle Travis 1944-1946 : Merle Travis (1990)
Blues, Songs & Ballads : Tom Rush (1990)
Bluegrass 1959-1969 : Bill Monroe (1991)
Capitol Collectors Series : Tennessee Ernie Ford (1991)
Come Along & Ride This Train : Johnny Cash (1991)
Collection : Hank Thompson (1991)
The Fool : Sanford Clark (1992)
Great American Train Songs : Various Artists (Merle Travis) (1993)
Rockin' Rollin' : Sanford Clark (1993)
Appalachian Swing : The Kentucky Colonels (1993)
Kitchen Tapes : Red Allen and Frank Wakefield (1994)
Rounder Bluegrass Guitar : Various Artists (1996)
Steel Rails (Classic Railroad Songs) - Roots of Americana, Vol. 1 : Various Artists (1997)
Long Journey Home : The Stanley Brothers (19??)
Al Hopkins & His Buckle Busters (19??)
Hillbilly Music....Thank God, Vol. 1 : Various Artists (Merle Travis) (19??)
Folk Songs Of Our Land : Flatt & Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys (19??)
The Railroad in Folk Song : Various Artists (Monroe Brothers) (19??)
The Legendary Monroe Brothers Collection : Monroe Brothers (19??)
Songs Of The Railroad Recorded 1924-1934 : Various Artists (Al Hopkins And His Buckle Busters) (19??)
Shenandoah Valley Cut-Ups (19??)

Roll On Buddy
Monroe Brothers (1937)
Pickin' & Blowin' : George Pegram & Red Parham (195?)
Long Journey Home : Kentucky Colonels (1964)
McGee Brothers & Arthur Smith - Old Timers of the Grand Old Opry : McGee Brothers & Arthur Smith (1964)
Mac Martin & the Dixie Travelers (1964)
Ed Vogler & Cullen Galyean with the Partners (1966)
Belafonte On Campus : Harry Belafonte (1967)
Doc Watson On Stage (featuring Merle Watson) : Doc Watson (1971)
Fiddlers Convention In Mountain City, Tennessee : Various Artists (Charlie Bowman & His Brothers) (1972)
Bean Blossom : Bill Monroe (1973)
Belafonte - Concert In Japan : Harry Belafonte (1974)
Essential : Ramblin' Jack Elliott (1974)
Feast Here Tonight : Monroe Brothers (1975)
Close To Home : Roscoe Holcomb (1975)
Music From South Turkey Creek : George Pegram & Red Parham (1976)
Live In Japan : Del McCoury (1980)
Let Me Fall - Old Time Bluegrass from the Virginia- North Carolina Border : Galyean and Harrison (1984)
Old Time North Carolina Mountain Music : David and Billie Ray Johnson (1985)
With The Greatest Respect : Alex Campbell (1987)
A Man And His Music : Harry Belafonte (1989)
Remembering Merle : Doc Watson (1992)
Bluegrass 1959-1969 : Bill Monroe (1991)
The Music Of Bill Monroe : Bill Monroe (1994)
Old Time Music : New Lost City Ramblers & Friends (1994)
The Vanguard Years : Doc Watson (1995)

Performance History

Played by the Hart Valley Drifters at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo on November 10th 1962.

Possibly played by the Wildwood Boys at the Monterey Folk Festival in 1963 but no tape circulates.

Played by the Black Mountain Boys on the 7th March 1964.


A traditional song that occurs with a wide range of variants & names. The most popular name used is Nine Pound Hammer, this use perhaps being due to the popularity of recordings using the name by, for example, Merle Travis and Flatt & Scruggs.

Roll on Buddy is also used commonly. There are other 'Roll On' names such as Roll On John.

One theory of the evolution of this song is given in Tennessee Strings by Charles K Wolfe. Charles Bowman, the fiddler with the Hill Billies, claimed to have learned some of the song from railway construction gangs in East Tennessee in 1905. He added to it and with Al Hopkins, also of the Hill Billies, arranged it for a recording session in 1927. It is this arrangement that has become the 'traditional' song of the present day.

Here are the lyrics of the version, performed by the Black Mountain Boys, that is usually listed as Roll On Buddy on tapes;

See this nine pound hammer, nine pound hammer,
Is a little too heavy, little too heavy,
For my size, for my size,
For my size.

Now roll on buddy, roll on buddy,
Don't you roll so slow, roll so slow,
How can I roll, how can I roll,
When the wheels won't go.

I'm going on a mountain, going on a mountain,
To see my baby, to see my baby,
And I ain't coming back, ain't coming back,
No I ain't coming back.

Now roll on buddy, roll on buddy,
Don't you roll so slow, roll so slow,
How can I roll, how can I roll,
When the wheels won't go.

Ain't one hammer,
In this tunnel, in this tunnel,
That rings like mine, rings like mine,
That rings like mine.

Now roll on buddy, roll on buddy,
Don't you roll so slow, roll so slow,
How can I roll, how can I roll,
When the wheels won't go.

Now roll on buddy, roll on buddy,
Don't you roll so slow, roll so slow,
How can I roll, how can I roll,
When the wheels won't go.

The first three lines of each verse and of the chorus are sung as two parts, the echo phrase slightly overlapping the first statement of the phrase. The echo phrase is missed during the first line of the last verse.