Railroad Bill

Song composer(s)

Traditional

Grateful Dead Recordings

Not recorded by the Dead

Dead Related Recordings

No Dead related recordings entered

Other Recordings

900 Miles and other R.R. songs : Cisco Houston (1953)
Shivaree! : Tom Paley (1955)
Instrumental Music Of The Southern Appalachians : Various Artists (Etta Baker) (1956)
Folksongs and Ballads of Virginia : Paul Clayton (1956)
Walt Robertson : Walt Robertson (1959)
Dave Guard & The Whiskeyhill Singers (195?)
American Negro Songs from Slavery Times : Michel LaRue (1960)
Folk Music of Washington Square : Various Artists (Gary Lapow) (1962)
Fleming Brown : Fleming Brown (1962)
Joan Baez In Concert, Part 2 : Joan Baez (1963)
Hollywood Hootenanny [The Best of Hootenanny] : Various Artists (Barbara Dane) (1963)
Traditional Music At Newport 1964, Part 1 : Various Artists (Hobart Smith) (1965)
Mountain Banjo, Songs & Tunes : Various Artists (Riley Puckett & Gil Tanner) (1968)
Bad Man Ballads : Hobart Smith (196?)
Instrumental Music Of The Southern Appalachians : Various Artists (Etta Baker) (196?)
Raise A Ruckus Tonight & Have A Hootenanny : Alan Lomax & The Dupree Family (196?)
Folk Music In America, Vol. 6, Songs Of Migration & Immigration : Various Artists (1978)
Jubilee Concert : Lonnie Donnegan (1981)
Very Early Joan Baez : Joan Baez (1983)
Folk Visions and Voices - Traditional Music and Song in Northern Georgia, Vol. 2 : Various Artists (Willie Hill) (1984)
Shake Sugaree : Taj Mahal (1988)
Hard Travellin' : Ramblin' Jack Elliott (1989)
Skillet Licker Music 1955-1991, The Tanner Legacy : Gordon Tanner & Joe Miller (1992)
EP Collection : Lonnie Donnegan (1992)
Instrumental Music & Songs Of The Southern Appalachians : Eric Darling (19??)
Sinners & Saints (1926-1931) : Various Artists (19??)
The Train That Carried My Girl From Town : Frank Hutchison (19??)
The Asch Recordings, 1939 to 1945, Vol. 2 : Various Artists (Hobart Smith) (19??)

Performance History

Played by an unnamed bluegrass band with Garcia on banjo at an unknown venue in Burlingame in January 1962.

Not performed by the Grateful Dead. Occurs only on pre-Dead tapes featuring future members of the dead.

Notes

Some attempts have been made to link this song with real incidents but it seems that Railroad Bill is a legendary character. Only a few of the many deeds that are attributed to Railroad Bill are described in the version on the Burlingame tape;

Railroad Bill, Railroad Bill,
He don't work and he never will,
He'll just ride, ride, ride.

Railroad Bill he ain't so bad,
Killed his ma, shot a round at his dad,
And I'll ride, ride, ride.

Railroad Bill coming home soon,
Killed (McMillan?) by the light of the moon,
And I'll ride, ride, ride.

(Mistress McMillan she whooped out?)
(Don't ask my husband cause I heard him fall?)
And I'll ride, ride, ride.

I went down on old number one,
Railroad Bill he had just begun,
And I'll ride, ride, ride.

I went down on old number two,
Railroad Bill he was almost through,
And I'll ride, ride, ride.

Railroad Bill coming down the hill,
Lighting a cigar with a ten dollar bill,
And I'll ride, ride, ride.

He killed a chicken, sent me a wing,
(Thinks I don't work, cause I ain't doing a thing?)
And I'll ride, ride, ride.

Railroad Bill, Railroad Bill,
He don't work and he never will,
He'll just ride, ride, ride.

Recrded by Bob Dylan during the Self Portrait sessions but not released.