railroadIt’s been a while since I’ve posted another ukulele song. So here’s “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” – it’s a preschool storytime standard, and babies and toddlers like it too. Wikipedia defines “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” as “an American folk song” that came out of this country’s uncomfortable minstrel-show tradition, and the Wikipedia article about the song cites both the lyrics to the modern version that everybody knows, plus a late nineteenth-century version of the song in “dialect,” with racist lyrics. Needless to say, this “original” version of the song is no longer sung.

I looked it up because the lyrics to this song always seemed to me as if they were from two songs stuck together – and it turns out that it’s true. The “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah” section – which really doesn’t make much sense when you sing the song, but who cares, I guess – is evidently part of an earlier song that was somehow incorporated into “Railroad.”

The chording adds the simple C7 chord to the C, F, and G7 ukulele chords we’ve been using all along, but if you’re a beginner, you’ll be changing chords a little faster than usual in some places. Have fun!

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