Parallel Anthology Track 24

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Icon Unknown Status.jpg Track 24: Furry Lewis - Kassie Jones   Victor 2166-A&B; Recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, 28.8.1928

Anthology Track 24 label.jpg

Record label assigns authorship to "F Lewis" as does Harry Smith's Anthology booklet, and

According to wikipedia, Lewis died in 1981, which would put this composition in copyright until 1st January 2052.

The Roud Folksong Index classifies this song as a version of Roud 3247. A Roud number search returns several results which predate Lewis's recording, dating from as early as 1905 and ranging across several states (Mississippi, W Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee).

According to the Where Dead Voices Gather blog:

John Luther "Casey" Jones was a railroad engineer who worked on the Illinois Central Railroad. He was killed on April 30, 1900 when the passenger train he was driving collided with a stalled freight train at Vaughn, Mississippi.


The ballad commemorating Jones's death was reportedly written only days afterward by Wallace Saunders, a black railroad worker and a friend of Jones. The song has been recorded numerous times and in numerous variations. The story has also inspired other unrelated songs, such as the song "Casey Jones" by the Grateful Dead.

Lewis's version differs significantly with Saunders' original, being apparently adapted from the African-American railroad song "Charley Snyder" and the hobo song "Jay Gould's Daughter."

So, despite the claim to authorship on the label, the song seems to be constructed from a variety of public domain elements.

Parallel anthology main index page

Alternative Versions

Casey Jones (The Union Scab) by Pete Seeger    album released in 1957: Spotify
Liner notes for this album date this version of this song to 1909, when it was copyrighted by Tallifero Sibert and Eddie Newton. No information is available about these writers.
No claim to arrangement credit for Seeger is made.
Casey Jones (The Union Scab) by Harry McClintock    recorded in 1953 (according to Spotify
According to wikipedia, this "is a song written by Joe Hill in 1911 in San Pedro, shortly after the first day of a nationwide walkout of 40,000 railway employees. It was written
as a parody of the song 'Casey Jones'." According to wiikipedia, Joe Hill died in 1915.
Casey Jones by Mrs. Laura McDonald and Reba Glaze    recorded in 1958: Max Hunter Collection
Field recording
Casey Jones by Mr. T. R. Hammond    recorded in 1958: Max Hunter Collection
Field recording