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Music about the Erie Canal -- Lyrics

Low Bridge, Everybody Down, or Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal

Note: Later versions of this song changed the word "years" to "miles". The following text uses the original "years".

I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
We’ve hauled some barges in our day, Filled with lumber, coal and hay,
And ev’ry inch of the way I know, From Albany to Buffalo.

Low bridge, ev’rybody down, Low bridge, We must be getting near a town.
You can always tell your neighbor, You can always tell your pal,
If he’s ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

We’d better look ‘round for a job old gal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
You bet your life I wouldn’t part with Sal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
Giddap there gal, we’ve passed that lock, We’ll make Rome ‘fore six o’ clock,
So one more trip and then we’ll go, Right straight back to Buffalo.

Low bridge, ev’rybody down, Low bridge, I’ve got the finest mule in town,
Once a man named Mike McGinty, tried to put it over Sal,
Now he’s way down at the bottom of the Erie Canal.

Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
Oh, I’d like to see a mule as good as Sal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
A friend of mine once got her sore, Now he’s got a broken jaw.
‘Cause she let fly with her iron toe, And kicked him into Buffalo.

Low bridge, ev’rybody down, Low bridge, I’ve got the finest mule in town,
If you’re looking ‘round for trouble, better stay away from Sal,
She’s the only fighting donkey on the Erie Canal.

I don’t have to call when I want my Sal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
She trots from her stall like a good old gal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
I eat my meals with Sal each day, I eat beef and she eats hay.
She ain’t so slow if you want to know, She put the “Buff” in Buffalo.

Low bridge, ev’rybody down, Low bridge, I’ve got the finest mule in town,
Eats a bale of hay for dinner, and on top of that, my Sal,
Tries to drink up all the water in the Erie Canal.

You’ll soon hear them sing all about my gal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
It’s a darned fool ditty, ‘bout my darned fool Sal, Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
Oh, ev’ry band will play it soon, Darned fool words and a darned fool tune,
You’ll hear it sung ev’rywhere you go, from Mexico to Buffalo.

Low bridge, ev’rybody down, Low bridge, I’ve got the finest mule in town,
She’s a perfect, perfect lady, and she blushes like a gal,
If she hears you sing about her and the Erie Canal.

The Raging Canal

Come listen to my story, ye landsmen one and all,
I'll sing to you the dangers of that raging canal.
For I am one of many who expects a watery grave,
For I've been at the mercy of the wind and of the wave.

I left Albany harbor 'bout the break of day,
And if I rightly remember 'twas the second day of May.
We trusted to our driver, altho' he was but small,
For he knew all the windings of that raging canal.

It seemed as if the Devil had his work in hand that night,
For all our oil was gone, and our lamps they gave no light.
The clouds began to gather and the rain began to fall,
And I wished myself off of that raging canal.

The captain told his driver to hurry with all speed,
And his orders were obeyed, for he soon cracked up his lead.
With the fastest kind of driving, we allowed by twelve o'clock,
We'd be on old Schenectady right bang against the dock.

But sad was the fate of our poor devoted bark,
For the rain kept on pouring and the night it grew dark.
The horses gave a stumble and the driver gave squall,
And they tumbled head over heels into the raging canal.

The Captain came on deck, with a voice so clear and sound,
Saying, "Cut the horses loose, my boys, or else we'll all be drowned."
The driver swam to shore, altho' he was but small,
While the horses sank to rise no more in the raging canal.

The cook she wrung her hands, and she came upon the deck,
Saying, "Alas, what will become of us, our boat it is a wreck?"
The steersman knocked her over, for he was a man of sense,
And the bowsman jumped ashore and he lashed her to a fence.

The Captain came on deck with a spy glass in his hand,
But the night it was so dark he could not discover land.
He said to us with a faltering voice, while tears began to fall,
Prepare to meet your death this night on the raging canal.

The sky was rent asunder, the lighting it did flash,
The thunder rattled up above, just like eternal smash.
The clouds were all upsot, and the rigging it did fall,
And we scudded under bare poles on that raging canal.

We took the old cook's pettycoat, for want of better dress,
And rigged it out upon the pole as a signal of distress.
We pledged ourselves hand to hand aboard the boat to bide,
And not to quit the deck while a plank hung to her side.

At last that horrid night cut dirt from the sky,
The storm it did abate, and a boat came passing by,
It soon espied our signal as each on his knees did fall,
Thankful we escaped a grave on the raging canal.

We each of us took a nip and signed the pledge anew,
And wonderful as danger ceased, how up our courage grew.
The craft in sight bore down on us and quickly was 'long side
And we all jumped aboard, and for Buffalo did ride.

Now, if I live a thousand years, the horrors of that night,
Will ever in my memory be a spot most burning bright.
For nothing in this whole wide world will ever raise my gall,
Except the thoughts of my voyage on the raging canal.

I’m Afloat on the Erie Canal

I'm afloat! I'm afloat! On the Erie Canal.
Its wave is my home and my scow beats them all.
Off! Up, with your hats! Give three cheers, now three more.
I'm afloat! I'm afloat! After four months on shore.
The prim, painted packets right past us may souse.
They may rub. They may bump, but they can't stave out bows.
With darkness around us, and bridges full low.
O'er the raging canal rights onward we go.
Come, boy. Whip the mare. Keep her head to the wind.
And I warrant we'll soon leave the snails all behind.
Up! Up! with your caps. Now give cheers three times three. I'm afloat!
And the cook's getting tea.

The night is pitch dark and the rain has let loose,
Who's afeerd while while our scow swims on like a goose.
What to her is the swash of Guv'nor Cliton's Big Ditch?
She has braved it six years under Captain Saul Fitch.
I fear not the breakers. I heed not the wave,
I've the towpath to steer by and a boathook to save.
And ne'er as lubberly landman I'll quail.
When the captain gives orders to take in all sail.
Ho! On deck her, my boys! Stand by with your poles.
There's a raft right ahead. Heaven save our poor souls.
Hard down with your helm! Make loose that line, fast!
Hurra, boys! Hurra, boys! The crisis is past.

Never Take the Hind Shoe from a Mule

A story has come down from old Mathusalem,
I learned it when I was a boy in school.
You’ll make a great mistake and don’t forget it,
If you bother round the hind parts of a mule.

So never tickle a mule when he’s reposing,
If you disturb his slumber you’re a fool,
If you don’t want to visit the undertaker,
Never take the hind-shoe from a mule.

The business end of a mule is mighty ticklish,
Never, ever touch him as a rule,
He’ll kick you full of holes in seven seconds,
Trust him not, there’s mischief in a mule.


When you see the animals old an feeble,
Don’t you never handle him as a rule,
You’ll need a chest protector on your eyebrow,
They’ll lay you on a ton of ice to cool.


If you touch his caudal appendage, you’re a goner,
Asleep or awake you’ll find he’s not a fool,
Oh, you’ll think you were struck by seven kinds of lightning,
If you bother ‘round the hind parts of a mule.


A Trip on the Erie

You can talk of your picnics and trips on the lake,
But a trip on the Erie you bet takes the cake!
With the beef steak as tough as a fighting dog's neck,
And the flies playing tag with the cook on the deck.

Haul in your towlines and take in their slack
Take a reef in your britches and straighten your back,
Mind what I tell you and don't you forget
To tap the mules gently when the cook's on the deck.

Now the cook she's a daisy, she's dead gone on me,
With her fiery red head, and she's twice twenty-three,
She's knock-kneed and freckled, a dumpling and a pet
And we use her for a headlight at night on the deck.

So haul in your tow-line and take in your slack,
Take a reef in your britches and straighten your back.
Mind what I tell you and don’t you forget,
To tap the mules gently when the cook’s on the deck.

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