Song – Thinking Man, John Henry

WRITER

  • Bob Gibson
  • Bob Camp

PUBLISHER(S)

  • Robert Josiah Music

Song Licensing information

RECORDINGS BY OTHER ARTISTS

  • None

Song Notes

One-stop license for Gibson & Camp REVISITED available through Wixen Music.

LYRIC

Thinking Man, John Henry

(Spoken)
This is the story of an idiot

When John Henry was a little baby
He was sittin’ on his mommy’s knee
He picked up a slide rule and a book on mathematics
Sayin’, “Thinkin’s gonna be the job for me”
Said, “Thinkin’s gonna be the job for me”

(Spoken)
Yes, sir, when John Old Henry was just a little bitty baby
He was just a little thinker
He decided when grow’d he was gonna be a thinkin’ man
With a filter
So he went to school for it
Studied all about algebry and thinkin’
Geometry and thinkin’
Trigonometry and thinkin’
Calculus and thinkin’
Countin’
Had a little trouble with English, though

Grammer’s gonna be the death of me, Lord God
Grammer’s gonna be the death of me

(Spoken)
I’ll tell ya, Greek kinda threw him there too

Homer’s gonna be the death of me, Lord God
Homer’s gonna be the death of me
Jethro too

(Spoken)
Yes, sir, that’s what old John Henry did
Went to school and became a very, very competent thinker
Which is unusual
Went out into the business world where they do a lot of heavy thinkin’
And got a job as a thinkin’ man
For a while he was with the Chicago Tribune
Thinkin’ up thoughts for the day
Then for a time he had a job workin’ with the weather bureau
Thinkin’ up girls’ names for hurricanes
He was thinkin’ up a storm, I’ll tell ya
For a while he had a job with the Atomic Energy Commission
Thinkin’ up bombs
And for a while he had a job writin’ our comedy material
Thinkin’ up bombs
You know, for a while he was with the federal government
Thinkin’ up excuses
That’s a big job, I’ll tell ya
Well one day they brung an efficiency expert ‘round on the job
And he figured out John Henry’s fringe benefits
And he hollered out…automation

Well the expert said to John Henry
I’m gonna bring me a computer ‘round
I’m gonna bring me a computer and an IBM machine
Cybernetics gonna put the answer down
Computers help to keep the payroll down

Well now the man who invented the computer
Was from a place called M.I.T.
He punched out cards and tapes by the yards
Hummin’ nearer my God to thee
Hummin’ nearer my God to thee

Well then John Henry said to the inventor
He said, “Your tubes don’t mean a damn
All your wires and your circuits on the integer or two
Are never gonna beat a thinkin’ man
Are never gonna beat a thinkin’ man

(Spoken)
So it was proposed that John Henry and the computer have a race
The inventor punch out a card for the computer
John Henry stepped into the isolation booth
Ralph Edwards read him his question

John Henry started into thinkin’
Till his head glowed cherry red
There was smoke from his ears and his eyes poured tears
And he thunk till his brain dropped dead, think, thank, thunk
Thunk till his brain dropped dead

(Spoken)
And that’s the sad and awful fate of John Henry, the Thinkin’ Man
Who couldn’t stop thinkin’, killin’ him, twisted him all up

They took John Henry to the bughouse
But still his legend grows
Now no one’s ever heard
John Henry say a word
He’s just stittin’ there smilin’ like he knows

New words & music adaptation by Bob Gibson and Hamilton Camp
© Robert Josiah Music

Thinking Man, John Henry

by Gibson & Camp | Gate of Horn

Something about the song.

Thinking Man, John Henry

(Spoken)
This is the story of an idiot

When John Henry was a little baby
He was sittin’ on his mommy’s knee
He picked up a slide rule and a book on mathematics
Sayin’, “Thinkin’s gonna be the job for me”
Said, “Thinkin’s gonna be the job for me”

(Spoken)
Yes, sir, when John Old Henry was just a little bitty baby
He was just a little thinker
He decided when grow’d he was gonna be a thinkin’ man
With a filter
So he went to school for it
Studied all about algebry and thinkin’
Geometry and thinkin’
Trigonometry and thinkin’
Calculus and thinkin’
Countin’
Had a little trouble with English, though

Grammer’s gonna be the death of me, Lord God
Grammer’s gonna be the death of me

(Spoken)
I’ll tell ya, Greek kinda threw him there too

Homer’s gonna be the death of me, Lord God
Homer’s gonna be the death of me
Jethro too

(Spoken)
Yes, sir, that’s what old John Henry did
Went to school and became a very, very competent thinker
Which is unusual
Went out into the business world where they do a lot of heavy thinkin’
And got a job as a thinkin’ man
For a while he was with the Chicago Tribune
Thinkin’ up thoughts for the day
Then for a time he had a job workin’ with the weather bureau
Thinkin’ up girls’ names for hurricanes
He was thinkin’ up a storm, I’ll tell ya
For a while he had a job with the Atomic Energy Commission
Thinkin’ up bombs
And for a while he had a job writin’ our comedy material
Thinkin’ up bombs
You know, for a while he was with the federal government
Thinkin’ up excuses
That’s a big job, I’ll tell ya
Well one day they brung an efficiency expert ‘round on the job
And he figured out John Henry’s fringe benefits
And he hollered out…automation

Well the expert said to John Henry
I’m gonna bring me a computer ‘round
I’m gonna bring me a computer and an IBM machine
Cybernetics gonna put the answer down
Computers help to keep the payroll down

Well now the man who invented the computer
Was from a place called M.I.T.
He punched out cards and tapes by the yards
Hummin’ nearer my God to thee
Hummin’ nearer my God to thee

Well then John Henry said to the inventor
He said, “Your tubes don’t mean a damn
All your wires and your circuits on the integer or two
Are never gonna beat a thinkin’ man
Are never gonna beat a thinkin’ man

(Spoken)
So it was proposed that John Henry and the computer have a race
The inventor punch out a card for the computer
John Henry stepped into the isolation booth
Ralph Edwards read him his question

John Henry started into thinkin’
Till his head glowed cherry red
There was smoke from his ears and his eyes poured tears
And he thunk till his brain dropped dead, think, thank, thunk
Thunk till his brain dropped dead

(Spoken)
And that’s the sad and awful fate of John Henry, the Thinkin’ Man
Who couldn’t stop thinkin’, killin’ him, twisted him all up

They took John Henry to the bughouse
But still his legend grows
Now no one’s ever heard
John Henry say a word
He’s just stittin’ there smilin’ like he knows

New words & music adaptation by Bob Gibson and Hamilton Camp