Buy New
$30.90
Qty:1
  • List Price: $34.00
  • Save: $3.10 (9%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 3 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Long Steel Rail: The Rail... has been added to your Cart
Trade in your item
Get a $2.00
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong (2d ed.) (Music in American Life) Paperback – April 17, 2000


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$30.90
$30.90 $18.53
$30.90 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Frequently Bought Together

Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong (2d ed.) (Music in American Life) + The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing and Other Songs Cowboys Sing (Music in American Life)
Price for both: $64.68

One of these items ships sooner than the other.

Buy the selected items together

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Series: Music in American Life
  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 2 Sub edition (April 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252068815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252068812
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #881,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Norm Cohen's anthology of railroad folksongs will delight anyone smitten with the romance of the rails." Newsday "A masterpiece." American Music "Meticulously researched and clearly written, Long Steel Rail is now the sourcebook for American railroad folksongs." New York Folklore "A delightfully readable book for any armchair railroad engineer." -- Choice "Norm Cohen has not only filled a gap, he has applied mature scholarship, historical sensibility, enthusiasm, and love to produce a major work on folk lore, folk song, and the railroads' pervasive impact on popular culture." Railroad History "People looking for information about early recordings of railroad songs from both Anglo-American and African American traditions will want to use this 710-page book as a primary resource. Cohen has demonstrated exceptional skills as a researcher, bibliographer, and discographer... Folklorists and American music researchers ... should be delighted that this classic work with updated citations, references, and historical information is once again available." Arkansas Review

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
5
4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 5 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By WILLIAM H FULLER on January 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
While humming "The Wabash Cannonball," which remains a popular tune even today, have you ever wondered about the phrase "She's the wondrous combination called the Wabash Cannonball"? What in the world does "combination" mean? Apparently, it means nothing more than that someone (who may have been more familiar with songs than with railroads) misunderstood the meaning of the original words and wrote down the wrong word! Does it help to know that a very early version of the song went "She's the bo's [hobos'] accommodation called the Wabash Cannonball"? The train "accommodated" hobos by providing free, albeit unauthorized, transportation and at least temporary shelter from the elements. The song also derives from an even earlier one called "The Great Rock Island Route," has a number of mythical elements in the style of the Paul Bunyan legends, and speaks of "Daddy Claxton," who has yet to be identified with any historical character and who appears in other versions as Boston Blackey and even Long Slim Perkins!
The evolution of folksongs and their many variants is a fascinating study. Add to this the lure of the railroad, put it all together in a study of dozens of such songs, mix in a healthy dose of scholarly research, and we have Cohen's book. It is not a casual read, but it is invaluable for research into practically every American folksong involving railroads.
For everyone interested in the human aspects of railroad history, in railroad folklore, or in the evolution of the American folksong, this book is well worth the purchase price. That it is back in print and again readily available is a godsend to folklorists, musicologists, and railfans. If you missed the first printing, don't miss this one! Also, while you're browsing here, check out Katie Letcher Lyle's "Scalded to Death by the Steam," a highly readable examination of Appalachian songs inspired by disasters on the railroad.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By W. Fortney on September 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Once again I find myself astonished and delighted that a subject one might have thought too insubstantial to merit more than an article in an obscure scholarly journal has, in fact, attracted a writer to produce a thoughtful, interesting, and thorough treatise for the general public. Anyone with any interest in American folk or popular music has probably long ago made LONG STEEL RAIL part of her library, but those whose interests are more casual or general would do well to do so also. Mr. Cohen neatly weaves his narrative of railroad song into the broader fabric of American history, so that his reader can easily appreciate how such songs reflect the changing concerns, fears, and values of our society. The stories of many of the songs are fascinating in their own right: for example, the litigation over rights to "The Wreck of the Old 97", the mixed origin of "Casey Jones", the pluck and luck of Elizabeth Cotten, composer of the ever popular "Freight Train".

The accompanying discography and bibliography are as remarkable for their completeness as for their accuracy.

This book is a rare gem. I recommend it to any who have a passion for America or for folk music (in the broadest sense of the phrase).
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Janet Smith on March 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
I volunteered to present a program on railroad songs for our local Railpark Museum. In looking for information about the songs, I discovered Norm Cohen's book "Long Steel Rail." This is a valuable, scholarly, well-researched book about railroad songs. Cohen has included many versions of the same song, and has included a great deal of information on the background of these songs. I found it invaluable in my research for my talk. Anyone looking for information about the history of railroad songs, original performers of the songs, and the many different versions of songs will find it here. Music and some photos are also included. Many of the CD liners that discussed the songs on their particular CD cited Norm Cohen's book as the source.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Corl on January 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best book I know of regarding railroad songs. The author is concerned with textual variants and transmission, performance & recording histories, as well as providing thumbnail sketches of some of the major musicians. Railroad history is also of course a major theme. Photos of early sheet music abound.

My only criticisms: 1) the binding is a little weak for as big and thick as the book is, and 2)this revised edition (which basically updates the discography, but also includes addendums makes based on new findings) is not collated into the original text, but is gathered together at the beginning, making it a little difficult to keep track. Both of these problems are the publisher's responsibility, as I see it, not the author's.

This book will remain a standard classic in this field.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Mac on November 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent book that I didn't know about until a friend recently told me about it. It is on a subject that interests me. I have been fascinated by railroads as long as I can remember(since the 1930s) and discovered folk songs in college, with a special interest in those about railroads. This book extended my knowledge of the subject, and my previous knowledge about railroads confirmed the accuracy of much of the information in the book.

It arrived promptly and in better than described condition.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again