Low Bridge Everybody Down Cover

Low Bridge Everybody Down Sheet Music Cover (PDF)

Erie Canal Song by Thomas S. Allen

The Erie Canal Song, as it is commonly known by today, was written in 1905 under the title Low Bridge, Everybody Down about life on the Erie Canal. In addition to the The Erie Canal Song and Low Bridge, Everybody Down titles, the song has also been referred to by the following names over the years: Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal, Mule Named Sal and Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal. Around 1905 mule powered barge traffic had converted to steam power and diesel power was about to take over. The Erie Canal Song was written to commemorate the history of nearly 100 years of life along the Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal Song is the most recognised of all the Erie Canal folksongs. A pdf of the song with notes for guitar and piano can be found here. Its interesting to note that the cover depicts a boy riding a mule leaned down to fit under a bridge, but in actuality the song is about the people in the boats. Travelers would typically ride on the roof of boats when the conditions allowed, but the low bridges along the route would require that they either duck down or get off the roof to fit under bridges.

Lyric Variations

Like most folk songs, the lyrics (and title!) of The Erie Canal Song has changed over time. The most obvious changes from Thomas Allen's orignal version has been changing the word years to miles. Allen's original version commerates 15 years of working along the canal with Sal. The new version using the word miles refers to the average distance a mule would tow a barge before resting or being relieved by another mule.

Another change is in the second verse. The current line: "Git up there mule, here comes a lock" is a change from the original line: "Get up there gal, we've passed that lock". The current version does not necessary make as much sense as the former. The former refers to how mules would rest while waiting for barges to lock through, and then need to be instructed when to start again. The current implies speeding up when a lock is within site. Without breaks or a simple way to slow a barge, this would not necessarly be the best course of action.

A great recording of The Erie Canal Song
by Bruce Springsteen.

Audio Versions Available:

1.) Billy Murray (1912) click here.
2.) Edward Meeker (1913) click here.
(right click and 'save as' if necessary)

The Erie Canal Song Lyrics

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 every inch of the way we know
From Albany to Buffalo

Chorus:
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge for we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal

We'd better look 'round for a job old gal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
'Cause you bet your life I'd never part with Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
Git up there mule, here comes a lock
We'll make Rome 'bout six o'clock
One more trip and back we'll go
Right back home to Buffalo

Chorus

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

Chorus

Don't have to call when I want my Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She trots from her stall like a good old gal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
I eat my meals with Sal each day
I eat beef and she eats hay
And she ain't so slow if you want to know
She put the "Buff" in Buffalo

Chorus

Author Information

Thomas S. Allen (1876-1919) was an early Tin Pan Alley composer with many popular songs not related to the canal life. His first major hit was Any Rags in 1903, only two years before that of the Erie Canal Song.



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