John Hardy (song)
"John Hardy" is a traditional American folk song based on the life of a railroad worker in West Virginia. The historical John Hardy killed a man during a craps game, was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and was hanged on January 19, 1894.
The song has been performed by Roscoe Holcomb, Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter), the Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Joel Fafard, Tommy Jarrell, Frank Fairfield, the Kingston Trio (who called it "Getaway John"), Manfred Mann, Bob Dylan, The String Cheese Incident, Silver Apples, Uncle Tupelo, The Gun Club, George Thorogood, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie (who called the song "Johnny Hart"), Knutna Nävar (Swedish communist band who changed it to "Strejken på Arendal"), Jerry Reed, Joan Baez, Tony Rice, Betsy Rutherford, Bill Frisell (both as a solo artist and with Petra Haden), David Nelson Band, Chris Smither, Martin Simpson, Buell Kazee, Burl Ives, Hugo Race and The True Spirit, banjo player Dock Boggs, Clarence "Tom" Ashley, and Austin singer/songwriter Michael Fracasso The most recent use in a media recording was performed by Bill Milsap & Abigail Moore among others in the 2008 Film " The Last One" based on the life of Moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton set in the Appalachian Mountains.
The first known recording is by Eva Davis on Columbia Records in 1924. As with other folk songs, lyrics change from version to version.
Early folk historians confused the ballads of John Hardy and John Henry. This led to a mixing of stories related to the outlaw and the steel driver. Investigation into the John Henry myth helped separate these figures.
See also 
- "Stagger Lee", another standard folk ballad of a gambler-turned-murderer.
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