Long Steel Rail

The Railroad in American Folksong (2d ed.)
Author: Norm Cohen
The largest, most authoritative source on railroad folksong
Paper – $36
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/2000
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About the Book

Impeccable scholarship and lavish illustration mark this landmark study of American railroad folksong. Norm Cohen provides a sweeping discussion of the human aspects of railroad history, railroad folklore, and the evolution of the American folksong. The heart of the book is a detailed analysis of eighty-five songs, from "John Henry" and "The Wabash Cannonball" to "Hell-Bound Train" and "Casey Jones," with their music, sources, history, variations, and discographies. A substantial new introduction updates this edition.

About the Author

Norm Cohen worked for the Chemical Kinetics Department at the Aerospace Corporation in Los Angeles. His books include American Folk Songs: A Regional Encyclopedia. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son and teaches chemistry and folk music part time.


"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

"Norm Cohen has not only filled a gap; he has applied mature scholarship, historical sensibility, enthusiasm, and love to produce a major work on folklore, folk song, and the railroads' pervasive impact on popular culture."--Railroad History"A delightfully readable book for any armchair railroad engineer."--Choice


Winner of an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, 1982.