Appalachia Music

Bringing in That Georgia Mail

Freight Train

For today’s Pickin and Grinnin in the Kitchen Spot I’m sharing another video from our Month of the Train Series over on our Youtube Channel. I’ll let Paul give you the details.


I teamed up with a musician friend of mine, Jamie Mason, for this week’s train song, one about a daredevil mail delivery. Jamie was nice enough to meet me at the school on his day off, on a day when the rain absolutely poured all day. For this video, we stuck to our one-take rule. We had both heard the song, albeit different versions. I left about a 6-8 beat gap before the start of the second verse while I tried to remember the words.

When I asked Jamie if he would shoot a video with me, my thought was of his great picking ability. When we got ready to turn the camera on, he asked me if I’d mind if he sang tenor on the last line of each verse. I told him to go right ahead. That turned out to be my favorite aspect of the whole performance and reminded me that he’s also a talented vocalist. His harmony was great!

I’ve known Jamie for probably 15 years or so, but this is probably only the 3rd or 4th time that we’ve jammed together. I knew his dad first, way back when he used to work for the police department and carried out some anti-drug education for the schools in our county.

Here’s a neat little full-circle story: One day a few years ago, when I ran into Jamie, he said, “I’ve got the perfect song that you and your family should learn.” I said, great! And I accepted an invitation from him to play at a community jam down at the Culberson Community Center. When I walked in, Jamie, his dad, and some of their friends were singing and playing, “Twilight is Stealing.” This turned out to be the song that Jamie suggested we learn. I told him, “That’s a great song. We already do it.” I then learned that Jamie had learned it from his dad, and I learned that his dad had learned it from us via a video that we had posted on the Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube channel. 🙂

You can find quite a few other videos of Jamie on YouTube if you search. In several, he is playing with Raven Welch, one of the most well-known and accomplished female musicians in our area. Here’s a link to a really nice one:…

In terms of this train song, I’ve always loved some of the almost comical lyrics that describe the speed of the train, like “ought to put that engineer in jail” and “stoke the fire and hope the brakes don’t fail.” 🙂 The full lyrics are below.

I had to research the meaning of “ball the jack.” Sometimes as a kid, I heard Pap and other elders describe something moving fast as “ballin’ jack.” According to Wikipedia, the Jack is the locomotive, and train workers used a system involving balls that were raised in different positions to show the measured speed. The higher the ball was positioned, the faster the train was going. For an engineer to “ball the jack” meant to drive it at full speed.

Hope you enjoy this train song, and I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends, even if you’re in another country where you perhaps don’t celebrate this American Holiday.

“See the engine puffing; watch her make the time. That o’le train’s rolling off the rail, rail, rail. Headin’ for the mountain that she’s got to climb. Bringing in that Georgia mail!

90 miles and hour, and she’s gaining speed. Listen to the whistle moan and wail, wail, wail. Has she got the power? I’ll say, yes indeed! Bringing in that Georgia mail!

Watch the drivers travel; watch her spin the track. Ought to put that engineer in jail, jail, jail. Has he got her rollin’? Watch her ball the jack. Bringing in that Georgia mail!

Rockin’ and a reelin’, spoutin’ off the steam. Stoke the fire and hope the brakes won’t fail, fail, fail. Servin’ all the people, listen to her scream! Bringing in that Georgia mail!”

Hope you enjoyed Paul and Jamie’s version of “Bringing in That Georgia Mail.”


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  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    November 29, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Wow, good one ! You’re right, Paul, the harmony was great.

  • Reply
    Jane W Bolden
    November 26, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Good toe -tapper!!!

  • Reply
    Phyllis Schmitz
    November 25, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    Bringing in that Georgia Mail was wonderful!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks for posting this on the blog. When I was looking up the meaning of “ball the jack,” I learned that there was a very popular song and dance in 1913 called “Balling the Jack!” Now Kenneth R has me wondering what “Fuzeies” are. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 25, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    When we lived in Atlanta in the early 70’s, we’d designate Thursday night around 8 or 9 to watch Johnny Cash’s Program. He had a segment on Trains and some songs that he sung were about Trains and we just loved it

    I’ve hoboed that Train many times to get Fuzezies from the Caboose man that ran on those tracks,
    it stopped in Topton to check the brakes before heading into the Nantahala Gorge. We wanted those Fuzeies holding up the Caboose windows and if we could find ’em, more. There was about 8
    of us boys, so it was useless for the Caboose Man to shew us all off. Those Fuzeies were to get Jacket and Hornet nests, so we could go fishing. Love those Train Songs. …Ken

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    November 25, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Can’t tell ya’ how much I enjoyed watching y’all do that song Paul! It was great!

  • Reply
    Tom Deep
    November 25, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    What fun Tipper, certainly enjoyed the song. Paul did a great job.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Hi Tipper,Mighty good guys,mighty good !!God Bless.Belva-Jean

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    November 25, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Good job, they sounded great! I really enjoyed it! The guy in the background seemed to enjoy it as well!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    November 25, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Loved the music and watching the boy in the background nodding time. Really enjoyed Jamie’s picking and harmony and of course Paul was just being Paul – great stuff.

    I didn’t know where Culberson was so looked it up. Instead of Manteo to Murphy, maybe it ought to be from Currituck Sound to Culberson.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 25, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I love the toe tapping in the background! Good job!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2018 at 8:38 am

    I agree, that was a really good train song. My toes were tapping right away, and like Don, I noticed the young man in the background was keeping time with his foot too. Brought a smile to my face. Where I grew up the old North Shore ran from Chicago to Milwaukee and after that one stopped, we had the Northwestern on the other side of town that ran from Milwaukee to Chicago. Our town was between both of these and as a young girl drifting off to sleep at night I could just barely hear the soft sound of the train coming through at night. Where I live now, there is a train track about a mile from us and sometimes I can hear that at night. Just takes me back to my childhood. As usual, you did an outstanding job on the singing and picking and so did your friend.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 25, 2018 at 8:24 am

    I heard that expression “ballin’ the jack”, meaning to go in a tearin’ hurry, when I was growing up but had no idea of the derivation. It has been a very long time since I heard it.

    Btw, for the railroad buffs the East Tennessee Historical Society in Knoxville has a Christmas ornament for 2018 that is a replica of the L & N RR logo. It is copied from a stained glass window in the old depot in Knoxville.

    Sorry I cannot hear the song. Sometimes I can, other times I can’t.

  • Reply
    Don T.
    November 25, 2018 at 6:57 am

    That was a “good un”. I’m a fan of train songs myself. I couldn’t help but notice the young fellow sitting at the table in the background. He was definitely feeling the rhythm keeping time with his foot throughout the song.
    BTW, been enjoying the Fred Chappell book you gave away last week.
    Thanks again.

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