Appalachia Music

I’m Working On A Building

Working on a building

Chatter, Pap, and Paul have been fooling around with the old song Working on a Building for the past few weeks-if you were at fall festival you might have heard them do it there.

Over the years many people have covered the song: The Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Jimmie Davis, Old & in the Way, others, and too many local performers to name. I grew up hearing the song but can’t remember who I heard sing it first-most likely a local group.

The song is generally said to be a traditional song-meaning no one knows who actually penned it. It is often listed as a Negro Spiritual. And as many songs of that age-the actual lyrics vary depending on who’s singing it…or in our case what day we’re singing it.

To add to the confusion there is another song with a similar title and a similar tune: Working on the Building written by Lillian M Bowles. You can hear a version of the Bowles song performed by none other than Elvis here.

Its easy to see why the song we do-Working on a Building has continued to be popular in southern gospel and bluegrass gospel circles after so many years. The words are repetitive and catchy with the tune being a real toe tapper.



Hope you enjoyed the song! Chatter and Chitter have found it very entertaining to make up their own verses to the song. Things like if I was a crystal meth cooker I’d tell you what I’d do I’d quit my cooking and I’d work on a building too or if I was a robber I’d tell you what I’d do I’d give the money back and I’d work on the building too. Life is never dull with them two.


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  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    May 2, 2021 at 9:22 am

    Thoroughly enjoyed older “Working on a Building” post, the singing as well as the comments, one of which was made by Mary Lou McKillip. talking about Lowell Blanchard and the show, Midday Merry Go Round. This show was broadcast from an old theater on North Gay Street in Knoxville, Tennessee in the 50s. As kids, we would often go there – for the shows and the music. It was the first time I saw June Carter. who even then was an accomplished performer and comedy act. Never as much a singer as her Sis Anita, but totally entertaining non the less. Thanks.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    LOL now that was funny! I wish I could have seen their faces as they pleaded with you not to do it : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 20, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Tipper I sang this song for tent meeting when I was five years old and I stood by a coffin and sang it for this man. He loved to hear me sing working on a building. Mother and big brother took me when I was younger than five to the mid day merry go around. I wanted to get on stage and sing the song for my daddy back home listen to the radio and the mid day merry go around with Loyal Blanchard, Archie Campbell and Grandpa Jones. Loyal said this baby girl wants to send her daddy a song who is listen to the mid day merry go around it was working On a Building.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    October 19, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Great job!!!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Such good family fun! I really enjoyed listening to the song and the music. I wonder, however, what the true meaning of the song might have been – the reason it was written in its true form.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    O my! Paul can forevermore lay the plectrum to that Gibson, can he not?
    Beautifully done; Bill Monroe did no better!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Reckon Chatter could trade her guitar in on one with a gum holder?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Well, Tipper, I have to agree with you 100% or maybe 150% in that last statement you made. Life is never dull with your girls around!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    October 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    This is the best one yet ! I love it when all ya’ll play music.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Great song! You all are Blessed with talent.
    My husband sings an old song, “This old House”…..similar in theme written by Gov of LA Jimmy Davis. I met him once near the end of his career at a BibleTones concert. He was an interesting man to say the least.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    October 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Great job on the song. Enjoyed listening.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I just loved song with the gang and the harmony was great. I loved the smiles between them while singing. They knew they were getting it all right with that song!
    When we went up to the mountains yesterday, we heard The LeFevre’s Quartet sing at the Dollywood Gospel and Harvest festival. My grandchildren loved hearing the example they sang of the old way gospel music was sung with just blending voices and piano! Of course for fun the LeFevre’s emphasized their high tenor singer and then the deep bass voice singer…
    I enjoyed this post Tipper…
    PS…This, I thought, was a funny bad prank!…
    After we were looking up in the sky and watching the people on the “scary Zip Line” a second, I walked up to the Zip Line Booth and hollered at Roy and the kids, (they were in front of me) I said ” HEY WAIT, I’M GOING TO RIDE THIS!”…I was driving one of those handicap carts (bad hip), both kids came running and screamed in unison, a fearsome cry…
    “NO, NO MAMMAW, YOU CAN’T RIDE THAT!”…The lady at the booth played along, “Sure she can, we just hook the cart onto the wire and she’ll just slide right across the top of the park!”….LOL…We all had a good laugh, as we walked away…My grandchildren, always looking out for me said, “We thought you were really going to try and ride it”! They know I’ll try about anything, even at my age!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    October 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

    A fun song, well done. I enjoyed the point where Chatter looked over at Pap and the two grinned at each other. A grandfather and granddaughter smile for sure, but also that of joy of making good music together.
    Pap’s heart must be busting with pride (not to mention that of the Brasstown Angel, just off camera, and her Uncle Paul the Picker).

  • Reply
    Mark McDowell
    October 19, 2014 at 7:59 am

    What a wonderful song to wake up to this Sunday morn. Now it’s time for me to go “Working on a Building”.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    October 19, 2014 at 7:58 am

    It is a great toe tapping tune and they sound great!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2014 at 7:03 am

    I seen them on the Tube.. They did a really good job on the song.. The Girls rewrite versions are funny.. but would help them folks….

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