15 Years on the Erie Canal

Sometimes I get the oddest song randomly get stuck in my head. Often the only way for me to remove such an earworm is to play the song, maybe even a couple of times, and then my brain releases it. However, if I have a very specific song stuck in my head I usually want to hear that exact rendition of it to get it out. Sometimes that isn’t always possible and in such cases I’m left feeling sad and disappointed, and the earworm is still in my brain torturing me.

Today is just such a situation. I can’t locate the song, easily, anywhere.  The unfortunate fact is this song is already old and not commonly found. Worse yet, the version in my head is from a children’s album I had as a wee one. Fortunately, I still have the album. Unfortunately, we do not currently have a turntable hooked up. I used to play that album continuously as a child and it included some peculiar songs, such as this one.

When I first looked up the song I was terribly disappointed at what I found on YouTube. Then I found this version, and while not really the version I wanted, still a decent version and thus I share it with you.

This song was originally written in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen. It’s written about an era when barges were pulled by mules. As a child I don’t think I fully understood that. I mean to me, back then, a barge was a large vessel and one mule pulling it wouldn’t have made sense. Remember, I was only about 5 years old at the time.

So as these barges were being pulled down the Erie canal they would come across these low bridges. Again, I didn’t understand why the bridges were so low, only that people needed to get down for fear of getting brained by a bridge. I guess sometimes there would be passengers on the barges and they would stand up top, but if they came to a low bridge everyone would have to duck or lie down to safely travel under them, as would the person on the mule. My thought… get off the damn mule! I mean, it’s already got a heavy enough load with a barge full of product and people, it certainly didn’t need the added burden of one more person, use your own legs for gosh sakes!

Anyway, here’s the song, or at least a good rendition of it…


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