Joe Jencks

Wheelbarrow Johnny

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


From the hills of Pennsylvane

Across the Ohio

As far as the southern bend

Of the muddy old Saint Joe

To build a home

A blacksmith and his family of nine

In the days we’ve come to know as forty-nine

Shoeing horses building wagons for the road

He taught his sons to build a wheelbarrow

Oh that wheelbarrow you're gonna roll

There's one in every crowd

Sown with the wild oats

And Johnny was the one

Who said he had to go

I'm leaving home

Well his pappy pleaded stay with us and work

And his momma cried you don't know what is worth

Sewing sixteen silver dollars in his belt

One for every year his youth could tell

Oh that wheelbarrow you're gonna roll

Chorus

And it's roll Johnny roll

Roll across the plains

And it's ride Johnny ride

Don't hold back on the reins

There's gold Johnny gold

Off in the Hangtown hills

And you'll sail home around Cape Horn

With your pockets lined with gold

He landed in the Promised Land

In what's now called Placerville

Though then it was known as Hangtown

For the dreams that it had killed

I miss my home

These city slickers don't know 'bout the land

They don't know how to work with their hands

Sifting for the gold through the sand

Gambling and stealing all they can

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

His fingers to the bone

His belly filled with stone

He never found the gold

He sold off all he owned

I'm heading home

You only own what you carry in your soul

And I'm carrying the weight of "told you so"

When this man said by chance you wouldn't know

How to build me a strong wheelbarrow

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

Before the first was done

Word had gotten 'round

He had to build one now

For every man in town

This ain't my home

But a friend is made fast with good work

Giving more than you promise in worth

The one place he never looked for the gold

He sold fifty thousand dollars worth of wheelbarrows

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

Now gold is where you find it

Before you know it's spent

And a windfall's like a rainfall

You don't know where it went

I'm working home

But a gambler's got to learn how to work

And a worker's got to gamble all he's worth

Now Johnny rides around with presidents

While you're still worrying how to pay the rent

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

Oh that wheelbarrow you're made of gold

© 1982 - Jack Hardy, Jack Hardy Music, BMI

updated: 6 months ago