The Carter Songbook
The Carter Songbook Songs: Single Girl, Married GirlEngine One-Forty-ThreeWorried Man BluesGold Watch and Chain
Maybelle Addington, A.P. Carter and Sara Carter. Circa early 1930's.

Listen to Engine One-Forty-Three performed by Johnny Cash. (3:38)

Audio courtesy of Dualtone Music Group, Inc.


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Sara Dougherty was singing Engine One-Forty-Three when A.P. heard her beautiful voice. Fifteen years later, A.P. convinced Sara to perform the number again during their 1929 sessions in Camden, New Jersey, with Ralph Peer. At the age of ten, Maybelle's daughter June Carter would play this tune for a nationwide radio audience.

Engine One-Forty-Three

Along came the FFV the swiftest on the line,
Running o'er the C&O road just twenty minutes behind,
Running into Cevile, head porters on the line,
Receiving their strict orders from a station just behind.

Georgie's mother came to him with a bucket on her arm,
Saying, "My darling son be careful how you run.
For many a man has lost his life in trying to make lost time,
And if you run your engine right you'll get there just on time."

Up the road he darted, against the rocks he crushed,
Upside down the engine turned and Georgie's breast did smash.
His head was against the firebox door, the flames are rolling high,
"I'm glad I was born an engineer on the C&O road to die."

The doctor said to Georgie, "My darling boy, be still,
Your life may yet be saved if it is God's blessed will."
"Oh no," said George, "that will not do -- I want to die so free,
I want to die for the engine I love, one hundred and forty three."

The doctor said to Georgie, "Your life cannot be saved."
Murdered upon the railroad and laid in a lonesome grave,
His face was covered up with blood, his eyes they could not see,
And the very last words poor Georgie said was, "Nearer, my God, to thee."



The Carter Family American Experience PBS