Hobo Jungle Rap

Lyrics: Ron McKernan
Music: Ron McKernan

One of the songs recorded by Pigpen for an unreleased solo album. The Deadhead's Taping Compendium says:

"The folk motif continues with "Hobo Jungle Rap," a simple one-chord monologue in which Pigpen describes his first encounters with local hobos. After dissolving quickly as a song, the monologue continues as a spoken word narration. In it, Pigpen talks briefly about his first experiences hopping freight trains, adding a sweet lick from his guitar here and there. Much to our dismay, however, the tape breaks off prematurely."
Lyrics (first part spoken with guitar backing; second part no guitar except for the occasional lick):
You know, one time, I was about twelve years old
I was living on what the people used to say was the wrong side of the tracks
Didn't have no sidewalks
And I had to walk across the tracks to get to the fancy part of town, to my school
Now and then on the tracks, where they used the secondary, down by the end of my street
If you want to call it a street, it was an old hobo jungle
And them hobos, they used to sit down there
And everybody run, you know, they knew that they was down there
But nobody living around, nobody living around there who said no, never mind about it being down
[unintelligible passage]
Get twenty five cents for a bottle of wine
Go back to the hobo jungle
Sit down, piece of cardboard on the ground
With a little old, little old milk can, with a hole cut in it
I think of the little stove and eat

'Cause you know I can remember, when I was just a child
Not too old, not too young, you know
Twelve or forteen years of age, I would be down there
I'd be down in the jungle
Down the end of my street they had a hobo jungle, you understand
The hobos would be down there
Sitting round, and drinking wine
Waiting for the right train they wanted to get
But you know during that time, they'd be coming up to the house and saying
You know, you know, ma'am, can I do some gardening work for you
But we didn't have much of a garden, we didn't have no sidewalks on the street
In our whole street, no sidewalk area
And they'd be coming round, so I used to go down, hang around for a while
Be sitting up on them piece of cardboard, you know, stuff
And wrapped up in cardboard and newspapers and that
Be missing for ages, you know, hanging round waiting for the right train
And the folks living round, they didn't cause no trouble
They didn't care, the hobos didn't cause no trouble
So I'd be going down there, and starting to talk about them
What about the trains, you know, how are them trains doing
How can you tell what train to get on
And they said well you just get that train
You get the feeling that that's the right train you want to get on
Now you get down the separator [?]
Now San Jose, some place like that
Then you just jump off, and you wait around
And you get one of them [bo's] running round there
I say, man, you know, what train is going to Santa Fe
They say, hey, listen, they're making up a train now
And it's over on track seventeen
And you just go over there, and they got a couple of extras over there
It's like it's empty, and you just go down and get in
And the hobos just talking all this kind of stuff and everything
And I begin to ask them, I was just a little child
I was like just a little child, I was going to see what they was doing
To find out how you do all this business
How do you get inrto it, how do you know where to go
And one old guy, he tell me, hey boy
He said, boy, you just get on that train, and what you get, you get
And that's it
Some other guy, well he say, yeah, you ask the man in the yard
If he's cool then, you know, he'll put you on the right train
But if he's something else, he'll put you on the wrong train
And then you'll get the man on you
But that freight train business started going on, and I started talking about it
That's the thing about the freight train after a while
Hard to figure out, try riding that train just a little bit
Everybody's always writing songs about the bumpity-bumpity, clickety-clack of the freight train
But ain't nobody written nothing, I don't think, at least I don't know
I just been thinking about it
I don't think anybody wrote nothing about what you do when you're hanging around in the jungle
Hoping the train you grab when it come by is the right one
If you want to get where you're going
So, you know, you can sit around, but you always got that thing
You never know if it's the right train or not


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