The Brothers Four

"The thinking man, John Henry"

Now a famous American folktale
When John Henry was a little baby
He was sittin’ on his mammy’s knee
Well He picked up a slide rule and a book on mathematics
Sayin’, “Thinkin’s gonna be the job for me”
Sayin’, “Thinkin’s gonna be the job for me”
When John Henry was just a little baby
He decided when grew he was gonna be a thinkin’ man
With a filter
So he decided to go to college
And study all about thinkin’
He did and he learned all about
Algebry and thinkin’
Geometry and thinkin’
Trigonometry and thinkin’
Calculus and thinkin’
He always had trouble with English, though
Grammer’s gonna be the death of me, Lord Lord
Grammer’s gonna be the death of me
He didn’t do too well in Greek either
Homer’s gonna be the death of me, Lord Lord
Homer’s gonna be the death of me
Well John Henry finished college and became a very competent thinker
Which is unusual
And he went out into the business world where they do a lot of heavy thinkin’ and got a job as a thinkin’ man
Well this first job was with the John Burch Society
Thinkin’ up communists
He had a little trouble with his next job though
That was with the Ford Motor company, ha ha
He thought up the ETSO
Then John Henry got a job with the CIA
Thinkin’ up excuses
As you all know, the government is very economy minded
Concerned with cuttin’ down on costs
So one day, the CIA brought in an efficiency expert
Tryin’ to cut down on man power
He looked around and hollered out
“Automation!”
“Automation!”
“Automation!”
Now the experts said to John henry
I’m gonna’ to bring me a computer ‘round
I’m gonna’ to bring me a computer and electronic brain
Cybernetics’ gonna’ put the answer down
Computers help to keep the pay roll down
Now the man who invented the computer
Was from a place called MIT
Well he punched out cards
And tapes by the yards
On the nearer, my God to thee
On the nearer, my God to thee
Now John Henry said to the inventor
“Oh your tubes don’t mean a damn
All your wires and your circuits
They are just a modern quirk
It’s never ever gonna beat a thinkin’ man
They are never gonna beat the thinkin’ man
So it was proposed that John Henry and the computer have a race
The inventor punched out a card for the computer
John Henry stepped into the isolation booth
Ralph Edwards read him a question
And the race was on
John Henry started a thinkin’
Til’ his head glowed cherry red
There was smoke from his ears and his eyes poured tears
And he thunk til’ his brain dropped dead
Think, thank, thunk
Thunk til’ his brain dropped dead
They took John Henry to the bughouse
But still his legend grows
Now please don’t get us wrong
There’s a moral to this song
Don’t ever doubt the thinkin’ power of men
But, on the other hand
Don’t ever sell your stock in IBM
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