Lyrical Connections

My ability to tune out sound is legendary, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that I just today noticed an interesting lyrical kinship. Doc Watson’s version of “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” contains the lines

Now, who’s gonna shoe your pretty little feet
Honey, who will glove your hand?
Who will kiss your red rosy cheeks?
Who’s gonna be your man?

She said Papa will shoe my pretty little feet,
And Mama will glove my hand,
You can kiss my red rosy cheeks
When you return again

which have virtually the same setup as (but a very different conclusion from) Leadbelly’s version of “John Henry” on Sings for Children (also on Last Sessions, Disc 2)

Baby who’s gonna shoe your little feet?
Tell me who’s gonna glove your hand?
Tell me who’s gonna kiss your sweet little lips?
Tell me who’s gonna be your man, lord, lord?
Tell me who’s gonna be your man?
Tell me who’s gonna be your man, lord, lord?
Tell me who’s gonna be your man?

My papa’s gonna shoe my little feet,
My mama’s gonna glove my hand,
My sister’s gonna kiss my sweet little lips
And you know I don’t need no man, lord, lord
You know I don’t need no man
And you know I don’t need no man, lord, lord
You know I don’t need no man

I’ve got the Doc Watson on a compilation called Live at Home, Vol 1 that I got as a premium from WPKN. My recollection is that these are recordings made by a WPKN member in 1963 and put on CD just for the radio station, so the clip below is not exactly what I’m hearing.

The Leadbelly is everywhere, though.
John Henry by Lead Belly on Grooveshark

Turns out, that larger minds than mine have noticed this — professionals, even — and this is what’s called a “floating verse”, with one of the common referents being I Truly Understand You Love Another Man.