Monkey And The Engineer

Lyrics: Jesse Fuller
Music: Jesse Fuller

Once upon a time there was an engineer
Drove a locomotive both far and near
Accompanied by a monkey who would sit on a stool
Watching everything the engineer would move

One day the engineer wanted a bite to eat
He left the monkey sitting on the driver's seat
The monkey pulled the throttle, locomotive jumped the gun
Doing ninety miles an hour down the mainline run

Big locomotive right on time
Big locomotive coming down the line
Big locomotive number ninety nine
Left the engineer with a worried mind

The engineer called up the despatcher on the phone
Tell him all about his locomotive was gone
Get on the wire, switch operator to right
'Cause the monkey's got the mainline sewed up tight

Switch operator got the message in time
Said there's a northbound limit on the same mainline (note 1)
Open up the switch, I'm gonna let it through the hole
'Cause the monkey's got the locomotive under control

(1) I had thought this was "there's a northbound livin' on the same mainline" but John Krulish pointed out to me that it sounds as if Bob Weir sings "limit" - most clearly on the Mother Mcree version.

Grateful Dead and Related Recordings
     Date Album
      Jul 1964 Mother Mcree's Uptown Jug Champions
     31 Dec 1970 Download Series: A Night At The Family Dog
     27 Oct 1980 Reckoning
     23 Oct 1980 Reckoning (note 2)

Recordings from Tapers Section

(1) additional version issued as a bonus track in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)

Futher Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see


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