by Lew Sully
I started on a journey just about a week ago
To the little town of Morrow in the state of Ohio.
I never was a traveler and really did not know
That Morrow was the hardest place I’d ever try to go.*
I went down to the depot for my ticket and applied
For tips regarding Morrow, not expecting to be guyed.
Said I, “My friend, I want to go to Morrow and return
Not later than tomorrow, for I haven’t time to burn.”
Said he to me, “Now, let me see if I have heard you right,
You want to go to Morrow and come back tomorrow night.
To go from here to Morrow and return is quite a way,
You should have gone to Morrow yesterday and back today.
For if you started yesterday to Morrow, don’t you see,
You could have gone to Morrow and returned today at three.
The train that started yesterday, now understand me right,
Today gets to Morrow and returns tomorrow night.”
Said I, “My friend, it seems to me you’re talking through your hat.
Is there a town named Morrow on your line, now tell me that.”
“There is,” says he, “and take from me a quiet little tip:
To get from here to Morrow is a fourteen hour trip.
The train that goes to Morrow leaves today [at] eight thirty-five,
Half after ten tomorrow is the time it should arrive;
Now if from here to Morrow is a fourteen hour jump,
How can you go to Morrow** and get back today, you chump?”
Says I, “I want to go to Morrow, can I go today
And get to Morrow by tonight if there is no delay?”
“Well, well,” says he, “explain to me, and I’ve no more to say,
How can you go tomorrow and get back to town today?***
For if today you start to Morrow, it’s a cinch you’ll land
Tomorrow into Morrow, not today, you understand.
For the train today to Morrow, if the schedule is right,
It will get you into Morrow by about tomorrow night.”
Says I, “I guess you know it all, but kindly let me say,
How can I go to Morrow if I leave the town today?”
He says, “You cannot go to Morrow any more today,
For the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way.”
I was so disappointed, I was mad enough to swear,
The train had gone to Morrow and left me standing there.
The man was right in telling me I was a howling jay,
I didn’t go to Morrow, so I guess I’ll go today.
* Dean: “That Morrow had been ridiculed a century or so.” The text given is that usually sung.
** Dean: “Can you go today to Morrow.”
*** Dean: “How can you go anywhere tomorrow and get back today?” I find Dean’s text impossible to sing, so this is what I use instead.
(Click here for a PDF version of the music) * (Play MP3 instrumental)
Written by Lew Sully and published in 1898. (Some sources list the music as by Geoffrey O’Hara.) It is not absolutely clear whether the song refers to Morrow, Ohio, or Morrowville, Kansas. The song refers to Ohio — but, supposedly, this exactly plot happened with reference to the town in Kansas in 1896. Morrow, Kansas was named for its founder Cal Morrow — then was renamed in 1896 because railroad agents were getting too many orders for “a ticket to Morrow.”
The song was recorded repeatedly at the start of the twentieth century; Dean probably learned it from one of those recordings.
Source: The text is as given by Dean, except as noted. I’ve made several un-noted changes in the punctuation.
The lyrics specifically say “in the state of Ohio.”
The fact that the lyrics of Dean’s version refer to “the state of Ohio” means very little. Dean learned the song in oral tradition, and oral tradition changes things. In any case, even if the song always referred to Ohio, the event could have happened elsewhere and Lew Sully could have looked in an atlas and found Morrow, Ohio and assumed it was the place.