Les trains, les vagabonds des trains qu’étaient les hobos, autant de thèmes classiques de la chanson folk du XXe siècle que Jimmie Rodgers a su illustrer. Ainsi dans son Hobo Bill’s Last Ride, où le héros, Bill le vagabond, meurt solitaire et sans famille à l’issue de son dernier voyage.

Pour cette chanson, Jimmie Rodgers limite son traditionnel « yodel » à l’énoncé du nom de son personnage.


Ho -oh oh bo-oh-oh Billy

Riding on an eastbound freight train, speeding through the night
Hobo Bill, a railroad bum was fighting for his life
The sadness of his eyes revealed the torture of his soul
He raised a weak and weary hand to brush away the cold

Ho -oh oh bo-oh-oh Billy

No warm lights flickered around him, no blankets there to fold
Nothing but the howling wind and the driving rain so cold
When he heard a whistle blowing in a dreamy kind of way
The hobo seemed contented for he smiled there where he lay

Ho -oh oh bo-oh-oh Bill

Outside the rain was falling on that lonely boxcar door
But the little form of Hobo Bill lay still upon the floor
While the train sped through the darkness and the raging storm outside
No one knew that Hobo Bill was taking his last ride

It was early in the morning when they raised the hobo’s head
The smile still lingered on his face, but Hobo Bill was dead
There was no mother’s longing to soothe his weary soul
For he was just a railroad bum who died out in the cold