I've a thing or two to tell ya pard that I think you ought to know,
About a rusty bucket Sully carries down below.
You're not the first one, stranger, who laughed at Sully's pail.
You're the only one who's laughing now, the rest have heard the tail.

When we were young and handsome, had some ten years in the game,
Old Sull he had a partner, and Jim Riley was his name.
The four of us together, we were working side by side.
That's how come I chanced to be there on the night Jim Riley died.

Well the blasting had been easy, it was running out like sand.
An we were mucking out the ore; those days we mucked by hand.
And we were nearly finished, and I hadn't heard a sound.
But something must have happened, 'Cause Jim Riley yelled "bad ground."

When we headed for the timberin', Sully must of took a spill
'Cause when we looked back in there he was pinned beneath his drill.
The ceiling it was groanin' now, all set to drop its lid.
And Sully pinned beneath his drill was sobbin' like a kid.

Now there's men can watch their partners die, not throw their lives away.
But Riley wasn't one of them, he wasn't built that way.
As soon's he seen what happened, "Hey, hold on Sull," he cried.
And before he had the words out, he'd thrown the drill aside.

Well, they headed 'round the ore car, Riley wearing a big grin.
Guess he never knew what happened when he hanging wall came in.
Sully reached the timberin', his face as white as chalk.
And Riley, four yards back of him, caught fifteen ton of rock.

That day Sully's pail was buried, he ate from Riley's pail in tears.
And he's carried that same bucket now for almost twenty years.
So you can laugh at Sully, because he's mean and drinks a lot.
But don't laugh at Sully's bucket, it's the only friend he's got.


I don't think these are all the words I remember from Tom Paxton's
rendition. See more comments on the Web page. 10/19/1999 WH]