Going to heaven on the Frankfurt El

The following lines are from a song I heard a long time ago. I can’t remember the rest of the song, just these lines:

You can’t get to heaven on the Frankfurt El
You can’t get to heaven on the Frankfurt El
No you can’t get to heaven on the Frankfurt El,
'Cause the Frankfurt El goes straight to Frankfurt

  1. Does anybody know which song this is, by which band? Year?
  2. Where’s Frankfurt? (I suppose it’s not the Frankfurt in Germany.) What kind of place is it?

Sounds like a song we used to sing round the campfire when I was in the Boy Scouts, as a call-and-return thing:

“Oh you’ll never get to heaven”
“Oh you’ll never get to heaven”
“In an old Ford car”
“In an old Ford car”
“'Cos an old Ford car”
“'Cos an old Ford car”
“Won’t get that far”
“Won’t get that far”

It was sung in rounds, with people making up new verses on the spot…

Oh you’ll never get to heaven
On a double decker bus
'Cos a double decker bus
Gonna cost too much

and so on…

I don’t know where it originates though - I assumed it’s just one of those campfire standards.

Yep, I just Googled for “you’ll never get to heaven in an old ford car” and got several hits for campfire songbooks.

Here’s one with full lyrics.

And a bit more info… it seems to be based on a “traditional negro song” called “Ain’t Gonna Grieve My Lord No More”. Cite, of sorts.

I imagine the version you heard was a version of this. Google is no help - the only page it finds is somebody’s Yahoo profile which uses it as a sig.

No, it was definitely not a campfire song (although that might be where the band got the inspiration)…

It was (what I would call) a pop song… by a band that sounds American, sometime in the mid to late eighties, I think.

I’d say it’s definitely where they got their inspiration. And I don’t think it started out as a campfire song - more of a negro “working” song, I imagine.

Oh alright, don’t say I never do anything for you. It’s on an album called Zig Zag by The Hooters, and it’s called “Beat Up Guitar”.

Don’t even ask me how I found that.

Full lyrics are here. Apparently it’s the Frankford El (not Frankfurt), in Philadelphia.

Yes the great '80s band the Hooters used a couple lines of it their song Beat Up Guitar, but the full song is Frankford El by the American Dream.


:smack: You could’ve posted that a bit earlier. I was quite proud of tracking that one down, and it turns out I got the wrong song anyway!

Frankford: Section of Philadelphia, PA…USA

El = Elevated train line

I should have jumped in with my WAG earlier. Since I ride the Frankford El twice a week, it was the first thing that came to my mind.

Before it eventually goes underground, the El passes through a lot of poor neighborhoods. There are some stretches where the El follows the same course as the street. The support beams are sunk into the lines dividing lanes. The El rumbles past about every fifteen minutes, from six am until after midnight. The track blocks out the sky.

OTTOMH, I’m not quite sure what the significance of Vine street, Kensington or Franklin are. Franklin is almost certainly a place or building named after Benjamin Franklin, but there are many of those in Philly and I’m not sure which one they mean.