The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #26162   Message #2201690
Posted By: Joe Offer
25-Nov-07 - 02:54 AM
Thread Name: Origins: He Had a Long Chain On (Jimmie Driftwood)
Subject: RE: Origins: 'Long Chain On' lyric credits
Peter, Paul and Mary credit it to Jimmie Driftwood, as does the Bear Family Jimmie Driftwood box set, Americana Driftwood recorded the song on January 13, 1960.
Stewie posted the song notes from the box set up above. From Driftwood's wording, you could almost think that it came from tradition or from another songwriter. Many of Driftwood's songs were updates of earlier traditional songs - but my guess is that this one is a Driftwood original.
Here's what I hear on the recording - just slightly different from the Peter, Paul and Mary version:

(Jimmie Driftwood)

One night as I lay on my pillow,
Moonlight as bright as the dawn,
I saw a man a-walking,
He had a long chain on.
I heard his chain a-clankin',
It made a mournful sound,
Welded around his body,
Draggin' along the ground.

He had a long chain on
He had a long chain on
He had a long chain on

He stood beside my window,
He looked at me and he said,
"I am so tired and hungry,
Give me a bite of your bread."
He didn't look like a robber,
He didn't look like a thief;
His voice was as soft as the moonlight,
His face full of sorrow and grief.


I went into my kitchen,
Got him a bowl full of meat;
A drink and a pan of cold biscuits,
That's what I gave him to eat.
Though he was tired and hungry,
A bright light came over his face;
He bowed his head in the moonlight,
He said a beautiful grace.


I fetched my hammer and chisel,
Offered to set him free;
He shook his head and said sadly,
"I guess we had best let it be."
When he had finished his supper,
He thanked me again and again.
Though it's been years since I saw him,
I still hear him draggin' his chain.


Transcribed by ear from the Jimmie Driftwood Americana box set (Bear Family Records)