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Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"

DigiTrad:
STAGALEE 3
STAGOLEE
STAGOLEE 2


Related threads:
Lyr Add: Stagalee (from J & A Lomax) (5)
(origins) Origins: Stagger Lee / Stack O'Lee / etc. (142)
Chords Req: Stackerlee (Dave Van Ronk) (5)
Stagger Lee graphic novel (10)
Lyr/Chords Req: Stagger Lee (Lloyd Price) (4)
(origins) Origins: Stagger Lee: The Facts (15)
Book search:"StaggerLee/Black Hustlers" (4)
Stagolee: the full story (20)
stagolee (12)
RADIO: More Stagger Lee than Cheese (20)
Stagger Lee article (4)
STAGGERLEE AND SUPER SKIER (10) (closed)


Nick 21 Nov 96 - 01:46 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Nov 96 - 07:32 PM
GUEST,margret 07 Jul 09 - 12:24 PM
Roberto 07 Jul 09 - 01:40 PM
Fred McCormick 07 Jul 09 - 02:06 PM
PoppaGator 07 Jul 09 - 02:13 PM
Leadbelly 07 Jul 09 - 02:25 PM
Fred McCormick 07 Jul 09 - 02:53 PM
Gibb Sahib 07 Jul 09 - 02:59 PM
pdq 07 Jul 09 - 03:01 PM
michaelr 07 Jul 09 - 03:22 PM
Nerd 07 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM
Stewie 07 Jul 09 - 09:21 PM
Tigger the Tiger 23 Oct 11 - 06:34 AM
GUEST 19 Oct 15 - 04:33 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 19 Oct 15 - 04:47 PM
clueless don 20 Oct 15 - 08:13 AM
Reinhard 20 Oct 15 - 04:25 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 20 Oct 15 - 05:46 PM
Lighter 21 Oct 15 - 01:12 PM
Lighter 21 Oct 15 - 01:28 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 22 Oct 15 - 02:17 PM
Lighter 22 Oct 15 - 07:30 PM
Mark Ross 22 Oct 15 - 11:20 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 24 Oct 15 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 24 Oct 15 - 01:52 PM
Lighter 24 Oct 15 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Triplane 25 Oct 15 - 12:42 PM
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Subject: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Nick
Date: 21 Nov 96 - 01:46 PM

I am interestd in listening to and finding out more about the old song "Stagger Lee". Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds recently did a version on their "Murder Ballads" album. I would like to hear other versions.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Nov 96 - 07:32 PM

Hi- It's often listed as Stagolee or Stackerlee.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST,margret
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 12:24 PM

stagger lee was an african american who killed another african american over an hat.!!!!


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Roberto
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 01:40 PM

I would suggest at least these three...

Billy Lyions and Stackolee
Furry Lewis

I was standing on the corner,
When I heard my bulldog bark;
He was barking at the two mens
Who gambling in the dark.

It was Stagolee and Billy,
Two men who gamble late;
Stagolee throw seven,
Billy swore that he thro wed eight.

Stagolee told Billy,
« I can't let you go with that;
You have win my money
And my brand-new Stetson hat ».

Stagolee went home,
And he got his forty-four;
Says, « I'm going to the bar room
To pay the debt I owe ».

Stagolee went to the bar room,
Stood four feet from the door,
Didn't nobody know when he
Pulled his forty-four.

Stagolee found Billy,
« Oh please, don't take my life,
I got three little chillen
And a very sick li'l wife ».

Stagolee shot Billy,
Oh, he shot that boy so fas',
That the bullet came through him
And broke my window glass.

Some folks don't b'lieve,
Oh Lord, that Billy dead,
You don't believe he gone,
Just look what a hole his head.



Stackalee
Frank Hutchison

Cold and early one dark and drizzly night,
Billy Lyons and Stackalee had one terrible fight,
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stackalee walked to the bar-room and he called a glass of beer.
He turned around to Billy Lyons said: "What are you doing here?"
"Waitin' for the train to bring my woman home."

"Stackalee, oh Stackalee, please don't take my life,
"I've got three little children and a weepin' lovin' wife.
"You're a bad man, bad man Stackalee."

"God bless your children, I'll take care of your wife.
"You stole my John B. and I'm bound to take your life."
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stackalee turned to Billy Lyons and shot him right through the head.
It only took him one shot to kill Billy Lyons dead.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Sent for the doctor, well the doctor he did come.
"Well now, ole Stackalee, now what have you done?
"You're a bad man, bad man Stackalee."

Six big horses and a rubber tired hack.
They've taken him to the cemetary; they fail to bring him back.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Spoken: Lookin' for old Stackalee then.

Cold and early, you could hear the bulldog bark.
It must have been ole Stackalee stumblin' in the dark.
He's a bad man, gonna land him right back in jail.

Spoken: How did they catch ole Stackalee?

High police walked onto Stackalee; he was lyin' fast asleep.
High police said: "Stackalee," he jumped for forty feet
He's a bad man, gonna land him right back in jail.

Got ole Stackalee they land him right back in jail.
They couldn't get a man around to go Stackalee's bail.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stackalee said to the jailer, "Jailer, I can't sleep,
"From my bedside Billy Lyons began to creep."
All about that John B. Stetson hat.



Stagolee
Mississippi John Hurt

Police officer, how can it be?
You can 'rest everybody, but cruel Stagolee,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

Mister Lyons told Stagolee, «Please don't take my life,
I got two little babes, and a darling loving wife»,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

«What I care 'bout two little babes, darling loving wife?
You done stole my Stetson hat, I'm bound to take your life»,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

Boom boom, boom boom, went the forty-four,
O when I spied Mister Lyons, he's lying down on the floor,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

Gentlemen of the jury, «What do you think of that?
Stagolee killed Billy Lyons all 'bout that Stetson hat,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee».

Hanging on the gallows, head way up high,
At twelve o'clock they killed him, they's all glad to see him die,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:06 PM

I'm particularly fond of two versions, in both of which the narrative has dissolved somewhat. They are:

Stackerlee, by a singer identified purely as 'Bama'. He turns up on Prison Songs: Historical Recordings from Parchman Farm 1947-48: Vol 1: Murderous Home. Rounder CD 1714.

ORIGINAL STACK O' LEE BLUES. The Down Home Boys; Long Cleve Reed,Little Harvey Hull and poss Sunny Wilson. That's on Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard's Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s. 1926 - 1937. Old Hat CD-1004


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: PoppaGator
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:13 PM

There are more differences here than the usual lyrical "variants" to the same melody; there are several completley different songs about the same event.

I am very famiilar with two: the John Hurt version shown above, and the Lloyd Price hit record from the late 1950s, which is about the same as the Furry Lewis version shown above and which is part of the New Orleans R&B piano tradition. I don't know the Frank Hamilton song shown above, but it must be sung to yet another melody because the verses wouldn't fit either of the two that I do know.

There's a LOT of information about the real-life event that inspired this hugely popular set of ballads, much of it conflicting. (See the various Mudcat "related threads," some of which refer to entire books on the subject.) One thing about which everyone agrees: it happened in St. Louis.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Leadbelly
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:25 PM

At least 2 Skiffle Groups supplied versions:

Stakalee (Stack O' Lee) by Dick Bishop (vocal/guitar),Lonnie Donegan (lead guitar) and Chris Barber (bass); 1956

Stack o Lee Blues by The Ken Colyer Skiffle Group; 1956


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:53 PM

There's a list of Stackolee recordings, which claims to be comprehensive, at http://www.jass.com/tom/next/stag.html . 229 entries. Last updated September 2007.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:59 PM

different? The Clash -- "Wrong 'Em Boyo"


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: pdq
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:01 PM

David Bromberg's manic version must be heard to be believed.

He actually calls it "Mrs. Delion's Lament", found on his "Reckless Abandon" album.


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Subject: Lyr Add: STAGGER LEE (from Grateful Dead)
From: michaelr
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:22 PM

Here's an interesting ancillary lyric, from Mrs. DeLyon's perspective:

STAGGER LEE
Lyrics By: Robert Hunter; Music By: Jerry Garcia

Nineteen forty, Xmas eve, with the full moon over town
Stagger Lee shot Billy DeLyon and he blew that poor boy down
Do you know what he shot him for, what do you make of that
'Cause Billy DeLyon threw lucky dice, won Stagger Lee's stetson hat

Baio, Baio, tell me how can this be
You go arrest the girls for turning tricks but you're scared of Stagger Lee
Stagger Lee is a mad man, and he shot my Billy dead
Baio go get him, or give the job to me

Delia, Delia, dear sweet Delia D
How the hell can I arrest him, when he's twice as big as me
Well don't ask me to go downtown, I wouldn't come back alive
Not only is that mother big, he packs a forty five

Baio, Delia said, just give me a gun
He shot my Billy dead and now I'm gonna see him hung
She waded to DeLyon's club through Billy DeLyon's blood
Stepped up to Stagger Lee at the bar, said buy me a gin fizz love

As Stagger Lee lit a cigarette, she shot him in the balls
Blew the smoke off her revolver, had him dragged to City Hall
Baio, Baio, see you hang him high
He shot my Billy dead and now he's got to die

Delia went a-walking down on Singapore Street
Three piece band on the corner played 'nearer my God to thee'
But Delia whistled a different tune, what tune could it be
The song that woman sang was look out Stagger Lee
The song that Delia sang was look out Stagger Lee


Based on the traditional song "Stagger Lee", "Stagolee" or "Stack O'Lee." Robert Hunter wrote a version that he performed solo, and Jerry Garcia subsequently re-ordered the lyrics and rewrote the music for the Grateful Dead's version. More recently Bob Weir has also been performing some of the older traditional versions with Ratdog.

This is the version as performed by the Grateful Dead.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Nerd
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM

Nick Cave's version is unlike most other sung versions, because Stack O' Lee existed quite separately in the song tradition and the "toast" (spoken verse) tradition. Cave's is essentially a "toast" version set to music. The "toast" versions are generally ruder, and involve Stack O'Lee in sexual escapades as well as horrific violence.

An interesting version in this regard is R.L. Burnside's, which Samuel L. Jackson covered in the movie "Black Snake Moan"; it's also one of the "toast" versions, and is basically spoken word accompanied by blues guitar (or a full band in Jackson's cover). Jackson's is on the BSM soundtrack, and Burnside's on his album "well, well, well." You can also hear a pure "toast" version (no musical accompaniment) on the compilation CD "Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me," from Rounder. You can buy all these CDs or mp3 downloads from Amazon.

One of my favorite versions is Bromberg's. The title is funny, because it's neither a lament nor from Mrs. Delion's point of view--but it's a great song!


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 09:21 PM

Dale Rose posted Jim Ringer's delightful parody in this thread:

Mrs DeLions Lament.

In line six in first stanza, it should read 'forty dollar shoes'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 06:34 AM

Does anyone have a version that goes: "Stag,Stag,Stagolee,he's the meanest man in town,Every time he gambles,better lay your money down,down in St. Louis,they call the Lyons Club, And Every step,you're step,step,stepping in Billy Lyons blood."This is a great chorus I learned from Rick Curtis in Indiana,but I thought it was part of the original song/


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 04:33 PM

Check out the Tim Hardin version on Youtube. It is great!


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 04:47 PM

My essay here tells the real story behind the song, surveys the most significant recordings of it and provides a link to a collector's list detailing nearly 300 different versions.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: clueless don
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 08:13 AM

There is a version out there that I heard back in my grad school days. It may already have been referenced in the comments above, and I just don't know it by the title. Anyway, the chorus goes something like

Stagolee, oh Stagolee, he's the meanest man around.
When that boy is dealin', better lay your money down!
Way down in New Orleans they got a place called the Lion's Club.
But every step you step you're steppin' in Billy Lyons' blood.

My memory isn't real clear on the use of "man" vs. "boy" in the lyrics.

Don


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Reinhard
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 04:25 PM

Paul, I think I have only five versions of "Stagger Lee", but four of them are not in Dave Hirsch's list of 324 recordings:

1. John Gibbon, Stakolee, "John Gibbon's Disc", Topic 10T11 (1957)
2. Trevor Lucas, Stagger Lee, from the 1963 Folk Attick recordings in Sydney, included in "The Attic Tracks Vol. 4", Friends of Fairport FOFC6 (1994)
3. Jesse Fuller, Stackolee, recorded at Cecil Sharp House in 1965, "Move on Down the Line", Topic 12T134 (1965)
4. Snakefarm, Staggerlee, "My Halo at Half Light", Fledg'ling FLED 3086, 2011


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 05:46 PM

Thanks, Reinhard. David's got a contact form on his website, and I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 01:12 PM

An outstanding article, Paul.

There may be a half dozen of use able to recognize the amount of time and effort that went into it.

BTW, one of Alan Lomax's sources in the late 1930's thought that "Stack" was short for "Stack o' Dollars."


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 01:28 PM

Lots more info about the song on this thread (incl. my own trivia):

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=3018#3589840

That 1910 copyright by the "Three White Kuhns" seems to be the earliest version known and would be worth tracking down - if possible.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 02:17 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Lighter. If I'm not pushing my luck too much, you might also like to consider buying my book, which adds an exclusive interview with Mick Harvey of Nick Cave's band The Bad Seeds to my Stagger Lee coverage.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 07:30 PM

Pricey, Paul.

But if you'd like to trade a copy for one of my *own* book (less pricey, to be honest) that examines fully for the first time "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye"/ "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again," send a personal message and I'll give you my address.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 11:20 PM

The version I learned 50 years ago off of Dave Van Ronk is still my favorite. With a refrain after every verse;

"When you lose your money learn to lose."

By the way I think that the version that Jim Ringer does was written by Shel Silverstein.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 11:48 AM

I wouldn't say a cover price of £16.99 ($21.95 US) is unreasonable for the physical edition of a 300-page book with 16 pages of colours plates - particularly when you bear in mind there's a cheaper e-book option available too. Your mileage may vary, however, so everyone will have to make up their own minds about that.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 01:52 PM

"The version I learned 50 years ago off of Dave Van Ronk is still my favorite." He got it from Furry's record.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 03:02 PM

Not "unreasonable," just "pricey."

That means too pricey for my budget.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST,Triplane
Date: 25 Oct 15 - 12:42 PM

Stagger Lee - Taj Mahal Version


STAGOLEE    (Taj Mahal)

[D] Could Be on a rainy morning
Could be on a rainy night
[D7] Oh, [G] Stagger Lee and Billy DeLyons
Had a great big [D] fight

Chorus
Talkin bout that [A] bad man,
bad man
Cruel old Stag- [Db] - ger [D] Lee

"Stagger Lee", said Billy,
Man you know I can't go with that
I done worn all your money
and your great big stetson hat …. Chorus

"Stagger Lee", said Billy,
Please don't take my life
I got two lovely children
and a very lovely wife …. Chorus

What do I care about your two little babes
or your darling life
you done wore my stetson hat,
I'm bound to take your life …. Chorus

Well Stagger Lee shot Billy
Shot that boy so bad
that the bullet went through Billy
and broke the bartenders looking glass …. Chorus

If you ever down in Louisiana
go in to the Lyons Club
Every foot you be steppin in
Be Billy De Lyons blood …. Chorus

Could Be on a rainy moring
Could be on a rainy night
Oh, Stagger Lee and Billy DeLyons
Had a great big fight

Talkin bout that bad man,
bad man
Cruel old Stagger Lee …. Chorus


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