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Origins: Jesse James I

DigiTrad:
JESSE JAMES
JESSE JAMES (3)
JESSE JAMES (I WONDER WHERE MY POOR OLD JESSE'S GONE)
JESUS CHRIST
JESUS CHRIST (2)
TRUE BALLAD OF JESSE JAMES


Related threads:
Who was Billy Gashade (5)
Lyr Req: Title= A song about Robert Ford (12)
Lyr Add: Jesse James II (4)
Lyr Add: Jesse James IV (3)
Lyr Add: Jesse James III (6)
Related tune: Jesse James (1)


Fiolar 03 Apr 01 - 09:16 AM
Brendy 03 Apr 01 - 09:32 AM
Mark Clark 03 Apr 01 - 10:18 AM
Midchuck 03 Apr 01 - 10:20 AM
Brendy 03 Apr 01 - 11:28 AM
Kim C 03 Apr 01 - 11:30 AM
Mrrzy 03 Apr 01 - 11:54 AM
GUEST 03 Apr 01 - 01:09 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 03 Apr 01 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Arkie 04 Apr 01 - 12:14 AM
jcdevildog 04 Apr 01 - 12:43 AM
Troll 04 Apr 01 - 01:59 AM
Ella who is Sooze 04 Apr 01 - 05:30 AM
Brendy 04 Apr 01 - 05:50 AM
Fiolar 04 Apr 01 - 06:08 AM
Brendy 04 Apr 01 - 06:23 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 03:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 04:14 PM
Stewart 02 Aug 04 - 04:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 05:44 PM
SINSULL 02 Aug 04 - 05:48 PM
Joe Offer 02 Aug 04 - 05:54 PM
Joe Offer 02 Aug 04 - 06:12 PM
Scoville 02 Aug 04 - 06:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 06:33 PM
SINSULL 02 Aug 04 - 07:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 08:58 PM
Joe Offer 02 Aug 04 - 09:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 11:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Aug 04 - 12:38 AM
Joe Offer 03 Aug 04 - 01:55 AM
Joe Offer 03 Aug 04 - 02:18 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Aug 04 - 11:37 AM
Wolfgang 04 Aug 04 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,BILL LYONS Lchantyman@aol.com 06 Aug 05 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 07 Aug 05 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 07 Aug 05 - 02:18 PM
robomatic 15 Aug 05 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,The Old Mole 15 Aug 05 - 04:29 AM
Lighter 15 Aug 05 - 07:35 PM
Goose Gander 02 May 06 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,thurg 03 May 06 - 12:49 AM
Goose Gander 17 Oct 06 - 11:15 PM
Jim Dixon 11 Mar 07 - 01:21 AM
12-stringer 11 Mar 07 - 03:41 AM
SouthernCelt 11 Mar 07 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,meself 11 Mar 07 - 11:52 AM
Goose Gander 20 Mar 07 - 02:56 PM
Goose Gander 22 Nov 08 - 12:59 AM
Goose Gander 22 Nov 08 - 01:10 AM
Melissa 22 Nov 08 - 01:23 AM
banjoman 22 Nov 08 - 07:26 AM
Goose Gander 28 Dec 08 - 08:05 PM
Richie 28 Dec 08 - 09:44 PM
Goose Gander 28 Dec 08 - 11:59 PM
kendall 29 Dec 08 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 29 Dec 08 - 05:33 PM
Goose Gander 24 Mar 09 - 02:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Mar 09 - 02:13 PM
Goose Gander 24 Mar 09 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,dazbo 05 Apr 09 - 05:58 AM
meself 05 Apr 09 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Larry Saidman 13 May 10 - 11:22 AM
meself 13 May 10 - 11:01 PM
Deckman 13 May 10 - 11:16 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 14 May 10 - 01:54 AM
GUEST,Lighter 14 May 10 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 14 May 10 - 11:49 AM
meself 14 May 10 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Lighter 14 May 10 - 04:55 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 18 May 10 - 08:14 PM
Deckman 18 May 10 - 09:41 PM
Lighter 08 Aug 18 - 09:33 PM
Thompson 09 Aug 18 - 05:06 AM
SuperDave 08 Nov 18 - 11:37 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Nov 18 - 08:06 PM
Mossback 09 Nov 18 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Lighter 09 Nov 18 - 12:32 PM
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Subject: Jesse James
From: Fiolar
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 09:16 AM

On this day April 3rd 1882, Jesse James was shot in the back by Bob Ford who was one of Jesse's gangs. The killing took place at Jesse's home in St Joseph, Missouri. The event which was immortalised in "The Ballad of Jesse James" did more than anything else to ensure the legend of Jesse James would continue. The story even goes that it was all a set up so that Jesse could continue to live incognito in security. The same thing happened with any famous figure including Butch Cassidy. The song according to the last verse was composed by Billy Garshade.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Brendy
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 09:32 AM

Come a cow-cow yicky,

come a cow-cow yicky, yicky yea.

B.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Mark Clark
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 10:18 AM

I thought "Cow Cow Yicky" was a Leadbelly tune.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Midchuck
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 10:20 AM

"Cold-blooded in is wrath,
He was your common sociopath
Hardly the poor man's savior.
And as for the 'dirty little coward
Who shot down Mr. Howard;'
Why, Bob Ford did the world a favor!"

- from "The True Ballad of Jesse James" - it's in the DT.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Brendy
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 11:28 AM

Indeed it is, Mark

B.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Kim C
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 11:30 AM

I don't believe in any of the Jesse conspiracy theories. I believe he was shot dead and buried and that's the end of that. BTW, The Long Riders is an awesome movie.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 11:54 AM

Isn't that the movie with Everybody And His Brother? Ha ha? If so, yes, great movie. Also there is a good Tony Hillerman mystery that centers around somebody looking for the old Hole in the Wall gang, especially either Butch or Sundance, who apparently survived Bolivia and went off into Navajo territory back whenever... not sure of the title, though.

Next year in 02 there should be some brouhaha about Jesse, no? 120 years?


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 01:09 PM

There was a recent tv special that proved he was indeed killed. DNA tests proved that the man in the grave was Jesse James.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 03 Apr 01 - 05:00 PM

Marshal (Grandpa ) Jones' "Jesse James", last verse and chorus (throughout)
His end it came at last, with a bullet quick and fast
from a comrade he'd trusted in his band
The debt he paid was just as they laid him in the dust
For he'd been such a terror in the land

No more Jesse James no more Jesse James
They laid Jesse James in his grave
When he went to turn his head, "Little Bobby" shot him dead.
And, they laid Jesse James in his grave.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 04 Apr 01 - 12:14 AM

He was dug up, tested, and reburied and Missouri musicians and Folk Legacy recording artists, Cathy Barton and Dave Para sang at his funeral.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: jcdevildog
Date: 04 Apr 01 - 12:43 AM

If you haven't heard David Olney's song "Robert Ford and Jesse James", I highly recommend it. A great, unsentimentalized take on one possible "back story" to the killing.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Troll
Date: 04 Apr 01 - 01:59 AM

Jesse James was a lad,
Who killed many a man,
A psychopathic killer was he.
But the people didn't mind that,
'Cause he was a Democrat,
And the Democrets ran Missouri don't you see.
Ch. Jesse had a wife,
to mourne for his life.
Two children who wept and cried. But the dirty little coward,
who shot Mister Howard,
Got Ten Grand from the Governor on the side.

I learned this version from Rosalie Sorrels in 1962. No idea who wrote it tho.

troll


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Ella who is Sooze
Date: 04 Apr 01 - 05:30 AM

apparantly Jesse James was originally Welsh...

Just a tit bit I heard... thought I'd share that one...

Ella


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Brendy
Date: 04 Apr 01 - 05:50 AM

There's a pub in Asdee, County Kerry, Ireland called the Jesse James.

Apparently he came from there too, or some of his family did!

I don't know the story, though.

B.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Fiolar
Date: 04 Apr 01 - 06:08 AM

There is little evidence that any of the James' family came from Ireland. The father was a Baptist minister and his roots could be Welsh. It is tempting to surmise that if the Civil War had never happened, Jesse might have turned out differently. Also throw in the Pinkerton Detective Agency members of whom are said to have killed innocent members of the James family. For more info on Jesse and loads of other Western outlaws/lawmen try the "Encyclopedia of Western Lawmen and Outlaws" by Jay Robert Nash. ISBN 0-306-80591-X and published by Da Capo Press, New York. A mine of information.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Brendy
Date: 04 Apr 01 - 06:23 AM

Quote from this article:

"Even Asdee may not be entirely unknown in the United States today, since its late parish priest claimed that the hamlet was the home of the ancestors of Jesse James, whom he made a local hero and for the repose of whose soul he celebrated a requiem mass each year. The hamlet now has a Jesse James Tavern and some hope of attracting American tourists."

Curiouser and curiouser!!

Incidentally, I remember the 'moving statues' phenomenon, well, being living there at the time.
Locals were wondering where the flat ground could be found....to build the airport (a reference to Monsignor Horan's travails to develop Knock airport)
Sorry for the thread drift!

B.


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Subject: ADD: Jesse James (Woody Guthrie)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 03:49 PM

JESSE JAMES
^^
(Woody Guthrie)

Jesse James and his boys rode that Dodge City Trail,
Held up the midnight Southern mail,
And there never was a man with the law in his hand
That could keep Jesse James in a jail.

It was Frank and Jesse James that killed many a man,
But they never was outlaws at heart;
I wrote this song to tell you how it come
That Frank and Jesse James got their start.

They was living in a farm in the old Missouri hills,
With a silver-haired mother and a home;
Now the railroad bullies come to chase them off their land,
But they found that Frank and Jesse wouldn't run.

Then a railroad scab, he went and got a bomb,
And he throwed it at the door-
And it killed Mrs. James a-sleeping in her bed,
So Jesse grabbed a big forty-four.

Yes, Frank and Jesse James were men that was game
To stop that high-rolling train-
And to shoot down the rat that killed Mrs. james,
They was Two-gun Frank and Jesse James.

Now a bastard and coward called little Robert Ford,
He claimed he was Frank and Jesse's friend,
Made love to Jesse's wife and he took Jesse's life
And he laid poor Jesse in his grave.

The people were surprised when Jesse lost his life,
Wondered how he ever came to fall,
Robert Ford, it's a fact, shot Jesse in the back,
While Jesse hung a picture on the wall.

They dug Jesse's grave and a stone they raised,
It says, "Jesse James lies here-
Was killed by a man, a bastard and a coward,
Whose name ain't worthy to appear."

Song composed by Guthrie in 1930s? Printed in Irwin Silber, 1967, "Songs of the Great American West, p. 256. Jesse James
The bomb "that killed Mrs. James" is based on this- "On 25 Jan 1875 Pinkertons laid seige to the Samuel home. James and Frank got away. Some time during the shoot-out, a device similar to the mon otov [Molotov] cocktail was thrown threw a window, where it hit Mrs Zerelda Samuel, taking most of her arm and killing her nine year old son, Archie Samuel." From Yvonne James Henderson, in Univ. Kansas, families website. Her remarks are a little scrambled and may have errors: James Family


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Subject: ADD: Jesse James / Jessee James
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 04:14 PM

JESSEE JAMES (4)
^^
Jesse James was one of his names
Another it was Howard
He robbed the rich of every stitch.
You bet he was no coward.

His mother she was elderly
His father was a preacher
Though some do say, I can't gainsay,
His mother was his teacher.

Her strong right arm, it came to harm
Detectives blew it off, sir,
And killed her son, the youngest one.
No wonder such she'd scoff, sir.

My Jesse dear, your mother here
Has taught more than she ought ter,
For Robert Ford, I pledge my word
Has marked you for his slaughter.

For robbing trains Bob had no brains
Unless Jess plainly showed him.
Our governor for peace or war
Explained this for to goad him.

So Robert Ford, he scratched his gourd
And then he said, "I'll go you,
Give me a price that's something nice,
And then by gee I'll show you!"

Then Governor C. he laughed with glee
And fixed a price to suit him.
And Bob agreed with ready speed,
To find Jesse James and shoot him.

And then he did as he was bid
And shot Jess in the back, sir,
Then ran away on that same day,
For cash he did not lack, sir.

He did his best to live out west,
But no one was his friend there.
"You've killed your cousin," they went buzzin',
However free he'd spend there.

And then one day, the papers say,
Bob Ford got his rewarding:
A cowboy drunk, his heart did plunk.
As you do you'll get according.

Sung by Kris Kristopherson. Origin?
Jessee James
Fit to the usual Jesse James tune. Seems to have some mistakes. Anyone know it?
See Jesse James III


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Stewart
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 04:24 PM

Each Sept. my former home town of Northfield, MN celebrates Jesse James Days - more properly known as The Defeat of Jesse James Days. On Sept. 7, 1876 the JJ gang and the Younger Brothers attempted to rob the Northfield Bank, but were defeated. There was a shoot-out on the main street where two bank robbers were shot dead. The rest of the gang was chased out of town to SW Minnesota where the Younger brothers were captured and later "landed safe in Stillwater Prison" after avoiding a lynch mob. Jesse and his brother Frank allegedly escaped capture and fled to the Dakota territory. This was their last attempt at robbing a bank.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 05:44 PM

More trivia.
Cole Younger lived to write his autobiography and died in 1916. His gun, taken from him when he went to prison, was sold at auction for $211,000.
Frank James died in his bed age 71. For a while he lectured, later exhibited the home place.

Haven't found the Ford song.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: SINSULL
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 05:48 PM

I recently read Mamaw by Susan Dodd - a biographical novel about Zerelda Samuel, mother of the James Boys. Fascinating look at how to create a sociopath.


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Subject: ADD Version: Jesse James (Belden #A)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 05:54 PM

Here is the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index, the first of seven Jesse James songs covered by the Ballad Index:

Jesse James (I) [Laws E1]

DESCRIPTION: Jesse James's career is briefly described, with praise given to his (alleged) acts of charity. The story of James's murder is then told, focusing on the treachery of Robert Ford, "the dirty little coward that shot 'Mister Howard.'"
AUTHOR: unknown (many versions claim to be written by Billy Gashade)
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (Belden)
KEYWORDS: outlaw death
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Apr 4, 1882 - Shooting of Jesse James (then in semi-retirement under the name of Howard) by Robert Ford, a relative and a former member of his gang tempted by the $10,000 reward
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,So,SE)
REFERENCES (24 citations):
Laws E1, Jesse James (I)
Belden, pp. 401-404, "Jesse James" (3 texts, of which only the first is this song)
Randolph 132, "Jesse James" (6 texts plus an excerpt, 6 tunes, but Laws refers the B version to Laws E2; the excerpt "C" may also go there)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 146-148, "Jesse James" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 132F)
BrownII 243, "Jesse James" (4 texts plus 3 excerpts and mention of 3 more; of these, the "A" and "B" texts are certainly this, and probably "G" also though it has wandered far; "I" is "Jesse James (II)")
Chappell-FSRA 112, "Jesse James" (1 fragment, placed here by Laws although it's not typical of the type)
Hudson 99, pp. 235-237, "Jesse James" (2 texts plus a fragment and mention of 3 more; the "B" text and "C" fragment are Laws E1; the "A" text is Laws E2)
Gardner/Chickering 139, "Jesse James" (1 short text without a chorus plus mention of 1 more, 1 tune)
Leach, pp. 753-755, "Jesse James" (3 texts)
Friedman, p. 377, "Jesse James" (2 texts, but only the first is this ballad; Laws lists the second as Jesse James III, dE44)
Sandburg, pp. 374-375, "I Went Down to the Depot" (1 text, 1 tune, heavily folk processed); 420-421, "Jesse James" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSUSA 80, "Jesse James" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 183, "Jesse James" (1 text, 1 tune, which Laws places here but which is noticeably different from most other texts of this type)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 128-131, "Jesse James" (2 texts, 1 tune, but only the first is this ballad; the second is Jesse James II, Laws E2)
Burt, pp. 191-192, "(Jesse James)" (1 excerpt)
Fife-Cowboy/West 93, "Jesse James" (5 texts, 2 tunes, of which the "A" and "B" texts are Laws E1 and the others are distinct)
LPound-ABS, 64, pp. 145-146, "Jesse James"; p. 146, "Jesse James" (2 texts)
JHCox 44, "Jesse James" (1 text)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 36, "Jesse James" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gilbert, pp. 190-191, "Jesse James" (1 text)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 273, "Jesse James" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 202, "Jesse James" (1 text)
Saffel-CowboyP, p. 188-189, "Jesse James" (1 text)
DT 619, JESSJAME*

Roud #2240
RECORDINGS:
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "Jesse James" (OKeh 40155, c. 1924)
Ken Maynard, "Jesse James" (1930, unissued; on RoughWays1)
Harry McClintock, "Jesse James" (Victor 21420, 1928; on WhenIWas2)
Riley Puckett, "Jesse James" (Columbia 15033-D, 1925)
George Reneau, "Jesse James" (Vocalion 14897, 1924)
Almeda Riddle, "Jesse James" [fragment] (on LomaxCD1705)
Pete Seeger, "Jesse James" (on PeteSeeger16)
Ernest Thompson, "Jesse James" (Columbia 145-D, 1924)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Jesse James (II)" [Laws E2]
cf. "Jesse James (III)"
cf. "The Death of Jesse James"
cf. "Jesse James (IV)"
cf. "Jesse James (VI -- 'I Wonder Where My Poor Old Jesse's Gone')"
cf. "J. B. Marcum (A Kentucky Feud Song)" [Laws E19] (tune & meter)
cf. "Cooper Milton" (lyrics)
SAME TUNE:
Jesus Christ (by Woody Guthrie) (Greenway-AFP, pp. 301-302; DT, JESUSCHR)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Oh, People Ain't You Sorry
Notes: It should probably be noted that Jesse James wasn't as nice a person as this song depicts. He began his career with Quantrill's raiders (today we would say "terrorists"), and his behavior never improved much except that he eventually began to settle down.
"Thomas Howard" was the name used by James when he settled down in Saint Joseph, Missouri.
The "Billy Gashade" mentioned in some texts as the author is unknown.
This version is the "standard" Jesse James song, usually beginning "Jesse James was a lad who killed many a man, He robbed the Glendale train." The usual chorus runs, "(Poor) Jesse had a wife to mourn for his life, Three children, they were brave. But the dirty little coward who shot Mister Howard Has laid Jesse James in his grave." - RBW
File: LE01

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Here is the text from Belden. I suppose it's the same song as the first version in the Digital Tradition (click), but there are many differences. I wonder what's the source of the DT version.
-Joe Offer-

Jesse James

Jesse James was a lad that killed many a man.
He robbed the Danville train.
But that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard
Has laid poor Jesse in the grave.

It was Robert Ford, that dirty little coward,
I wonder how he does feel;
For he ate of Jesse's bread and slept in Jesse's bed
And laid poor Jesse in the grave.

Chorus:
Poor Jesse had a wife to mourn for his life,
His children they were brave;
But that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard
And laid poor Jesse in the grave!

It was his brother Frank who robbed the Gallatin bank
And carried the money from the town.
It was at this very place they had a little chase,
For they shot Capt. Sheets to the ground.

They went to the crossing not very far from here,
And there they did the same;
With the agent on his knees he delivered up the keys
To the outlaws Frank and Jesse James.

It was on Wednesday night, the moon was shining bright,
They robbed the Glenville train.
The people they did say, for many miles away,
It was robbed by Frank and Jesse James.

It was on Saturday night, Jesse was at home,
Talking with his family brave.
Robert Ford came along like a thief in the night
And laid poor Jesse in the grave.

The people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death
And wondered how he ever came to die.
It was one of the gang called little Robert Ford,
He shot poor Jesse on the sly.

This song was made by Billy Gashade*
As soon as the news did arrive.
He said there is no man with the law in his hand
Can take Jesse James when alive.

*The name is LaShade in the two Missouri printed texts; but Gashade in CS and ABFS.


'Jesse James.' Sent to me (Belden) in 1906 by George Williams of Bollinger County, who says: 'This song I heard a country boy named Jim Burton sing some eight years ago. Many people in the country know it. I had never seen it in print till lately.'

Belden does not provide a tune.


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Subject: I Wonder Where My Poor Old Jesse's Gone
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 06:12 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index has entries for seven Jesse James songs. Here's the entry for I Wonder Where My Poor Old Jesse's Gone, filename[ JESSJAM1 in the Digital Tradition.

Jesse James (VI -- "I Wonder Where My Poor Old Jesse's Gone")

DESCRIPTION: Jesse James song recognized by the chorus, "Oh I wonder where my poor old Jesse's gone... I will meet him in that land where I've never been before." Jesse is killed by Robert Ford; his life is recalled
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1963 (The Golden Ring)
KEYWORDS: outlaw death betrayal
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Apr 4, 1882 - Shooting of Jesse James (then in semi-retirement under the name of Howard) by Robert Ford, a relative and a former member of his gang tempted by the $10,000 reward
FOUND IN:
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Darling-NAS (New American Songster), pp. 187-188, "Jesse James" (1 text)
DT, JESSJAM1

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Jesse James (I)" [Laws E1] and references there
Notes: I don't know if this version is actually traditional; the Golden Ring text is collated, and I believe someone (Mitchell Trio?) attributed it to Paul Clayton. I've never seen a pure dyed-in-the-wool text from tradition. - RBW
File: DarNS188

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


The Digital Tradition text is almost identical with that found in Darling's New american Songster (1992). Here's what darling says:
    The favorite criminal ballad in North America must be "Jesse James." The folk have transformed the real-life desperado into a courageous and generous ballad hero in the tradition of the legendary Robin Hood. First the ballad recalls selected exploits of the James brothers and their criminal band, and then it concentrates on Jesse's murder by the "dirty little coward," Robert Ford. Again, as with the green-clothed hero of Sherwood Forest, the folk identify with the anti-establishment nature of James The text is a collation of several sources as sung by George and Gerry Armstrong and others on Golden Ring, Folk-Legacy FSI-16.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Scoville
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 06:27 PM

I grew up with the Golden Ring version, an extended "variation" of which was also recorded by Barton and Para. My family has spent a fair amount of time traveling between northern Iowa and southern Texas through Missouri and has taken the time to see a lot of James-related sites (his houses, the Gallatin Bank [now a TrueValue Hardware], etc) for amusement, although our general opinion is that they were mostly angry thugs. I don't mean that they didn't suffer at the hands of the Pinkertons or in general during the war, but a lot of families did and didn't turn out like that.

Ford was shot to death in his tent saloon in Creede, Colorado, in 1892 by man named Edward O. Kelley (sometimes O'Kelly, although I think I read somewhere that the "O" was more properly a middle initial), who was a "James associate", whatever that means. Or at least a fan.


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Subject: Lyr Add: JESSE JAMES
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 06:33 PM

Here is another Missouri version, sung by May Kennedy McCord, 1939. Her guitar chords are given with the music.

Lyr. Add: JESSE JAMES (V)

Jesse James he was a man
Who was known throughout the land,
For Jesse he was bold and bad and brave;
But the dirty little coward that shot Mister Howard
Went and laid poor Jesse in his grave.

It was on a Friday night,
The moon was shining bright,
Robert Ford had been hiding in a cave;
He did eat of Jesse's bread
And he slept in Jesse's bed.
But he went and laid poor Jesse in his grave.

Refrain:
Jesse had a wife to mourn him all her life.
The children they were brave;
But the dirty little coward
That murdered Mister Howard
Went and laid poor Jesse in his grave.

It was Jesse's brother Frank
That robbed the Gallatin bank
And carried the money from the town;
It was in that very place
That they held a mighty race
And shot Captain Sheeks to the ground.

Then they went to the station
Not very far from there,
And there Frank and Jesse did the same,
And the agent on his knees
Delivered up the keys
To the outlaws Frank and Jesse James.

How the people held their breath
When they heard of Jesse's death
And wondered how he ever came to die;
But it was the sneaking coward,
The dirty Robert Ford
That shot Jesse on the sly.

Jesse went to rest
With his hands upon his breast,
The devil he will look him in the face;
He was born one stormy day
In the County of old Clay
And came from a solitary race.

Wm. Owens said he found several versions and 'half a dozen" tunes. he tells a story on himself: "I was so filled with hero-worship that when one of my teachers called Jesse james a highway robber and thief in class one day, I stood up to protest and finally marched out of the schoolroom in anger. I might add that most of the other children in school were also of my opinion." (The teacher must have been a new recruit from the north; no local teacher would have expressed such an opinion at that time (1915-1930)).
William A. and Jessie Ann Owens, 1976 (2nd. rev. ed.), Texas Folk Songs, pp. 78-80, with music. SMU Press, Dallas.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: SINSULL
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 07:19 PM

Jesse robbed from the poor
And gave to the rich
He never did a friendly thing
And when his best friend died
He was right there by her side
And he lifted off her golden wedding ring.

Wish I could remember the LP that came from.


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Subject: RE: Jesse James
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 08:58 PM

Joe, I posted one to your II, but I'll stop until you get the system organized and a 'nucleus' ballad for each thread. I am only complicating things by posting now.
    Not to worry. If you don't mind, I'll move any misplaced songs.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: ADD: Jesse James VII (Belden)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 09:37 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index has only one citation (Belden) for Jesse James VII. Here's the Ballad Index entry, and the Belden text.
-Joe Offer-

Jesse James (VII - "Jesse James Was a Bandit Bold")

DESCRIPTION: Jesse and Frank James come to town with ponies for sale. While there, they attend a ball, and have great success with the girls. The local men try to attack them, but Jesse and Frank out-fight them and escape to Mexico
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1909 (University Missourian)
KEYWORDS: outlaw dancing escape
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Belden, pp. 401-404, "Jesse James" (3 texts, of which only the second, called "A Missouri Ballad" in the original publication, is this song)
Roud #2242
Notes: This is item dE44 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW
File: Beld419b

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.



Jesse James was a bandit bold,
He and his brother Frank;
'Twas in a town in Mexico
They played this daring prank.

They drove some ponies they wanted to trade
Across the greaser line,
And finished selling them one day
In June of 59.

There was a dance at the hall that trip
And the boys were feeling gay;
We'll load our derringers,' said Frank,
In case there comes a fray.'

All uninvited they reached the door
And tied their bronchs outside;
'We'll walk right in,' they said, 'to brave
Those all-fired greasers' pride.'

Each chose a senorita fair,
And when the dance began
They footed the waltz so well they were
The envy of each man.

And when the wine got in their heads,
As sure as pipe-smoke curls,
They made no bones about their lips
But kissed a few of the girls.

At that the jealous men sneaked out
With treacherous looks at Jess;
'What they want with us,' Frank said,
'A Texas steer could guess.'

Back came they with revolvers drawn
To shoot the lights all out;
But Jess and Frank got out their guns
And made them face about.

Back through the swarthy crowd they strode,
Bold Jesse and his pard;
'Untie the bronchs,' his comrade said,
'While I stand here on guard.'

Upon their mounts the heroes leaped,
To horse the greasers sprung;
'And if they take us,' Jesse said,
'They're sure to have us hung.'

But when they reached the Rio Grande
The James boys swam across;
The greasers stood upon the bank
Astounded at their loss.


'A Missouri Ballad.' Printed by Carl Brim in the University Missourian for 16 February, 1909, with the statement: 'It was recited to me by an old settler in a southern county who vouched for its authenticity, and stated that it was well known in some parts of Missouri and Texas.

source: Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society (Belden)


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Subject: RE: Jesse James I
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 11:20 PM

Apparently version I was first reported by Laws in 1906. The same version was published, with 4/4 music, in 1910 in John A.Lomax, 1910, 1919, "Cowboy Songs," p. 29-31, without comment. It was reprinted in Lomax and Lomax, 1938, "Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads," with only one remark: "The last stanza [mentioning Billy Gashade] was made by a Missouri Negro." Several websites try to explain 'Gashade,' one saying he was a newspaperman, another an itinerant singer, but nothing substantive.
In Alan Lomax, 1960, "The Folk Songs of North America," No. 183 Jesse James I appears as "sung by B. L. Lunsford [music and chords given], L. C. Record 97B1, collected by A. Moser." Lomax remarks that the "Song was composed immediately after James was shot, 1882." No support is given for this statement.
This is Text A in Fife and Fife, 1969, Cowboy and Western Songs, with music and chords, pp. 254-256; text A from Gordon, 433; melody A from King 847, Grandpa Jones (listened to a sound clip, doesn't sound like the right version. Date?).


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Subject: RE: Jesse James I
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Aug 04 - 12:38 AM

Jessee James I was sung by these two better known western singers:
Jules Verne Allen, in "Cowboy Lore, 1935, pp. 76-79, with music.
Margaret Larkin, 1931, 1963, "Singing Cowboy, pp. 154-157, with music and rudimentary chords. According to her, Ford shot Jesse through an uncurtained window. Some verses differ from the standard.
The 555 Fake Song Book has the parody version by Shane, Reynolds and Stewart, in which
"When his best friend died, he was right there by her side,
And he lifted off her golden wedding ring."
(Posted somewhere in Mudcat by a scalawag)

Strangely, not in Sing Out's "Rise Up Singing."


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Subject: ADD: I Went Down to the Depot (Jesse James I)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Aug 04 - 01:55 AM

I guess I would call Woody Guthrie's Jesus Christ a non-humorous parody of this song, depending on how one defines "parody." "Jesus Christ" is in Rise Up Singing, but not "Jesse."

As the Ballad Index entry says above, Carl Sandburg's American Songbag has two versions of Jesse I. This one is "heavily folk-processed." Sandburg says this is the "negro version of the Jesse James ballad, as heard by Charles Rockwood in work gangs of the south.

I Went down to the Depot

I went down to the depot, not many nights ago,
And there I done something I never done before.
I got down on my knees
And delivered up the keys
To Frank and his brother Jesse James.
Po' Jesse James, po' Jesse James,
I'll never see my Jesse any more;
'Twas a dirty little coward
He shot Mister Howard
An' laid Jesse James in his grave.

Jesse James was a man and he had a robber band:
And he flagged down the east bound train.
Robert Ford watched his eye,
And he shot him on the sly,
And they laid Jesse James in his grave.
Po' Jesse James, po' Jesse James
I'll never see my Jesse any more.
'Twas a dirty little coward
That shot Mister Howard
And laid Jesse James in his grave.

Jesse James' little wife was a moaner all her life
When they laid Jesse James in his grave.
She earned her daily bread
By her needle and her thread
When they laid Jesse James in his grave.
Po' Jesse James, po' Jesse James,
I'll never see my Jesse any more.
Robert Ford's pistol ball
Brought him tumbling from the wall
And laid Jesse James in his grave.


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Subject: Lyr Add: JESSE JAMES (from Carl Sandburg)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Aug 04 - 02:18 AM

This is the first version of Jesse I in Sandburg's American Songbag. I gather it's the primary source for I Wonder Where My Poor Old Jesse's Gone, since the two songs share so many verses.
-Joe Offer-

Jesse James

It was on a Wednesday night, the moon was shining bright,
They robbed the Glendale train.
And the people they did say, for many miles away,
'Twas the outlaws Frank and Jesse James.

CHORUS
Jesse had a wife to mourn all her life,
The children they are brave.
'Twas a dirty little coward shot Mister Howard,
And laid Jesse James in his grave.

It was Robert Ford, the dirty little coward,
I wonder how he does feel,
For he ate of Jesse's bread and he slept in Jesse's bed,
Then he laid Jesse James in his grave.

It was his brother Frank that robbed the Gallatin bank,
And carried the money from the town.
It was in this very place that they had a little race,
For they shot Captain Sheets to the ground.

They went to the crossing not very far from there,
And there they did the same;
And the agent on his knees he delivered up the keys
To the outlaws Frank and Jesse James.

It was on a Saturday night, Jesse was at home
Talking to his family brave,
When the thief and the coward, little Robert Ford,
Laid Jesse James in his grave.

How people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death,
And wondered how he ever came to die.
'Twas one of the gang, dirty Robert Ford,
That shot Jesse James on the sly.—

Jesse went to his rest with his hand on his breast.
The devil will be upon his knee.
He was born one day in the county of Clay,
And came from a solitary race.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Aug 04 - 11:37 AM

Jesse has not received much attention from black Americans. Odum found only one song which was "in any way complete."

FRANK AND JESSE JAMES

O mother, I'm dreaming; O mother I'm dreaming,
O mother I'm dreaming 'bout Frank an' Jesse James.

Jesse James had a wife, she mourned all her life,
Jesse James children cried for bread.

Went up on the wall, thought I heard a call,
Thought I heard a call 'bout Frank an' Jesse James.

H. W. Odum and Guy B. Johnson, 1925 (1968 reprint), "The Negro and His Songs," pp. 209-210, Negro Universities Press.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Wolfgang
Date: 04 Aug 04 - 07:48 AM

most probably based upon JJI. I learned it 40 years ago.

Wolfgang

JESSE JAMES

Und der Glendale Express,
der stoppte im Wald,
der Chef gab kein Pardon,
Jesse James schoss ein Loch
allen Snobs in den Bauch
und im Westen kennt jeder den Song:

Ch: Wer fragt nach Jesse James,
sein Weib blieb allein,
drei Kinder wer's vergaß.
Es war Samstag als der Schuft kam
und Jesse auf's Korn nahme
und Jesse, der Chef, biss in das Gras.

Für die Armen im Dreck
brach Jesse die Bank,
Chicago, nachts um vier,
trug das Geld aus der Stadt,
denn er sah es nicht ein,
dieses Elend im Armenquartier.

Robbie Ford hieß der Schuft,
der feigste im Land (or: der Gang),
die Zeitung schrie es aus,
wie ein Dieb in der Nacht
tat er's schnöde für Geld,
denn er wusste den Jesse zu Haus.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,BILL LYONS Lchantyman@aol.com
Date: 06 Aug 05 - 04:16 PM

Regarding the Jesse James version subtitled, "I Wonder Where My
Poor Old Jesse's Gone", Paul Clayton told me that he collected
this version from Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Paul taught Lunsford the
chorus that Clayton, himself, had written. I knew Paul Clayton
in the sixties and have sung many of his songs myself, including
his version of "Jesse James".


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Subject: Lyr Add: BALLAD OF OCTOBER 16 (Almanac Singers)
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 07 Aug 05 - 11:38 AM

And then there was.. (I sang this until the Viet Nam War ended.)

It was on a Saturday night,
The moon was shining bright,
That they passed the *conscription bill (* the draft)
And the people all did say from many miles away,
It was the president
And his boys on capital Hill.

CHORUS)
Yes, Franklin Roosevelt
Told the people how he felt,
We damned near believed what he said,
"I hate war and so does Eleanor,
But we won't be safe 'til everybody's dead."

I was standin by his side
When my poor old father died,
And I swore to war I'd never go,
Now I'm eating army beans,
And I'm wearing army jeans,
And I'm told that J. P. Morgan loves me so.

Well, I've been all around this land,
An honest working man,
No clothes to wear and not much food to eat,
Now the government foots the bill,
Buys me clothes and feeds me swill,
Gets me shot and puts me underground six feet!

(from the Almanac Singers)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 07 Aug 05 - 02:18 PM

I must add that I always introduced this song saying that it was a piece of histoy, and that every war has it's good reasons for people not wanting to back/fight it. Also, I'd intimate that there are wars that need to be fought, and if the listeners doubted that, I'd suggest they read "The Lord Of The Rings." *small joke-but truth too* (A modicum of ironic humor was always a good way to intro a serious topic I always thought.)

This was a part of a medley of anti-war songs and pro-war songs. And it all ended with instrumental fingerpicked versions of "Meadowlands" and "Stars And Stripes Forever"---culminating with the first verse of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: robomatic
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 03:40 AM

Very nice book by Ron Hanson: "The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford" tells a lot from Ford's point of view. Very nice little scene where Ford first hears the Gashade song at a minstrel show. Includes the death of Ford in Creede CO at the instigation of Soapy Smith, who was a real character and moved on to Scagway Alaska not long thereafter.

Also recommend the Zevon Song from one of his earlier albums:

On a small Missouri Farm, back when the West was young,
Two boys learned to rope and ride, be handy with a gun,
The war broke out between the States and they joined up with Quantrill
It was over in Clay County that Frank and Jesse finally learned to kill.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,The Old Mole
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 04:29 AM

Frank James was a socialist, who vowed to take up arms in the coming war between capital and labor.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 07:35 PM

Charles J. Finger's "Frontier Ballads" (1927) reproduces an 1880s broadside of the "classic" (Sandburg) version of "Jesse James." It's easy to believe that this text, or one close to it, was the ultimate source of field-collected variants.


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Subject: Lyr Add: JESSE JAMES (from Norm Cohen)
From: Goose Gander
Date: 02 May 06 - 08:42 PM

This may be the earliest version, printed by Norm Cohen in Long Steel Rail which is a wonderful book well worth purchasing.


JESSE JAMES

Jesse James was a lad that killed many a man,
He robbed the Danville train;
But that dirty little coward that shot at Mr. Howard
Has laid Jesse James in his grave.
It was Robert Ford, that dirty little coward;
I wonder how he does feel;
For he ate Jesse's bread and slept in Jesse's bed,
Then laid Jesse James in his grave.

Poor Jesse had a wife, to mourn for his life
Children they were brave;
But that dirty little coward, that shot at Mr. Howard
Has laid Jesse James in his grave.

It was with his brother Frank, he robbed the Gallatin bank,
And carried the money from the town;
It was at this very place they had a little chase,
For they shot Capt. Sheets to the ground.
They went to the crossing not very far from there,
And there they did the same,
With the agent on his knees he delivered up the keys
To the outlaws Frank and Jesse James.

It was on a Wednesday night, the moon was shining bright,
They robbed the Danville train;
The people they did say for many miles away,
It was robbed by Frank and Jesse James.
It was on Saturday night, the moon was shining bright,
Talking with his family brave,
Robert Ford came along like a thief in the night,
And he laid Jesse James in his grave.

The people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death,
And wondered how he came to die.
It was one of the gang called little Robert Ford,
He shot Jesse James on the sly.
This song was written by Billy LaShade, as soon as the news did arrive;
He said there's no man with the law in his hand
Can take Jesse James alive.

"Until recently, the earliest known printing of 'Jesse James' was a broadside printed by New York publisher Henry J. Wehman (no. 1044). Though undated, it can be placed between 1888 and 1897 on the basis of Wehman's address given on the sheet. It has been reproduced by Finger (1927) and by Thede and Preece. In 1977, Guthrie T. Meade came across an 1887 pocket songster in the Library of Congress, Comic and Sentimental Songs; one of the texts, as sung by Robert Jones, is 'Jesse James'. Jones, born blind in east Tennessee, made his living after the age of fifteen by singing and playing the fiddle . . . . While this version the authorship is attributed to LaShade, rather than Gashade, I am uneasy about building any hypotheses on this slender foundation."

Norm Cohen, Long Steel Rail (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 103-104.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 03 May 06 - 12:49 AM

Happened to be talking to me big brudder about this song (Jesse James was a lad ... ) this evening, before I stumbled onto this thread. He said that Billy Gashade was a black convict in a Texas pen when he wrote the song - don't know where my brother got that, but it's not the sort of thing he'd be saying without some sort of "reliable source".

Anyone know the song with the refrain "Somebody robbed the Glendale train"? Recorded by the Red Clay Ramblers or some band of that ilk. Tells the story from the point of view of the local community.


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Subject: Lyr Add: JESSE JAMES (from Loye Pack)
From: Goose Gander
Date: 17 Oct 06 - 11:15 PM

Here's another version, this time from Loye Pack . . . .

JESSE JAMES

Last Saturday night
The moon was shining bright
He robbed the Otterville train
He was a dirty little coward
Who shot Mr. Howard
And he laid Jesse James in his grave

Jesse had a wife
Who mourned for his life
His children they were brave
He was a dirty little coward
Who shot Mr. Howard
And he laid Jesse James in his grave

'Twas Saturday night
The moon was shining bright
He robbed the Denver train
He was a dirty little coward
Who shot Mr. Howard
And he laid Jesse James in his grave

They went to the depot
It wasn't very far
The agent for to see
He fell upon his knees
And delivered up the keys
To Frank and Jesse James

This very song was made
By Billy Mosha
No sooner than the news arrived
They say there was no man
With the law in his hand
Could take Jesse James alive

Little Robert Ford
He was one of the gang
How his heart did crave
He ate of Jesse's bread
And slept on Jesse's bed
And he laid Jesse James in his grave

Jesse drew his belt
You bet he never felt
That his enemy was so nigh
But little Robert Ford
He did spy
And Jesse came tumbling from the chair

The ladies held their breath
When they heard of Jesse's death
They wondered how he came to die
He was shot upon the sly
By little Robert Ford
And they laid Jesse James in his grave

Source: Old Time Songs, Compiled by Loye Pack (n.d., probably mid-1930s), p. 52-53).

From Mountaineer Jamboree by Ivan Tribe (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1984):

"Born Loye Donald Pack in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 3, 1900, the Cowboy apparently wandered around somewhat in his early adulthood and spent several years working on a ranch in Nebraska. He entered radio in January 1929, played in Columbus, Ohio, for a time, and began his career at WWVA on November 11, 1933" (p. 45).

Cowboy Loye apparently never recorded, his career cut short by his early death in 1941 due to a kidney ailment (ibid., p. 46).


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Subject: Lyr Add: JESSE JAMES (Harry McClintock)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Mar 07 - 01:21 AM

I copied these lyrics form Norm Cohen's book, "Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong." There, this version is attributed to Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock.

JESSE JAMES

1. How the people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death,
Wondered how he came to die.
For the big reward, little Robert Ford
Shot Jesse James on the sly.
It was Robert Ford, that dirty little coward,
I wonder how he does feel;
For he ate Jesse's bread and he slept in Jesse's bed
And he laid Jesse James in his grave.

CHORUS 1: Jesse leaves a wife that'll moan [or "mourn"?] all her life.
The children that the left will pray;
For Bob Ford, the coward, that shot Mr. Howard
That laid Jesse James in his grave.

2. Jesse was a man, a friend to the poor.
He'd never see a man suffer pain;
But with his brother Frank, he robbed the Springfield bank,
And stopped the Glendale train.
It was his brother Frank that robbed the Gallatin bank
And carried the money from the town.
It was in this very place they had a little chase
And they shot Captain Sheets to the ground. CHORUS 1.

3. They went to the crossin' not very far from there,
And there they did the same;
For the agent on his knees delivered up the keys
To the outlaws, Frank and Jesse James.
'Twas on a Saturday night, and Jesse was at home,
Talkin' with his family brave.
Bob Ford came along like a thief in the night
And laid Jesse James in his grave.

CHORUS 2: Oh, they laid poor Jesse in his grave, yes, Lord,
They laid Jesse James in his grave.
Oh, he took from the rich and he gave it to the poor,
But they laid Jesse James in his grave.

4. Jesse went to his rest with his hand on his breast.
The devil will be upon his knee.
He was born one day in the county of Clay,
And came from a solitary race.
Now men, when you go out into the West,
Never be afraid to die.
They had the law in their hands, but they didn't have the sand
To take Jesse James alive. CHORUS 1, CHORUS 2.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: 12-stringer
Date: 11 Mar 07 - 03:41 AM

Somebody commented upthread that black music took little notice of JJ. One exception of course is Leadbelly's "When I was a Cowboy." Another in Blind Lemon's "One Dime Blues":

Do you want your friend to be bad like Jesse James? (x3)
Get two big pistols, highway some passenger train.


On their mother's side, Jesse and Frank were descendants of Colonel Nicholas Greenberry (c1627-1698) of Anne Arundel Co, MD. It was said of Greenberry by a political adversary that he had been "a highwayman in England" before emigrating to MD in the early 1670s. Possibly it's genetic, though relatively few of the Greenberry descendants have been known to get two big pistols and highway any passenger trains. At least, I never felt the urge, but the passenger trains stopped running here quite a few years ago.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: SouthernCelt
Date: 11 Mar 07 - 10:51 AM

I think there have been as many "folk" songs about Jesse as there have movies that supposedly told the true story of his career. Of the movies, I think the best was "Long Riders" by far since it was a bit more factual than most of the others. (Had some dang good music in it too, gave it a folky flavor.)

Although Jesse and rest aren't mentioned in the song (no names are), listen to Jed Marum's "Bloody Friday" about the Lawrence raid sometime. Jed gives a bit of insight of why the Confederate guerillas so hated the Northern-sympathizing, Unionist Jayhawkers.

A bit of trivia: Do any of you know the real reason Jesse decided to take the gang all the way to Northfield, MN on what proved to be their last robbery/raid? I'll give other 'Catters a few days to speculate before I give the answer or confirm what anyone else posts.

SC


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 11 Mar 07 - 11:52 AM

So, 12-stringer - we're to assume that you're a Greenberry descendant?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Goose Gander
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 02:56 PM

"A bit of trivia: Do any of you know the real reason Jesse decided to take the gang all the way to Northfield, MN on what proved to be their last robbery/raid?"

OK, lay it on us - why did Jesse and the gang go all the way up to Northfield, MN?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 12:59 AM

The lyrics to Harry McClintock's version seem to be taken directly from the version in 'Sailor Chanties and Cowboy Songs, compiled by Charles J. Finger' (Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Company, n.d.), p. 18. I'll listen to it tomorrow and see if there Harry's version differs in any way.

Re: African-Americans and Jesse James - how about "I'm Bad, Like Jesse James," by John Lee Hooker(?) . . .


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Subject: Lyr Add: I'M BAD LIKE JESSE JAMES (John Lee Hooker
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 01:10 AM

I'M BAD LIKE JESSE JAMES
(John Lee Hooker)
Recorded NYC August 30, 1966
Original release- Bluesway 'Live At The Cafe Au Go-Go' 1966

I'm bad
I'm bad
Like Jesse James, uh-huh

I had a friend one time
Least I thought I did
He come to me
Said, 'Johnny?'
Said, 'What man?'
'I'm outdoor'
I say, 'Yeah?'

I taken the cat in
Get him a place to stay
And I found out
He goin' 'round town
Tellin' ev'rybody that he
He got my wife

Then I gets mad
I goes to the cat
Like a good guy should
I said, 'Look man
'I'm gonna warn, you just one time'
Next time I warn you'
'I'm gonna use my gun'

'Cause I'm mad, I'm bad, like Jesse James

I'm so mad, I'm so mad.
I'm gonna ruin you this mornin'.
I've got three boys
Do my dirty work
Now, you don't see me
I'm the big boss
I do the payin' off
After they take care of you

In their on way
They may shoot you
They may cut you.
They may drown you
I just don't know
I don't care
Long as they take care of you
In their on way

I'm so mad, I'm bad this mornin', like Jesse James.

They gon' take you right down
By the riverside
Now four is goin' down
Ain't but three comin' back
You read between the line
We're gonna have a deal

'Cause I'm mad, I'm bad, like Jesse James.

They gonna tie yo' hands
They gonna tie yo' feet
They gonna gag your throat
Where you can't holler none

An cryin' won't help you none
Set you in the water
Yeah, the bubbles comin' up.
Whoa
Rrrrrrr
Rrrrrrr

Oh yeah, I'm so mad!

Listen and see here . . .

I'm Bad Like Jesse James (live)
I'm Bad Like Jesse James


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Melissa
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 01:23 AM

I live in Jesse James country and the most interesting book I've read about him was written by a guy in Denmark--it was fascinating to read such a far-away telling of a local story.

In Jimmie Driftwood's version, JJ robs a 'Texas train'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: banjoman
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 07:26 AM

I had the opportunity to visit the Missouri Caves at Hanibal (birth place of Mark Twain alias Sam Clements) and was shown what was purported to be the signature of Jesse James on one of the cavern walls where he is said to have hidden from the law.
Just a bit of trivia to add to the thread
Pete


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Subject: Lyr Add: JESSE JAMES (from Charles Finger)
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 08:05 PM

JESSE JAMES

How the people held their breath
When they heard of Jesse's death
And wondered how he came to die
For the big reward little Robert Ford
Shot Jesse James on the sly

Chorus:
Jesse leaves a wife to mourn all her life
The children that he left will pray
For the thief and the coward
Who shot Mr. Howard
And laid Jesse James in his grave

Jesse was a man - a friend to the poor -
Never did he suffer a man's pain
And with his brother Frank
They robbed the Chicago Bank
And stopped the Glendale train

Jesse goes to his rest with his hand on his breast
And the devil will be upon his knees
He was born one day in the County of Clay
And came from a great race

Men, when you go out to the west
Don't be afraid to die -
With the law in their hand
But they didn't have the sand
For to take Jesse James alive

Source:
Charles Finger, Sailor Chanties and Cowboy Songs (Little Blue Book no. 301)(Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Company, n.d.).

Finger writes that he got his version from "a sea cook named Wilson" and that he secured an identical version from a wandering singer in West Texas who had a printed broadside of the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Richie
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 09:44 PM

Michael,

A "Jesse James" reference is found in Blind Lemon's "One Dime Blues":

You want your friend to be bad like Jesse James?
You want your friend to be bad like Jesse James ?
Just give'm a six shooter and highway some passenger train.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 11:59 PM

The "bad like Jesse James" line certainly is established in the African-American folk tradition.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: kendall
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 05:03 PM

The James brothers rode with Quantrill in the "War to resist northern aggression". That tells you something about their character.

Why did they go to MN to rob a bank? Probably to deprive the Yankees of the gold that would otherwise be used against the South. Plus, the law would never expect them to strike that far north.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 05:33 PM

"Bleeding Kansas" vs. Missouri was a long standing fact of life before and during the Civil War. Incursions, especially from the Missouri side and aimed at those opposed to the "peculiar institution" of slavery, were often swift, brutal and merciless. The worst example, for many, was the ransacking and burning of Lawrence, Kansas, led by William Clark Quantrill.

Quantrill's raiders were perhaps the most notorious of several "bushwhacking" guerilla bands operating outside the military authority of the Confederacy, but with its unofficial blessing. Frank James was an unabashed admirer of Quantrill, as was his younger brother, Jesse. This young "Robin Hood" was more likely filled with hatred and rage than with any altruistic motives.

I always liked the melody of the song and, when much younger and more easily impressed, also liked the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 02:04 PM

"The James brothers rode with Quantrill in the 'War to resist northern aggression'. That tells you something about their character."

The guerilla war in Missouri (as in Appalachia) was brutal with attrocities on both sides and deliberate targeting of civilians by pro-Union and pro-Confederate forces. See Michael Fellman, Inside War (Oxford University Press, 1989). Most guerillas went home in 1865, but Jessie chose to continue his career as an outlaw.

"A bit of trivia: Do any of you know the real reason Jesse decided to take the gang all the way to Northfield, MN on what proved to be their last robbery/raid?"

I believe that because General Benjamin Butler, hated by Southern partisans for his administration of occupied New Orleans, had a good deal of money invested in that bank.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 02:13 PM

Interesting idea!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 02:23 PM

More about the creation of the Jesse James myth here . . .

Jesse James and Late-Nineteenth Century Missouri Newspapers paper presented by Cathy Jackson at the Association for Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication in San Antonio, Texas August 2005.

And a strong critique from the left of the James myth here . . .

Jesse James: The Myth And The Man by Louis Proyect.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,dazbo
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 05:58 AM

Just got Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions and it's got this song on. Who is Mr Howard? Was is James's alias or someone else? It's not clear (to me at any rate) from the lyrics in the booklet.

Great CD by the way - inspired to buy it by the BBC4 show of him and his gang doing it London.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: meself
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:32 AM

Yes, "Mr Howard" was the name Jesse was living under at the time of his murder.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,Larry Saidman
Date: 13 May 10 - 11:22 AM

I made an interesting discovery about the Jesse James variant where the chorus goes "I Wonder Where My Poor (Old) Jesse's Gone". I first heard it by The Chad Mitchell Trio in the early 60's, and it was later recorded by The Golden Ring. THe Chad Mitchell Trio credited it to Paul Clayton. The only reference to it related to Paul Clayton is an LP by Clayton from 1957 entitled "Wanted For Murder". I can't find the record, but assume that it is that particular variant and that this is where the Chad Mitchell Trio got it. Hence, it wouldn't appear to be traditional.

However, on another Mudcat Post on "Most Embarrassing Moments", someone called Deckman refers to singing the better known version of Jesse James (Poor Jesse had a wife to mourn for his life) in a town in Missouri and getting a cool reception--then being told by an 81 year old resident that the version they sing there is ""I Wonder where my Poor Jesse's Gone", and singing it to Deckman to illustrate. This, interestingly enough, was in 1955--two years before the Paul Clayton recording.

Paul Clayton was a recorder of traditional music, so it's likely that he got his version from traditional sources. So, it's likely that this version has probably gone through some kind of oral tradition and nobody knows who wrote it. Making it a true folk song.

Deckman (Most Embarrassing Moments post)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: meself
Date: 13 May 10 - 11:01 PM

I find that line "He came from a solitary race" quite striking. Any comments on its implications? Does the term "solitary race" appear in any other folk songs?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Deckman
Date: 13 May 10 - 11:16 PM

The man that sang me the "real version" of Jesse James was my great uncle "Alan." We were on his front porch in Skidmore, MO. I think it was the summer of 1955.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:54 AM

Thanks for the clarification, Deckman. I wonder if anybody has traced that version of Jesse James (I wonder where my poor jesse's gone) any earlier than 1955?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:43 AM

"Solitary race" sounds pretty literary. I've never seen it in any other song, folk or otherwise. The author may have picked it up from reading or remembered it from a sermon. (Biblical commentaries of the day described the Essenes as "a solitary race," for example.)

Clay Co., Missouri, was named for Henry Clay. Coincidentally or not, actually used the phrase (in a quite different sense)in a speech in 1829. So maybe the author of "Jesse James" was specially interested in Clay's career.

In the 19th C., "race" often included ideas like "family" from the viewpoint of presumed genetic inheritance. "He came from a solitary race" apparently means that his family had always been more or less loners.

Kind of anticlimactic, if you ask me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 14 May 10 - 11:49 AM

We yanks love our mythology more than our reality; always have. Growing up in the forties, the "wild west" was still very much a part of our upbringing and game playing. Western heroes, wearing hats and attire designed by Hollywood tailors and never seen on the real range, were all the rage. I loved it all as much as any of my peers, living on a ranch and riding horses was all part of it. Men and women who had been there in the 1870's and 1880's were still around.

I have read accounts of any number of real "bad men" over the years. Most had only a passing resemblance to their characters as portrayed on screen. Jesse was an angry young man; a follower of Quantrill who took part in murder and mayhem disguised as warfare. The fact that he had adopted an alias, something common to many outlaws, didn't change who he was. His poor, grieving wife and children knew exactly what he was.

Johnny Ringo was a melancholy alcoholic whose reputation far exceeded his actual deeds. Romantics like to believe he was killed by Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday. He likely committed suicide.

Wyatt Earp was an opportunistic, self-promoting sort. He was fortunate to have lived long enough to help create his own myth with the help of "biographer" Stuart Lake. His buddy, Doc Holliday, was an angry, embittered alcoholic, a victim of tuberculosis estranged from his well-connected Georgia roots. He was authentically deadly, with nothing to lose, but hardly admirable.

I always sort of liked the "Ballad of Jesse James." I just see it as a song about a mythical character. The myth is still more fun than the reality. It's more comforting.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: meself
Date: 14 May 10 - 12:08 PM

Lighter -

"Kind of anticlimactic"

I take your point - but to me, the line "He came from a solitary race" hints teasingly at some Faulkneresque 'back story' that might explain the genesis of a psychopath. You know, the weird, self-exiled Southern family that can't accept the defeat of the South, etc., ....

Thanks for the info.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:55 PM

There's really no telling. It's enigmatic.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 18 May 10 - 08:14 PM

I hope I'm posting this on the right board. Earlier I had posted an interest in finding out more about the origin of the Chad Mitchell Trio (and apparently later recorded by The Golden Ring) version of Jesse James with the chorus "I wonder where my poor Jesse's gone". Paul Clayton has it on a 1957 lp. Deckman claims he heard it in 1955.

I just noticed a previous post (don't know how I missed it the first time) From: GUEST,BILL LYONS Lchantyman@aol.com - PM
Date: 06 Aug 05 - 04:16 PM

He writes:
Regarding the Jesse James version subtitled, "I Wonder Where My
Poor Old Jesse's Gone", Paul Clayton told me that he collected
this version from Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Paul taught Lunsford the
chorus that Clayton, himself, had written. I knew Paul Clayton
in the sixties and have sung many of his songs myself, including
his version of "Jesse James".

I'm confused. It seems really circular. Paul Clayton learned it from Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Lunsford learned it from Clayton.

Most of the verses aren't that different from other versions of Jesse James--just the chorus). So was the version that Deckman's great uncle sang him in Skidmore Missouri (the one they know around those parts)learned from Paul Clayton via Mr. Lunsford--or does it have an earlier origin?   Oral tradition is fascinating, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Deckman
Date: 18 May 10 - 09:41 PM

To: Larry Saidman ... You are indeed posting on the correct thread. And you raise the perfect questions ... who taught it to who, how and when. I've wondered about this for many years. This is what the "folk process" is all about ... it's a perfect example. All I can add to this discussion is to mention again, that my great Uncle "Alan" sang me that version on his front porch in Skidmore, MO, in the summer of 1955.

I don't suppose we'll ever really know the perfect answers to the background to this song. But what I would have everyone to notice is the strong feelings that this version reflects:

"I WONDER WHERE MY POOR JESSIE'S GONE,
I WONDER WHERE MY POOR JESSIE'S GONE,
WILL I MEET HIM IN THAT LAND, WHERE I'VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE,
I WONDER WHERE MY POOR JESSIE'S GONE."

bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Aug 18 - 09:33 PM

The earliest dated reference to the familiar version I've seen is in a description of a "convict camp" at Tracy City, Tenn., published in Salt Lake Herald of March 8, 1889:


“As might be expected in a ["Negro"] convict camp, there are favorite songs about noted bandits, including one about Jesse James, beginning,

        Jesse James was a man
        Who from danger never ran.
        He robbed the railway train:
        But a dirty little coward,
        He shot Mr. Howard,
        And laid Jesse James in his grave.

Chorus – Oh, Jesse had a wife;
        She’s a mourner all her life;
        The children all were brave;
        But the dirty little coward
        That shot Mr. Howard,
        He laid Jesse James in his grave.”


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Thompson
Date: 09 Aug 18 - 05:06 AM

The James Brothers are mentioned in True Grit by Charles Portis - 'Rooster' Cogburn's backstory is that he rode with Quantrill's Raiders. In a scene in the novel where Cogburn re-educates a couple of boys who were torturing a mule, he tells them to mention to their father that (if memory serves) "Mr James, a bank adjuster" has called, and so on. Great book, by the way.

The James Brothers might have particularly despised Benjamin Butler because of his noted anti-Semitism. I see an online query from one of the Briscoe family (an Irish Jewish family) who says that they are reputed to be related.

Given the persistent legends of the James brothers, and other bank robbers, helping out poor farmers that the banks were screwing, it would be an interesting project for some sociologist to collect family stories of this.

People - at least, many poor people - saw the outlaws as heroes for taking on the avid, all-powerful banks.

The nearest thing to the hatred of the banks in rural America at that time is the modern feeling about vulture funds, which buy up house loans en bloc and then evict the mortgage-payers and sell off their homes for tiny amounts.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: SuperDave
Date: 08 Nov 18 - 11:37 AM

In reply to Sinsull's post above:
Jesse robbed from the poor
And gave to the rich
He never did a friendly thing
And when his best friend died
He was right there by her side
And he lifted off her golden wedding ring.

Wish I could remember the LP that came from.

I believe this was "Big Men Bold and Bad" by Ernie Sheldon. The album featured songs about Paul Bunyan, Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid, Casey Jones and several others. It seems to still be available on Amazon.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Nov 18 - 08:06 PM

On Oscar Brand's WNYC radio show sometime in the late '60s I heard the complete version of which Deckman posted the chorus in 2010. ("I don't know where my poor old Jesse's gone.")

I'm pretty sure it was sung by Paul Clayton. Years later, I read somewhere that Clayton had written or adapted it. The words and tune were pretty close to the standard, however.

I can't find any available recording, or the complete text on line.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: Mossback
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 09:49 AM

The Kingston Trio sang SuperDave's verse I believe on the album "Close Up".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jesse James I
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 12:32 PM

The only other thing I can remember about the "Clayton" version was that it began,

Jesse James was a lad who traveled in the land,
Stealing and robbing was his trade.

And when Robert Ford shot him,

It was on a Saturday night, Jesse was standing on high,
Trying to straighten out a picture frame.

It's been a long, long time, but I think those are the right words.


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