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DTStudy: Billy the Kid

DigiTrad:
BILLY THE KID


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Joe Offer 23 Nov 05 - 03:13 PM
Joe Offer 23 Nov 05 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 23 Nov 05 - 04:13 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Nov 05 - 05:04 PM
Lighter 23 Nov 05 - 05:32 PM
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Subject: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 03:13 PM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

Search for other DTStudy threads


This being the putative birthday of William H. Bonney (nee Henry McCarth), AKA Billy the Kid, I think we need to do some work on this song. Here's the version from the Digital Tradition:

BILLY THE KID

I'll sing you a true song of Billy the Kid,
I'll sing of the desperate deeds that he did,
Way out in New Mexico, long long ago
When a man's only chance was his own 44.

When Billy the Kid was a very young lad
In the old Silver City he went to the bad
Way out in the West with a gun in his hand
At the age of twelve years he first killed his man.

Fair Mexican maidens play guitars and sing
A song about Billy, the boy bandit king
How ere his young manhood had reached its sad end
He'd* a notch on his pistol for twenty-one men.

'Twas on the same night when poor Billy died
He said to his friends: "I am not satisfied.
There are twenty-one men I have put bullets through
And Sheriff Pat Garrett must make twenty-two."

Now this is how Billy the Kid met his fate,
The bright moon was shining, the hour was late
Shot down by Pat Garrett, who once was his friend
The young outlaw's life had now come to its end.

There's many a man with a face fine and fair
Who starts out in life with a chance to be square,
But just like poor Billy he wanders astray
And loses his life in the very same way.

Note: This song -- a pretty good one, I think -- is remembered
mainly because Woody Guthrie used the tune for the verse of So
Long, It's Been Good to Know You.

From Lomax-Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads
@cowboy @outlaw
filename[ BILLYKID
TUNE FILE: BILLYKID
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


Corrections shown in italics and strikeout.
John Lomax has "had a notch, "*I like the "he'd" from the DT & Alan Lomax better. Except for the one correction shown and the "had," the DT version is an accurate trancription of the second version from Lomax & Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs and The Folk Songs of North America (Alan Lomax, 1960). The John Lomax version is taken from Victor recording #20396 (not further identified), and Alan Lomax says this version is "As sung by Frank Crummitt." The DT tune is an accurate transcription of what's in the Lomax & Lomax book, although I wish it were a little faster.

PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted ©. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.
And the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Billy the Kid (I)

DESCRIPTION: "I'll sing you a true song of Billy the Kid, I'll sing of the desperate deeds that he did." Billy "went bad" in Silver City as "a very young lad." He soon has 21 notches on his pistol, but wants Sheriff Pat Garrett for 22. But Garrett shoots Billy first
AUTHOR: Andrew Jenkins
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (recordings, Vernon Dalhart)
KEYWORDS: outlaw youth death police
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1859 - Birth in New York of William H. Bonney, the man most often labelled "Billy the Kid"
1880 - Death of William Bonney at the hands of Pat Garrett, who traced him to the home of a Mexican girlfriend
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Lomax-FSNA 202, "Billy the Kid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 137-138, "Billy the Kid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife-Cowboy/West 96, "Billy the Kid" (3 texts, 1 tune, but the "C" text is "Billy the Kid (II)")
Burt, p. 193, "(Song of Billy the Kid)" (1 excerpt)
Silber-FSWB, p. 208, "Billy the Kid" (1 text)
DT, BILLYKID

Roud #5097
RECORDINGS:
Vernon Dalhart, "Billy the Kid" (Columbia 15135-D, 1927) (Brunswick 100, 1927) (OKeh 45102, 1927) (one of these recordings is on RoughWays2, but we don't know which)
SAME TUNE:
So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh (File: Arn165)
Notes: This song has been (falsely) credited to Woody Guthrie, who recorded it in the 1940s. - PJS
Might this be because the tune has come to be better known as (the verse of) "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You"? - RBW
File: LoF202

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

The Ballad Index Copyright 2005 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Page 193 of Olive Wooley Burt's American Murder Ballads (1958) has just the last verse (as shown above), but it also has a good background summary:
    If Jesse James is the undisputed prince of American outlaws, his nearest rival is, without doubt, Billy the Kid. again it is difficult to understand why. Billy was a bucktoothed, unkempt, illiterate villain who went about shooting folks for the fun of it. But he is now New Mexico's hero and stands high in the estimation of many good people all over the country.
    According to tradition, Billy's first murder was committed at the ripe age of twelve, 'in defense of his mother's good name.' After numberous killings, the young outlaw was apprehended and imprisoned. He killed his two guards and escaped. At a celebration in Lincoln County, New Mexico, each year this escapade is re-created. Sheriff Pat Garrett finally lay in wait for the Kid and shot him as he came into a dark room. The Kid was carrying a drawn .41 Colt and a butcher knife, yet his killing roused the whole countryside against the sheriff, ruined his career as a law man, and his friends have told me, his disposition. These events are related in the "Song of Billy the Kid," which concludes with a mournful stanza:
    There's many a man with a face fine and fair
    Who starts out in life with a chance to be square,
    But just like poor Billy he wanders astray
    And loses his life in the very same way.

Same version is in Songs of the Great American West, by Irwin Silber and Earl Robinson (1967). The Silber-Robinson book says that Billy was born on Rivington Street of the Lower East Side of New York City on November 23, 1859. He moved to Kansas at the age of twelve, and was reputed to have killed 21 men by the time he reached the age of 21. He was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881, at Fort Sumner, New Mexico - not yet 22 years old.
This version is also in Silber & Silber's Folksinger's wordbook.

Thread #86636   Message #1612557
Posted By: Q
23-Nov-05 - 11:37 PM
Thread Name: DTStudy: Billy the Kid

Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid

A tune with the following version is said, by the Fifes, to work with the Henry Herbert Knibbs ballad. It is very close to the one in the DT and the one in Lomax and Lomax, 1934. Haas said he learned it in 1927. The Lomaxes credit a recording for their version, Victor No. 20396, no name mentioned. Music is the same as that in Fife and Fife and credited to Chuck Haas.

BILLY THE KID

I'll sing you a true song of Billy the Kid,
I'll sing of the desperate deeds that he did,
Out here in the West, boys, in New Mexico,
Where a man's best friend was his old Forty-four.

When Billy the Kid was a very young lad,
In Old Silver City he went to the bad;
At twelve years of age the Kid killed his first man,
Then blazed a wide trail with a gun in each hand.

Fair Mexican maidens played soft on guitars
And sang of Billito their king 'neath the stars;
He was a brave lover, and proud of his fame,
And no man could stand 'gainst the Kid's deadly aim.

Now Billy ranged wide, and his killings were vile;
He shot fast, and first, when his blood got a-rile,
And 'fore his young manhood did reach its sad end
His six-gun held notches for twenty-one men.

Then Gov'ner Lew Wallace sent word to the Kid
To ride in and talk, for a pardon to bid;
But Billy said: "I ain't a-feered of the law;
Thar's no man a-living can beat me in the draw.

The Gov'ner then sent for another fast man:
Pat Garrett, the Sheriff, and told of a plan
To catch Billy napping at his gal's; so he said:
"We'll bring him to Justice: alive or plumb dead!"

'Twas on that same night, into town Billy rid,
And said: "Mis amigos, all hark to the Kid!
There's twenty-one men I have put bullets through
And Sheriff Pat Garrett must make twenty-two!"

Now this is how Billy the Kid met his fate:
The bright moon was shining, the hour was late;
To Pete Maxwell's place Billy went in all pride,
Not knowing the dark hid the Sheriff inside.

As Billy show'd plain in the moon-lighted door,
He fell in his tracks, and lay dead on the floor;
Shot down by Pat Garrett, who once was his friend
Young Billy, the Outlaw, and his life did end!

There's many a boy with a fine face and air
That starts in his life and chances all fair;
But, like poor Billito, he wanders astray
And departs his life in the same hardful way.

    With music, piano and guitar, No. 96, pp. 265-266, Austin E. and Alta S. Fife, 1969, "Cowboy and Western Songs, a Comprehensive Anthology." Bramhall House, NY.

    Chuck Haas, silent film stunt man and sometime singer, said he got the song from Wyatt Earp in 1927. It is possible, since Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles in 1929, after many years prospecting, sometimes successfully, in Arizona and California. Pallbearers at Earp's funeral included Tom Mix and William S. Hart, long-time friends.

    In Santa Fe a tale is told that Billy's mother had a bakery there. A robber tried to steal her money and Billy killed him with a knife, his first killing. The story is fiction.


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Subject: ADD: Billy the Kid (2)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 03:32 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index has an entry for a second "Billy" song:

Billy the Kid (II)

DESCRIPTION: "Billy was a bad man And carried a big gun. He was always after greasers And kept them on the run." Billy shot a white man "every morning." But one day he met a worse man, "And now he's dead and we Ain't none the sadder."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1966
KEYWORDS: outlaw death police
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Fife-Cowboy/West 96, "Billy the Kid" (3 texts, 1 tune, but only the "C" text goes here)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 136-137, "Billy the Kid" (1 text)

Roud #5098
Notes: From the Fife text it is not clear whether this song actually refers to Billy the Kid; since Billy was white, it would appear not. But they may have other versions which imply otherwise. - RBW
File: FCW096C

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

The Ballad Index Copyright 2005 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Billy the Kid

Billy was a bad man
And carried a big gun
He was always after Greasers
And kept 'em on the run.

He shot one every morning,
For to make his morning meal.
And let a white man sass him,
He was shore to feel his steel.

He kept folks in hot water,
And he stole from many a stage;
And when he was full of liquor
He was always in a rage.

But one day he met a man
Who was a whole lot badder.
And now he's dead,
And we ain't none the sadder.

from John A. Lomax, Cowboy Songs (1910, 1916), page 344
(no tune, no background or source information)

This version is also found on page 136 of American Ballads and Folk Songs, by John and Alan Lomax (1934) - no tune or background or source information.


The same version is #96C from Cowboy and Western Songs: A Comprehensive Anthology, by Austin and Alta Fife, noted as coming from seven volumes from the private collection of Stella M. Hendren of Kooskia, Idaho. You'd think Lomax and the Hendren collection must come from the same source. No tune in the Fife book - anybody find one for this version?
OK, so we have the very same version in three sources, but no tune. Has anybody ever heard this version sung?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 04:13 PM

Andrew Jenkins made his main living as a gospel songster during a 1920s-30s radio career, along with his daughter and piano accompanist Irene, later Irene Spain. He also wrote "The Death of Floyd Collins" and a very interesting "Frank Dupree," and recorded secular material under the name of Gooby Jenkins. He seems to have been versatile, with various hidden sides to his musical personality.

Yes, his "Billy" tune was used by Woody for "So Long." It would be interesting to know whether the catchy melody was original with Jenkins (who wasn't ordinarily a particularly melodic guy; his tunes tend to be stodgy), or whether he got it from a previous source. It has a real nice border feel with just a touch of Mexican at the edges.

Always wondered about this song. It has not much of a folk touch, sounds slightly ersatz, yet is very compelling. It is very pop-sounding, has a real sweeping flair. Could Jenkins have taken it over from someone else? It just doesn't sound at all like his other work.

If it is fully his original work, he's a far better songwriter than he's usually given credit for. While "Billy" is in some ways mediocre composition, it's also unique, and sticks to the mind like a burr...the recipe for a good pop song.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 05:04 PM

A few accurate notes on William Bonney added to thread 86618: Happy- Bill Bonney


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 05:32 PM

I learned this song from Jim Morse's "Dell Book of Great American Folksongs" around 1963.

It's probably no coincidence that Jenkins recorded the song shortly after publication of the best-selling derring-do biography, "The Saga of Billy the Kid," by Walter Noble Burns (Garden City: Doubleday, 1926).

The prolific Burns was also author of "Tombstone: An Iliad [that's what it says] of the Southwest" (1927) and "The Robin Hood of El Dorado : The Saga of Joaquin Murrieta, Famous Outlaw of California's Age of Gold" (1932).

All three were reprinted in 1999 by the University of New Mexico Press, proof of their coolness.


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Subject: Lyr. Add: The Ballad of Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 05:59 PM

The Ballad of Billy the Kid
Henry Herbert Knibbs, 1958

No man in the West ever won such renown
As young Billy Bonney of Santa Fe town.
And of all the wild outlaws that met a bad end,
None so quick with a pistol or true to a friend.

It was in Silver City his first trouble came,
A man called Billy's mother a very foul name;
Billy swore to get even, his chance it came soon,
When he stabbed that young man in Joe Dyer's saloon.

He kissed his poor mother and fled from the scene,
A bold desperado and not yet fifteen;
He hid in a sheep-camp but short was his stay,
For he stole an old pony and rode far away.

At monte and faro he next took a hand,
And lived in Tucson on the fat of the land;
But the game was too easy, the life was too slow,
So he drifted alone into Old Mexico.

It was not very long before Billy came back,
With a notch in his gun and some gold in a sack;
He struck for the Pecos his comrades to see,
And they all rode to Lincoln and went on a spree.

There he met his friend Tunstall and hired as a hand
To fight with the braves of the Jingle-Bob brand;
Then Tunstall was murdered and left in his gore;
To avenge that foul murder Young Billy he swore.

First Morton and Baker he swiftly did kill,
Then he slaughtered Bill Roberts at Blazer's sawmill;
Sheriff Brady and Hindman in Lincoln he slew,
Then he rode to John Chisum's along with his crew.

There he stood of a posse and drove them away,
In McSween's house in Lincoln he made his next play;
Surrounded he fought till the house was burned down,
But he dashed through the flames and escaped from the town.

Young Billy rode north and Young Billy rode south,
He plundered and killed with a smile on his mouth,
But he always came back to Fort Sumner again
For his Mexican sweetheart was living there then.

His trackers were many, they followed him fast,
At Arroyo Tiván he was captured at last;
He was taken to Lincoln and put under guard,
And sentenced to hang in the old court-house yard.

J. Bell and Bob Ollinger watched day and night,
And Bob told Young Billy he'd made his last fight.
Young Billy gave Ollinger scarcely a glance,
But sat very still and awaited his chance.

One day he played cards with J. Bell in the room,
Who had no idea how close was his doom;
Billy slipped off a handcuff, hit Bell on the head,
Then he snatched for the pistol and shot him down dead.

Bob Ollinger heard and ran to the spot
To see what had happened and who had been shot;
Young Billy looked down from a window and fired,
Bob Ollinger sank to the ground and expired.

Then Young Billy escaped on a horse that was near,
As he rode forth from Lincoln he let out a cheer;
Though his foes they were many he feared not a one,
So long as a cartridge remained in his gum.

But his comrades they were dead or had fled from the land,
It was up to Young Billy to play a lone hand;
And Sheriff Pat Garrett he searched far and wide,
Never thinking the Kid in Fort Sumner would hide.

But when Garrett heard Billy was hiding in town,
He went to Pete Maxwell's when the sun had gone down;
The door was wide open, the night it was hot,
So Pat Garrett walked in and sat down by Pete's cot.

Young Billy had gone for to cut him some meat,
No hat on his head and no boots on his feet;
When he saw two strange men on the porch in the gloom,
He pulled his gun quick and backed into the room.

Billy said, "Who is that?" and he spoke Maxwell's name,
Then from Pat Garrett's pistol the answer it came-
The swift, cruel bullet went true to its mark,
And Young Bily fell dead on the floor in the dark.

So Young Billy Bonney he came to his end,
Shot down by Pat Garrett who once was his friend;
Though for coolness and courage both gunmen ranked high,
It was Fate that decided Young Billy should die.

Each year of his life was a notch in his gun,
For in twenty-one years he had slain twenty-one.
His grave is unmarked and by desert sands hid,
And so ends the true story of Billy the Kid.

Henry Herbert Knibbs, in: Austin and Alta Fife, 1970, "Ballads of the Great West," pp. 179-181.

A mixture of fact and fiction, but a good swing to the tale.

    No tune provided in the Fife book for this song, #97B, but they said it works well with the tune of the first DT version posted above (click). It also works with "Sweet Betsy from Pike." Mudcatter Lighter noted that Knibbs's poem appeared in the U.S. pulp magazine Short Stories (February 10, 1928), p. 146. It was reprinted in his Songs of the Lost Frontier (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1930).
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 06:27 PM

Burns books were popular, but contained many errors. I remember reading his "Saga of Billy The Kid" when I was a child. It fired my interest in Western history, so I can't condemm it. By far the best book is William A Keleher, 1957, "Violence in Lincoln County, 1969-1881, University of New Mexico Press. It is well-researched and summarizes the court records and newspaper accounts of the time.

Mentioned in Knibbs' ballad, John Tunstall, Alexander McSween, Pete Maxwell, and John S. Chisum were all employers of Billy at one time. All were good men; the first two lost their lives in the Lincoln County War. Maxwell, son of Lucien Maxwell of the fabulous land grant, died in 1898 and Chisum lost his ranch and died in Arkansas in the 1880s.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 07:44 PM

Q, that should be "1928," unless "1958" refers to the date when the Fife's collected it in the field. Knibbs's poem appeared in the U.S. pulp magazine Short Stories (February 10, 1928), p. 146. It was reprinted in his Songs of the Lost Frontier (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1930).

Along with other similarities, the line, "Shot down by Pat Garrett who once was his friend," is present in all three "Silver City" versions.

Knibbs's poem may have seen publication before 1927. Someone should look.
    Your correction matches what's in my Fife book, Lighter - I made the corrections in Q's post.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 10:12 PM

Here's how I learned it. I've been told it is close to how Woody Guthrie sang it, although I never heard his recording of the song.

I'll sing you the story of Billy the Kid,
And tell you of some of the bad things he did,
Way out in the West when our country was young,
When your gun was your law and your law was your gun.

The Mexican muchachas loved Billy so well,
How many he had nobody could tell,
With a cute señorita he came to his end,
Shot down by Pat Garrett who once was his friend.

Pat Garrett rode up to the window that night,
The sky it was clear and the moon it shone bright,
Pat listened a while while the Kid told his tale,
Of killing the guard at the Las Cruces jail.

While the couple made love Pat waited outside,
Then Billy he said, "I ain't satisfied.
There's twenty-one hombres I've put bullets through,
And Sheriff Pat Garrett will make twenty-two."

Then Pat Garrett fired, his thumb buster cracked,
And Billy plumb naked was blowed through the back,
Pat rode away, left the Kid lying dead,
And that's the way Billy was killed in his bed.

So I've sung you the story of Billy the Kid,
And told you of some of the bad things he did,
Way out in the West when our country was young,
When your gun was your law and your law was your gun.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 10:13 PM

My error- I skipped a line in the credit to Knibbs in the book by the Fifes. The ballad was copyright by Ida Julia Knibbs 1958 for the Houghton Mifflin printing of that date of "Songs of the Lost Frontier."
It should have read from "Songs of the Last Frontier," 1930, H-M Co.
I don't have information on hos poems published separately.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: 12-stringer
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 11:49 PM

As I recall hearing it, Jenkins' daughter read him the blurb from Book of the Month Club about the next selection, which was Walter Noble Burns' novel, and he composed the song from that and that alone. The historical content could equally as well have been gleaned from the dustjacket of "Saga," but I always understood it was the brochure the club sends out with the card you have to return if you don't want the book to be shipped automatically.

The version attributed to Wyatt Earp reminds me of the guy F J Child used to mention as always having a longer version of a ballad than anybody else (Peter Buchan, wasn't it?). Sounds like somebody just padded Blind Andy for purposes of their own. Jimmie Driftwood at least woulda read the book and worked up a narrative! This one just rambles around the barn. But Wyatt Earp hung around Hollywood in his later years, and a lot of stories were fathered on him. (John Ford claimed that the OK Corral gunfight as staged in My Darling Clementine was based on what Earp personally told him about it. Maybe Jack just wasn't listening very closely.)


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 12:58 AM

Does anyone know who should be credited with the recording mentioned by the Lomaxes, Victor 20396, in ABSF?. Someone should be able to run that one down. Could be Vernon Dalhart. In FSNA, the Lomaxes refer to the 1934 ABSF printing and say "as sung by 'Frank Crummit' (Crumit). No mention of record numbers.
Six verses, rather than the ten by Haas, are given in the Lomax volumes.

I haven't heard the Dalhart 1927 recording, so can't compare with the song from Haas in Fife and Fife.

Jenkins, credited in The Traditional Ballad Index, is mentioned neither by the Lomaxes or the Fifes. Was he mentioned on the Dalhart recording?

(Every version of the fight at the OK Corral is different. I would toss out those by any of the participants as untrustworthy.
In a movie, one side has to be good and the other bad. In reality, neither side was lily-white.)


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 01:13 AM

My post of the Chuck Haas song from Fife and Fife repeats the posting of the same song by Joe. These could be combined, and the comments combined in the same section.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 03:10 PM

No one seems to have information or music on Billy (II), "Billy was a badman and carried a big gun...," in the Traditional Ballad Index. Fife and Fife indicate that they have no music, and say it is from Hendren 695. Fifes say that this is from "seven volumes from the private collection of Stella M. Hendren of Kooskia, Idaho." This was written in 1969. Where is this collection now?

Extracts are in the Austin and Alta Fife Fieldwork Collection, Utah State University Folk Archives.

This version was first added to a revised edition of Cowboy Songs, John A. Lomax (1917 edition?). In a note in the 1938 revised edition of "Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads," where it is Version I, the Lomaxes state "Sent in 1911 to John B. Jones by Jim Marby, who inhabited a place near Tucson, Arizona, with Sam Niggertoe, his pet coyote, an animal Jim found a whole lot easier than any of his wives."

Is it about Billy Bonney or someone else? It doesn't mirror Billy the Kid-
-after Greasers- he associated with them.
-stole from many a stage- never done by Billy.
-full of liquor- Billy never drank to excess, according to interviews with people who knew him.
-Stayed out in the brush- Billy wasn't a loner, he stayed with someone even when on the run.
-Met a man who was a whole lot badder- His killing by Garrett was big news throughout the NM-AZ territories and beyond.

To me, it sounds like a ballad about a stage robber.
----------------------------------------------

The New Mexico State song, "O Fair New Mexico," was written by Pat Garrett's daughter. It is terrible! Guaranteed to empty a room.
"O fair New Mexico,
We love, we love you so;..."
(holds on O and fair)


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 09:44 PM

Here's some of what might've gone down in those other times:

Blind Andrew Jenkins wrote many topical songs with moral verses on the end. My old friend -- the roots music discographer, folklorist, collector, and scholar, Harlan Daniel, told me that often Jenkins   would sell the topical songs he made right after disasters and other newswothy current events for $5.00 each to people like Carson Robison. --- Robison would then copyright and take credit for writing those creations.

I was about to put a song called "The Hanging Of Charlie Birger" on my second LP album back in the late 1970s. This song, about a southen Illinois mob boss and gang leader, was one that Vernon Dalhart had recorded on a 78 rpm record---with attribution to Carson Robison. Before writing the notes, I ran this information past Harlan Daniel, and he told me that he was pretty sure the song had been written by Blind Andy (Andrew Jenkins)---complete with that signature moral verse on the end.

The holy bible shows us,
The straight and narrow way,
And if we do not heed it,
Sometime we'll have to pay,
We all must face the master,
Our final trial to stand,
And there we'll learn the meaning,
Of houses built on sand.


I haven't checked, but my complete earlier posted-in-this-forum version of "The Hanging Of Charlie Birger" in Benton, Illinois--1928--is probably in the DT by now.

In the liner notes for that song I included all of this info, and much more.-----Fascinating machinations and tangled webs were being woven back in them olden times of yore---just like today, I guess.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: 12-stringer
Date: 25 Nov 05 - 04:55 PM

Archie Green's Only A Miner (1972, U of Ill Press) has about 20 pp on Blind Andy Jenkins, mostly concerned with his song "Dream of the Miner's Child" but containing a lot of bio information. Mr Green's primary source was Jenkins' stepdaughter Irene Spain, who worked up his lead sheets. Per Mrs Spain, Polk Brockman, an Atlanta businessman who was instrumental (!) in starting the hillbilly recording biz, sent them the BOTMC brochure as a possible song inspiration. D K Wilgus also wrote up the ballad in a 1971 issue of Western Folklore, which probably remains the final word on the BTK song.

"BTK" was not an unusual nickname, and the "Negro" song in Lomax may refer to a different character altogether. Billy Claiborne, killed in the OK Corral gunfight, was known as BTK, and it seems to me that at least one other Arizona rowdy used the nickname as well. There's also a famous old handbill, I think from Las Vegas, NM, warning a bunch of colorfully-named gamblers and grifters out of town on the next stage, and a BTK is among the unwanted residents specified there. This dates from after the death of Henry McCarty, so it probably refers to yet another person of the same alias.

On the other hand, the "real" BTK drifted into dime novel land for many years after his death, so a song about him might not necessarily stick very closely to the facts. The bio signed by Pat Garrett fell out of sight for a long time, until Burns rewrote it as Saga and restored the historical character to the public eye. Not that Garrett's bio (actually written by Ash Upson, a peripatetic newspaperman of the day) was particularly factual!


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Nov 05 - 06:26 PM

The reference to Victor 20396 in Lomax is an error.

Checked the Victor Series 20000-20499. No "Billy the Kid."
Victor 20396 is piano music, Hans Barth, "Nautilus." (Dec. 1926)
In this series, Vernon Dalhart recorded "The Sad Lover" on 20387.

In the next series, Vernon Dalhart recorded "Billy the Kid" (B side)and "Jesse James" (A side) on Victor 20966. Recorded 4-12- 1927.

Victor Dates- Victor 78

Victor artists and dates 20500-21000 Artists 20500
Victor artists and dates 20000-20500 Artists 20000

Interesting that Vernon Dalhart recorded for both Columbia and Victor in 1927.


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Subject: ADD Version: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Nov 05 - 09:46 PM

BILLY THE KID
Jules Verne Allen

I'll sing you a true song, of Billy the Kid;
I'll sing of the des p'rate deed that he did;
'Way out in New Mexico long, long ago
When a man's only chance was his old forty four.

When Billy the Kid was a very young lad;
In old Silver City he went to the bad;
Way out in the west with a gun in his hand,
At the age of twelve years he killed his first man.

Fair Mexican maidens play guitars and sing;
A song about Billy their boy bandit king;
How, ere his young manhood had reached its sad end,
Had a notch on his pistol for twenty-one men.

'Twas on the same night that poor Billy died,
He said to his friends, "I'm not satisfied
There are twenty-one men I've put bullets through,
And Sheriff Pat Garrett must make twenty-two."

Now this is how Billy the Kid met his fate;
The bright moon was shining, the hour was late;
Shot down by Pat Garrett who once was his friend,
The young outlaw's life had come to its end.

There's many a man with face fine and fair,
Who starts out in life with a chance to be square;
But just like poor Billy, he wanders astray,
And loses his life the very same way.

Jules Verne Allen, 1933, "Cowboy Lore," pp. 163-164, with music.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 12:52 PM

In 2004, Gov. Bill Richardson added the State's support to an investigation of Billy's death (was it Billy who was killed?) by Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan and DeBaca County Sheriff Gary Gray. Plans included exhumation of the grave of Billy's mother in Silver City, and Billy's grave near Fort Stanton. Action on the plan has been put on hold.
A new book by Jay Miller, "Billy the Kid Rides Again," throws cold water on the proposal.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 02:23 PM

Re: The one version possibly being about another Billy:
Billy the Kid quickly became a mythic folk hero, with all the attendant exaggerations, distortions and confusions with other outlaw figures. Reports which reached people outside the region were likely to have undergone significant transformations, and the sensationalist journalism of Burns and his ilk did little to preserve historical accuracy.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 03:37 PM

Yes, but the version was collected in Arizona Territory in 1911, where people would be familiar with stories of Billy and other outlaws in both Territories. Thirty years after Billy's death, contemporaries of Billy were alive and embroidering the tale with their 'recollections' of the Lincoln County War. 12-stringer's supposition is not unlikely.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Acme
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 05:47 PM

From the Handbook of Texas Online MCCARTY, HENRY (1859-1881).

It's long, but I think it's worth posting. The link above is a durable link so may be cited as http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/MM/fmccd_print.html.

MCCARTY, HENRY (1859-1881). Henry McCarty (Billy the Kid, William H. Bonney) was born out of wedlock to Catherine McCarty in New York City on November 23, 1859. The prominent place he occupies in American frontier history and folklore is almost beyond explanation. The "Boy Bandit King's" dramatic escapades as a cattle rustler and gunslinger have continued to intrigue the public long after those of most of his contemporaries were forgotten. Some of his exploits occurred in the Texas Panhandle, which abounded in cattle and was always a good place to engage in the livestock trade, legal or otherwise. While legend has it that Billy the Kid's real name was William H. Bonney, scholars have determined that Bonney was simply one of a series of aliases used by the Kid. McCarty spent his youth in New York before venturing west with his mother and brother. Santa Fe County records show that his mother married William Antrim at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe on March 1, 1873-with her two sons, Henry and Joseph, in attendance. Afterward the family moved to Silver City, where Antrim worked in the mines and Catherine died of tuberculosis on September 16, 1874. The following year Henry, who apparently had developed a rebellious streak and sticky fingers, had his first brush with the law when Harvey Whitehill, the local sheriff, arrested him for stealing clothes from a Chinese laundry. Actually an older prankster, George Shaffer, had prodded Henry and another boy into hiding the bundle. At any rate Henry, fearing his stepfather's reaction, escaped from the Silver City jail and headed for Arizona. For two years he worked in Graham County as a farmhand, teamster, and cowboy under the name of Kid Antrim. His age, appearance, and size soon won him the sobriquet "Kid."

The Kid's first killing occurred in the settlement of Bonita, near Camp Grant, in August 1877. Frank P. Cahill, a local blacksmith, took delight in bullying the boy, and the two seem to have quarreled on a number of occasions. One day, however, the usual exchange of insults erupted into a fist fight which ended with the Kid fatally shooting his antagonist. Arrested once more, Kid Antrim again broke out of jail and fled to Mesilla, New Mexico, where he assumed the alias William H. Bonney and rode briefly with the Jesse Evans gang. His only fight with Indians occurred while he and a companion, Tom O'Keefe, were riding in the Guadalupe Mountains of eastern New Mexico. From there he drifted to Lincoln County, where he became acquainted with several area residents, including George and Frank Coe.

For a time Billy enjoyed the hospitality of John S. Chisum,qv who was then challenging the monopoly of Lawrence G. Murphy and his associates over government beef contracts in New Mexico. The Kid's direct involvement in the struggle started when he went to work for John Tunstall and Alexander McSween, leaders of the Chisum crowd. Bad relations between rival factions culminated in the murder of Tunstall by Murphy partisans on February 28, 1878. Billy was arrested by Sheriff William Brady, a Murphy tool, and consequently cast his lot with McSween and Dick Brewer, Tunstall's foreman. In the resultant feud, known as the Lincoln County War, Billy rode with a vigilante group called the Regulators, which had a cloak of legality since Brewer was the appointed constable. In March the Regulators captured two of Tunstall's murderers, whom Brewer wanted to incarcerate in Lincoln. However, both men were killed, probably by Billy, before they ever reached town, thus giving the Murphy faction another grievance against the McSween group. Later Billy and five companions ambushed and killed Sheriff Brady and his deputy, George Hindman, on Lincoln's main street.

On April 4, 1878, the Kid was involved in the gunfight at Blazer's Mill, on the southwest slopes of the Sacramento Mountains, where A. L. (Buckshot) Roberts, a Murphy partisan, killed Dick Brewer before he himself expired from bullet wounds. After that, Billy emerged as a leader among the McSween men. In July 1878 he participated in the "five-day battle" in Lincoln, where the Murphy partisans besieged the Regulators in McSween's home. McSween was killed, but Billy and the others escaped from the burning house. Thereafter, Billy and his cohorts used no restraint in continuing the fight against the "House of Murphy," whom the power structure in New Mexico endorsed as the victor. In August the Kid was present when Morris J. Bernstein, clerk at the Mescalero Indian agency, was killed. Afterward he stayed for a time at the Chisum ranch while he and his friends stole horses and cattle from known Murphy partisans.

Billy the Kid arrived in the Panhandle in the fall of 1878, after Chisum had sent some of his cattle to graze in the Canadian valley in the vicinity of Tascosa. Although not in Chisum's employ, Billy and four companions, Tom O'Folliard, Henry Brown, Fred Waite, and John Middleton, followed in the cattleman's wake, trailing approximately 125 stolen horses, which they planned to sell to Panhandle outfits. Billy intimidated Ellsworth Torrey, after the Boston rancher had run off the Kid's men for insulting his wife and daughters; otherwise the group was generally well-behaved during their stay in Tascosa and spent money freely. Although his reputation had preceded him, Billy soon made friends among Tascosa residents, notably a young transient doctor, Henry F. Hoyt,qv to whom the Kid sold Sheriff Brady's horse, Dandy Dick. By the winter of 1878-79, after selling the horses, Billy and Tom O'Folliard had returned to their home turf and soon added new members, including Charlie Bowdre and Dave Rudabaugh, to their rustling operation.

In the aftermath of the Lincoln County War, Lew Wallace, the new territorial governor of New Mexico, published a wanted list which included the Kid, who was implicated in the murder of Sheriff Brady. A momentary truce called in February 1879 ended when Murphy partisans killed a lawyer named Houston Chapman. Seeking to end the troubles once and for all, Governor Wallace arranged a meeting with the Kid and promised a full pardon for all charges against him in exchange for his testimony against Chapman's murderers. Assured that his own life was not endangered, Billy agreed to have himself placed in custody at Lincoln, but then Chapman's killers escaped. Nevertheless, Billy remained in custody until the spring of 1879, when many of the cases arising from the Lincoln County conflict came before the court. By arrangement with the governor he was allowed considerable freedom, but the pardon he hoped for was delayed. Growing impatient, Billy told his guards that he was tired of waiting, walked away from the store where he was being held, mounted a horse, and rode out of town as the guards watched. Billy remained on the loose for several months thereafter. Believing that he should be paid for his services to the Lincoln County Regulators, he tried to collect $500 from John Chisum. When the cattleman refused to pay, Billy vowed he would collect in some other way and from then on helped himself to Chisum's livestock. In January 1880 he killed a bounty hunter named Joe Grant in a saloon at Gallinas, after Grant's gun misfired. By then Billy the Kid and his gang were the bane of all cattlemen in the area and were part of the reason for the formation of the Panhandle Stock Associationqv in Mobeetie.

With a price of $500 on his head, the Kid was almost captured at the town of White Oaks, northwest of Lincoln. He escaped, however, and seems to have resurfaced at the Greathouse Ranch, where a man named Jim Carlyle died. Billy received the blame for that, and the new Lincoln County sheriff, Patrick Floyd Garrett,qv made catching the Kid his first priority. Late in November 1880, with a posse of Panhandle men, Garrett ambushed the gang at Fort Sumner and killed Tom O'Folliard. Billy and the other rustlers escaped, but a few days later the posse caught up with them at Stinking Springs, twenty-five miles from Fort Sumner. After a brisk gunfight, in which Charlie Bowdre was killed, Billy and three remaining cohorts surrendered. They were taken to the jail in Las Vegas, then to Santa Fe, before being moved to Mesilla for trial the following spring. There the Kid was initially charged with the shooting of Buckshot Roberts, but after that charge was dropped he was tried, convicted for the murder of Sheriff Brady, and sentenced to hang. He was then transferred to the courthouse and jail in Lincoln, but on April 28, 1881, he killed deputies John Bell and Robert Olinger and escaped.

Pat Garrett went on the Kid's trail again, this time aided by John W. Poe,qv who was acting as a special detective for the Panhandle Stock Association, and Thomas McKinney. At White Oaks in July 1881 Poe received an anonymous tip that Billy was hiding out at the home of Duvelina, an Indian slave and former sweetheart, at Fort Sumner. He immediately notified Garrett and McKinney, and the trio set out for that town. Unable at first to find a clue to the outlaw's whereabouts, Garrett consented to call on Pete Maxwell, whose ranch headquarters occupied the former United States Army post. On the night of July 14, 1881, Billy the Kid, who had been hiding out at a nearby Mexican sheep camp, moved on to the Maxwell Ranch to visit Celsa Gutierrez, his sweetheart. After removing his boots and other riding paraphernalia, Billy left Celsa's room, which was located in the long adobe building just south of the Maxwell home, to procure some of the fresh quarter of beef that was hanging on Maxwell's north porch. Taking a butcher knife and a pistol, the Kid walked along the inside of the picket fence in front of the house. Suddenly, he came upon the shadowy figures of Poe and McKinney, who were waiting there. Drawing his six-shooter, the Kid demanded to know who they were. Poe, not knowing who the man was, tried to reassure him, but Billy backed through the open door into the darkened bedroom, where Garrett was talking with Maxwell, repeating his demands in Spanish. Recognizing the voice and perhaps seeing the drawn gun, Garrett fired twice and killed him. Billy the Kid died without knowing who shot him. Maxwell and other Fort Sumner residents later admitted that they had been living in terror of the Kid and were afraid to inform on him.

McCarty was buried in the old military cemetery at Fort Sumner next to his "pals," Bowdre and O'Folliard, and near the grave of Lucien B. Maxwell. Even before his death, Billy's escapades had received nationwide attention through the National Police Gazette. Soon after his death, several "biographies" appeared in rapid succession, most notably Pat Garrett's Authentic Life of Billy the Kid (1882). Ghosted by Garrett's friend, Ash Upson, this book contained several errors and half-truths regarding Billy's early life and exploits. Over the years the Kid's image as a ruthless bandit who claimed twenty-one men, one for each year of his life, mellowed into that of an American Robin Hood, forced into crime by evil men. Even then, the accounts of Charles Siringo,qv Walter Noble Burns, and Miguel Antonio Otero relied heavily on Garrett and Upson's erroneous data. Several Hollywood westerns have portrayed Billy either as a cold-blooded killer or a good boy gone bad. The myth was enhanced even more during the 1950s when Ollie L. (Brushy Bill) Roberts, an elderly ex-lawman from Hamilton County, Texas, claimed that he was Billy the Kid and petitioned the governor of New Mexico for a pardon for crimes committed under that name. Although a hearing was granted through the efforts of Roberts's attorney, William V. Morrison, no conclusive proof was ever brought forth. John W. Poe's eyewitness account of the Kid's last moments also generated interest among scholars like Maurice Garland Fulton, William A. Keleher, and Ramon F. Adams, who have attempted to separate the facts from the gunsmoke of legend. Billy's grave remains Fort Sumner's chief attraction, and the citizens of Lincoln reenact the Kid's dramatic last jailbreak each summer.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Donald Cline, Alias Billy the Kid: The Man Behind the Legend (Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 1986). Leon C. Metz, Pat Garrett (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974). Frederick W. Nolan, The Lincoln County War: A Documentary History (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992). Jon Tuska, Billy the Kid: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1983). Robert Marshall Utley, Billy the Kid (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989). Robert M. Utley, Four Fighters of Lincoln County (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986).

---------------------------------------------H. Allen Anderson


The Handbook of Texas Online is a joint project of The General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin (http://www.lib.utexas.edu) and the Texas State Historical Association (http://www.tsha.utexas.edu).


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Acme
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 05:49 PM

This one is better (without the "print" format)
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/MM/fmccd.html


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: GUEST,Joe Moyes
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 10:50 AM

I would agree that woodie guthrie used the tune of billy the kid, the first time i heard the tune was by Tex ritter, and again by marty robbins


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Roberto
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 12:03 PM

My favourite recording of the song:

Billy The Kid
Vernon Dalhart

I'll sing you a true song of Billy the Kid
I'll sing of the desperate deeds that he did
'Way out in New Mexico, long, long ago
When a man's only chance was his own 44

When Billy the Kid was a very young lad
In old Silver City he went to the bad
Way out in the West with a gun in his hand
At the age of twelve years there he killed his first man

Fair Mexican maidens play guitars and sing
A song about Billy, their boy bandit king
How ere his young manhood had reached its sad end
Had a notch on his pistol for twenty-one men

'Twas on the same night when poor Billy died
He said to his friends, I am not satisfied
There are twenty-one men I have put bullets through
And sheriff Pat Garrett must make twenty-two

Now this is how Billy the Kid met his fate
The bright moon was shining, the hour was late
Shot down by Pat Garrett who once was his friend
The young outlaw's life had now come to its end

There's many a man with the face fine and fair
Who starts out in life with a chance to be square
But just like poor Billy he wanders astray
And looses his life in the very same way


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Amos
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 12:24 PM

In the New York Times today an interesting discussion on the issue of pardoning the Kid as part of a deal made when he was still going strong which was reneged upon.

A


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Billy the Kid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 01:37 PM

The Times article shows a woeful ignorance of the Lincoln County War and Billy Bonney.


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