Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Lyr Req/Add: The Prison Fire

Duke 20 Oct 06 - 10:20 AM
Sorcha 20 Oct 06 - 12:09 PM
Peace 20 Oct 06 - 01:52 PM
12-stringer 20 Oct 06 - 02:11 PM
Duke 20 Oct 06 - 02:38 PM
Sorcha 20 Oct 06 - 02:43 PM
12-stringer 20 Oct 06 - 06:05 PM
Bob the Postman 20 Oct 06 - 08:08 PM
Peace 20 Oct 06 - 08:14 PM
Duke 20 Oct 06 - 09:44 PM
Jim Dixon 22 Oct 06 - 08:44 PM
Jim Dixon 24 Oct 06 - 11:29 PM
Jim Dixon 26 Oct 14 - 01:44 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Duke
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 10:20 AM

Looking for the lyrics to the Prison Fire.

Locked in the cells of a prison, a prison much too small...etc

Any help would be appreciated.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 12:09 PM

More info needed. Artist, time period, geography, etc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Peace
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 01:52 PM

Is it about the fire of 1884 in Stillwater?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: 12-stringer
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 02:11 PM

No, it's the 1930 fire at the Columbus Prison in Ohio. Carson Robison wrote the song, and there were about a dozen recordings, mostly by CJR under pseudonyms, for various hillbilly labels, made the last week of April 1930.

With a little search I found the first 2 verses of the song via the Wayback Machine (the page Google comes up with no longer exists), but there was more to it than this. I used to have the song on 78 but it broke many years ago.

Locked in the cells of a prison
A prison much too small
Convicts were jammed and crowded
Within that cold gray wall
Four thousand men were living
As only rats should dwell
Iron bars all around them
Living a life of hell

All kinds of men thrown together
Some that were bad from the start
Others who got into trouble
Men really good at heart
Some of them only waiting
For death to bring the end
Others who longed for freedom
To start their lives again

The Carson Robison Papers are at Pittsburg University, in Kansas and include both printed and manuscript copies of "The Prison Fire." Whether they'd be willing to photocopy it for you is something you'd have to ask the Special Collections Department there.
http://library.pittstate.edu/spcoll/ndxrobison.html

This site offers a 1932 CJR songbook, with the tune, for $35
http://www.the-forum.com/EPHEMERA/country1.htm
May be higher than your interest in the song, however!

One of the Robison 78s of this song is available on CD here, but it's from Germany
http://www.dagmar-anita-binge.de/ccd207-208.htm


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Duke
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 02:38 PM

That's the song, for sure. Thanks very much for the information. I had the 78 when I was a kid and for some reason the song has been in my mind ever since.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 02:43 PM

Glad that is settled! :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: 12-stringer
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 06:05 PM

Sketch of the incident is given here:
http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=558
but not the text of the song.

The fire took place on 21 April 1930. Just 4 days later Robison was making the rounds of the NY recording studios with a song about it. The loss of life was extreme, and Robison's song is very empathetic with the inmates.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE OHIO PRISON FIRE
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 08:08 PM

Here is the text from a recording of "The Ohio Prison Fire" by Frank Luther who sure does sound a lot like Carson J. Robison--from a compilation CD called "True Songs Of Tragedy" distributed by The Music Barn.

THE OHIO PRISON FIRE

Locked in the cells of a prison
A prison much too small
Convicts were jammed and crowded
Within that cold gray wall
Four thousand men were living
As only rats should dwell
Iron bars all around them
Living a life of hell

All kinds of men thrown together
Some that were bad from the start
Others who got into trouble
Men really good at heart
Some of them only waiting
For death to bring the end
Others who longed for freedom
To start their lives again

Then came a night of disaster
When all the world held its breath
Fire broke out in the prison
Bringing destruction and death
Iron doors were locked on the convicts
Guards found the keys too late
Three hundred lives were taken
Three hundred souls met their fate

Burned in the minds of the rescued
That scene will never die
Men praying God to release them
Men giving up to die
Men who forgot they were convicts
Struggled with all their might
And in the hell of that prison
Heroes were found that night

Three hundred lives have been taken
And someone should have to pay
For we know that someone has blundered
When men must die this way
Each one was God's own creation
Each with a heart and soul
And God don't want even convicts
To die like rats in a hole


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Peace
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 08:14 PM

Wonderful.

PLEASE get the above post as



LYRIC ADDED


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Duke
Date: 20 Oct 06 - 09:44 PM

Bob the postman.......thanks very much..duke


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 08:44 PM

The Online 78 rpm Discographical Project lists recordings of OHIO PRISON FIRE by B & C Barnes, Bob Miller, Miller & Burnett, and Carson Robison.

About the fire itself, The Ohio Historical Society has only this to say:
    [I]n 1930 the Ohio Penitentiary [in Columbus] became the site of the worst fire in an American prison in history. At total of 322 lives were lost in the fire.
There is more information at The Morning Journal (of Lorain, OH). An excerpt:
    The state's largest prison was at 300 percent capacity with about 4,300 inmates when the fire broke out about 5:30 p.m. on the day after Easter. Firefighters responded when someone called in an alarm from outside the prison about 15 minutes after it started. A breakdown in command kept guards from unlocking the cell doors. Those who were killed were trapped as if in "a giant bird cage," according to a report to Gov. Myers Y. Cooper by a task force led by Attorney General Gilbert Bettman. Columbus Fire Chief A. E. Nice said no one would have died if the inmates had been let out of their cells.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Prison Fire
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 24 Oct 06 - 11:29 PM

Oops! I missed 12-stringer's post above. I see The Ohio Historical Society had more to say about the fire than I gave them credit for.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE OHIO PRISON FIRE (Bob Miller)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 01:44 AM

Here's another song with the same title and subject matter. I heard it via Spotify, from an album called "Self-Destruction Blues: Drinkin', Smokin' & Murder." The song has a rather bizarre dramatic interlude:


THE OHIO PRISON FIRE
Words and music by Miller and Mahoney
As performed by Bob & Charlotte Miller on Okeh 45442, recorded ca. 24 April 1930.

Cries of "Fire!" filled the air.
Maddened men ran everywhere,
In that big Ohio prison tragedy.
Ways to safety were all blocked.
Many cells were barred and locked,
And the raging flames brought death and agony.

Frantic convicts begged for air.
Many were cremated there.
Oh, the horror of that scene! The moans and pleas!
While the red inferno raged,
Human beings, trapped and caged,
How they prayed and cried to God on bended knees!

Picture an old lady there,
Climbing up the smold'ring stair,
Looking for her boy, a victim of the flames.
Now her tears are falling fast,
And she finds her son at last.
All a-tremble she looks on his charred remains.

(Sound of woman crying--violin in background)

Man's gruff voice: Is this your son's body, lady?

Woman's voice: (crying all the while) Oh, this might be him.—Oh, he's little and frail like that.—Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy, it's Mother, Honey, Mother.—Oh, Mother knows you were good.—You were always good to Mother, weren't you dear?

Man's voice: Can you identify this body?

Woman: (still weeping) Oh, sure, sure, I'll take him.—I'll take my boy back now.—The state's finished with him.—The state's finished with all of these bodies, these poor charred bodies.—Oh, who's to blame for this awful, awful thing? Who's to blame?--(now hysterical) Oh, bodies, bodies, bodies! I can't stand it! I can't stand it! I can't stand it! (Fade out)

Now the state so graciously
Gives his body back to her,
After life has flown and he has paid the toll.
Prison bars kept them apart,
Kept him from her lonely heart,
But they can't imprison his immortal soul.

Oh, society may sneer
At these convicts lying here.
After all, they're human, be they what they may.
Judge not each man for his crime,
For we'll all be judged sometime,
When the Master calls us on the Judgment Day.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 18 September 2:05 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.