Wednesday, September 11, 2019
This is one of my favorite Dylan songs. It is based on a centuries old folk song, The maid freed from the gallows and a 1930's Leadbelly song called The Gallis Pole. I went looking for the lyrics and found that they are all wrong online, even on the Bob Dylan site. I transcribed it correctly myself. You ever put a curse on anybody? I did once...
Old Reilly stole a stallion
But they caught him and they brought him back
And they laid him down on the jailhouse ground
With an iron chain around his neck.
Old Reilly's daughter got a message
That her father was goin' to hang.
She rode by night and came by morning
With gold and silver in her hand.
When the judge saw Reilly's daughter
His old eyes deepened in his head,
Sayin' "Gold will never free your father,
The price, my dear, is you instead."
"Oh I'm as good as dead, " cried Reilly,
"It's only you that he does crave
And my skin will surely crawl if he touches you at all.
Get on your horse and ride away."
"Oh father you will surely die
If I don't take the chance and try
To pay the price and not take your advice.
For that reason I will have to stay."
The gallow's shadows shook the evening,
In the night a hound dog bayed,
In the night the grounds were groanin',
In the dark the price was paid.
The next mornin' when she had awoken
She found that the judge had never spoken.
She saw that hangin' branch a-bendin',
She saw her father's body broken.
These be seven curses on a judge so cruel:
That one doctor can not save him,
That two eyes can not see him,
And that three healers cannot heal him.
That four ears can not hear him,
That five walls can not hide him,
That six diggers can not bury him
And that seven deaths shall never kill him.
Bob Dylan © 1963