Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Seven Curses

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

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