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Now Bill, over here on bass--I'm sure you've heard of people who don't know nothing--he don't even suspect nothing - Lester Flatt, introducing the members of the Nashville Grass

Author Topic: Batson - Wilson "Stavin' Chain" Jones  (Read 2612 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Batson - Wilson "Stavin' Chain" Jones
« on: March 29, 2008, 10:37:00 AM »
I found an online version of the John and Alan Lomax book Our Singing Country with a full transcription of the words to "Batson" and thought I'd post all 38 verses (!) here. It's quite remarkable and makes one wonder what other ballads may have gone on for so many verses had the recordings generally not been limited to 3 minutes. The refrain actually has variations but I'm not going through to change everything. "Solemn dirge" and "shrieking in hopeless despair" is mostly romantic drivel IMO. The song is insistent and lively:

c. No. 95. Ace. on guitar and sung by Stavin' Chain, Lafayette, La., 1934.. Fiddle and guitar accompaniment.
Stavin' Chain said that this long, shuffling, and bloody story?whose tune and stanza form are evidently derived from "Frankie and Johnny"? concerns a Lake Charles, Louisiana, murder. Batson, he told us, was a white day laborer, accused of murdering his employer, Mr. Earle, along with his whole family. They were found in an open field with only a little red soil thrown over their bodies. Inquiry fails to confirm Stavin' Chain's story but no one who has ever heard him sing this wailing song with his guitar, at times beating a solemn dirge and then shrieking in hopeless despair can ever forget it. You've seen and felt a hanging. You notice, too, that the sympathies of the ballad singer rest wholly with the accused, not with his victim.  Here is "Batson":

Batson been working for Mr. Earle Six long years today,
And ever since he been working for Mr. Earle, He never have got a pay.
REFRAIN: Crying, "Oh, Mamma, I didn't done the crime."

Batson asked Mr. Earle, Can he take a walk,
Mr. Earle answered Batson, "You can go and come right back."

Batson hitched up Mr. Earle's Two bay horse and a wagon,
Took it back uptown to get him a load of feed.

When he got back to the house, onhitched those two bay mares,
And he walked on back uptown, See something he really liked.

He was walking down Ryan Street looking down in the showcase,
He thought he had something, Something what he really need.

'Bout the time he was looking in the showcase here come Mr. Henry Reese,
Mr. Sheriff, police come a-walking, Throwed two forty-fives in his face.

Mr. Henry Reese's deputy come a-runnin', slapped him across the face,
Says, "Stick 'em up, Batson, for we constitute you under arrest."

Batson asked Mr. Henry Reese, "What you arresting me for?"
Says, "That's all right, Batson, You know all about it yourself."

'Rested poor little Batson, they took him to the county jail,
And then the people begin to gather from miles and miles around.

When Batson got in the jailhouse, locked up in the place,
He took a pencil right in his hand, he marked every day he laid.

Batson told Mr. Sheriff, "Don't you know that's wrong?
You got me charged guilty unfriendly, And I know I ain't done the crime."
Cryin', "Oh, Mamma, I never harm no one."

Batson begin to cry, tell you what he did do,
You could hear old Batson crying Just like a baby child.

The day Batson cried, This is the words he said,
"You're trying me for murder, And I know I never harmed no one.

Well, the judge found him guilty, The clerk he wrote him down,
The jurymen passed the sentence, Poor Batson, he had to be hung.

Batson begin to wonder, Batson begin to moan,
Batson told his people, "You just have to leave your home."

"You may bring me coffee, You may bring me tea,
You got to bring me everything I want 'cept that black jailhouse key."

"Now you may dress in red, You may dress in black,
You may dress any color you want, But you'll never bring Batson back."

Batson's little girl begin to wonder, Batson's little girl begin to cry,
Batson's little child begin to ask him, "Daddy, what they going to do with you?"

Batson's mother cried, Batson's sister cry,
Batson's sister asked him, "When you coming back again?"

They brought poor Batson to the gallows, they brought him back to the hall,
Batson asked the judge if they going to take his life.

Batson asked the judge Was they going to take his life
Judge asked Mr. Batson, "Haven't you done that crime?"

Batson begin to moan, Batson begin to groan,
Batson begin to tell those people He'd never see home no more.

Batson told his brother, the day they brought him back at home,
Says, "If your brother has to lose his life, I tell you what I want you to do."

Batson asked the sheriff, he asked him that two, three times,
Says, "All I want you to do for me, take care of my two little girls."

Batson's mother cried, Batson's mother cried,
Batson's mother had tears a-running clean out of her eyes.

They brought him home to the gallows, they brought him back to the jail,
He started looking around over the people, To see 'em for the last, last time.

They brought his coffin. The day he come to die.
And he told the sheriff, "That's the last thing I'm going to lay down.

Then the priest told Batson, "Black box takes you down,"
Says, "Here comes your black box, You'll never rise again."

They put a black bonnet above his head, they put a rope right on his neck,
They put handcuffs on his hands, balls and chains on his foot.

The people begin to cry, "Umm-mm-mm, Um-mmmm-mmmm,
Poor Batson he is dead and gone."

The clear blood run out of his eyes, nobody they couldn't see his face,
Had a tongue stuck out out of his mouth, six inches long.

A rubber-tired buggy, Decorated horse,
You know they brought Batson to the graveyard, Says, they brought his family back.

His wife walked up to the grave, Fell down on her knees,
Says, "Lord, have mercy," Says, "Batson, are you gone?"

Batson's wife began to pray, pray as hard as she could.
Prayed so much until it looked like The Lord done answered her prayer.

I thought I heard somebody say awhile before she left,
Says, "You're goin? leave me, But I'll meet you some lonesome day."

Batson's little girl cry, Batson's little child cry,
That's all he asked them people, "Take keer of them two little girls."

Um-mmm, Um-mmm-mmm, Um-mmm,
The tears run out of his eyes.

Think I heared somebody say, "Bye-bye, Batson, bye-bye,
Bye-bye, Batson, bye-bye"? And I believe he's dead and gone.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 06:54:42 AM by Johnm »

Tags: Wilson Jones 

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