Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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Less of the searing quality in Statesboro Blues; this song has a great narrative and some living word pictures.

I've transliterated this version of the song here, because I wanted to track this thread of pleasure in this dyin' man's mind. I had to do some guesswork; I checked my words against this great Willie McTell lyrics site; we didn't agree on everything, maybe we have different versions. They have some great research up about the song.

Dyin' Crapshooters Blues
sung by: Blind Willie McTell (1949)

little Jesse was a gambler
night and day
well he used crooked cards and dice

Sinful guy, good hearted but had no soul
heart was hard and cold like ice

Jesse was a wild reckless gambler
he won a game of shame (change?)
got a many gambler's heart he lead in pain (?)

when he began to spend and lose his money
he began to be blue and all alone
but boys his heart had even turned to stone

what broke Jesse's heart
while he was blue and all alone
sweet loreen had packed up and gone

police walked up and shot my friend Jesse down
boy I got to die today

he had a gang of crapshooters and gamblers
at his bedside

here are the words he had to say

I guess I ought to know
exactly how I want to go

how you want to go Jesse?

eight crap shooters to be my pall bearers
let 'em be veiled down in black
I want nine men going to the graveyard buddy
and eight men coming back

I want a gang of gamblers gathered around my coffin-side
a crooked card planted on my hearse

don't say the crapshooters will never grieve over me
my life been a doggone curse

Send poker players to the graveyard
dig my grave with the ace of spades
I want twelve polices in my funeral march
high sherriff playing blackjack lead the parade

I want the judge and solicitor who jailed me fourteen times
a pair of dice in my shoes

and what else?

Let a deck of cards be my tombstone buddy
I got the dyin' crapshooters blues

Sixteen real good crapshooters
sixteen bootleggers to sing a song
Sixteen racketmen gambling,
Couple tend bar while I'm rolling along

he wanted twenty-two womens out of the hampton hotel
twenty-six offa south bell
twenty nine women outta north atlanta
know that jesse didn't pass out so swell

now his head was achin'
heart was thumpin'
jesse went down bouncin' and jumpin'

Folks don't be standing around with Jesse cryin' -
He wants everyone to do the charlston while he's dyin'

One foot up and a toenail draggin'
Throw my friend Jesse in the Hoodoo wagon
Come here Mama with that can of booze

Dyin' crapshooters blues I mean
the dyin' crapshooters blues.

Willie McTell | blooz | muzzik | life

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