Lyr Add: Jesse James III
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Lyr Add: Jesse James III


Related threads:
Who was Billy Gashade (12)
(origins) Origins: Jesse James I (83)
Lyr Req: Title= A song about Robert Ford (12)
Lyr Add: Jesse James II (4)
Lyr Add: Jesse James IV (3)
Related tune: Jesse James (1)

Joe Offer 02 Aug 04 - 05:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 05:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 06:03 PM
Joe Offer 02 Aug 04 - 06:29 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 04 - 06:39 PM
Joe Offer 02 Aug 04 - 06:44 PM
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Subject: ADD: Jesse James III
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 05:24 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index has seven different Jesse James songs listed. This is the entry for the third one.

Jesse James (III)

DESCRIPTION: Jesse's home life is described: "His mother she was elderly; his father was a preacher." Bob Ford, described as an inept train robber, is shown in consultation with the governor. Ford kills James, but is shot by a drunken cowboy
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (Belden)
KEYWORDS: outlaw death betrayal family
Apr 4, 1882 - Shooting of Jesse James (then in semi-retirement under the name of Howard) by Robert Ford, a relative and a former member of his gang tempted by the $10,000 reward
1892 - Robert Ford is killed in a barroom brawl in Creede, Colorado
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Belden, pp. 401-404, "Jesse James" (3 texts, of which only the third is this song)
Friedman, p. 377, "Jesse James" (2 texts, but only the second is this ballad; the first is Jesse James I)

Roud #7819
cf. "Jesse James (I)" [Laws E1] and references there
Notes: This ballad includes several accurate details of James's life not found elsewhere: The fact that his mother had her arm blown off (by Pinkertons in 1875); "Governor C"=Governor Crittenden; and the fact that Robert Ford also died by gunfire. - RBW
File: FR379

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

    Jesse James was one of his names, another it was Howard.
    He robbed the rich of every stitch. You bet, he was no coward.

    His mother she was elderly, his father was a preacher,
    Though some do say, I can't gainsay, his mother was his teacher.

    Her strong right arm it came to harm. Detectives blew it off, sir,
    And killed her son, the youngest one. No wonder such she'd scoff, sir.

    My Jesse dear, your mother here has taught more than she ought ter,
    For Robert Ford, I pledge my word, has marked you for his slaughter.

    For robbing trains Bob had no brains, unless Jess plainly showed him.
    Our governor for peace or war explained this for to goad him.

    So Robert Ford he scratched his gourd, and then he said 'I'll go you,
    Give me a price that's something nice, and then, by gee, I'll show you!

    Then Governor C.* he laughed with glee and fixed a price to suit him,
    And Bob agreed, with ready speed, to find Jess James and shoot him.

    And then he did as he was bid and shot Jess in the back, sir,
    Then ran away on that same day, for cash he did not lack, sir.

    He did his best to live out west, but no one was his friend there.
    'You've killed your cousin,' they went buzzin', however free he'd spend there.

    And then one day, the papers say, Bob Ford got his rewarding:
    A cowboy drunk his heart did plunk. As you do you'll git according.

    *It was Governor Crittenden who offered the $10,000 reward for the capture of Jesse James.

Source: Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folklore Society, H.M. Belden, 1940

No title. Given me (Belden) in 1916 by Miss Mary Alicia Owen of St. Joseph, president of the Missouri Folk-Lore Society, with the notation: 'I heard it from a man who dug some post-holes for us. He said everybody used to sing it.'

Belden does not provide a tune. Anybody know of one?
-Joe Offer-

Note the "Friedman" citation in the Traditional Ballad Index - this is The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World, Edited by Albert B. Friedman (1956). This books was reprinted in the UK as the Penguin Book of etc... Here's what Friedman says about this version:
    The standard version of “Jesse James” (A, from Belden, p. 402) is signed in the final stanza by Billy Gashade, an unidentified person, possibly the minstrel that set the piece afloat. Text B (Belden, p. 403), an unusual version taken down in 1916 in St. Joseph, bristles with authentic detail. For example, it is true that Jesse’s mother, Mrs. Zerelda Samuel, lost her arm when Pinkerton detectives bombed the James homestead in 1875. Her youngest son, as the ballad says, was killed in the explosion. “Governor C” represents Governor Crittenden. And Ford was indeed “plunked” in a barroom brawl—in Creede, Colorado, in 1892.

Q posted a similar text here (click)

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Subject: RE: lyrics: Jesse James III
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 05:58 PM

The website where I found the lyrics says "Kristopherson makes it fit the tune that we all know so well." Earlier melody??

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Subject: RE: lyrics: Jesse James III
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 06:03 PM

Joe, there is a Jessie James 3 in the DT, not the same.

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Subject: RE: lyrics: Jesse James III
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 06:29 PM

Yeah, I couldn't quite figure out how to handle that, Q. The "James (3)" in the Digital Tradition is a very different version, from McNeil's Southern Folk Ballads. I decided to follow the division set forth in the Traditional Ballad Index, and use that to sort out all the various Jesse songs. I'll set up one thread for most of the seven songs covered by the Index. Jesse James II is the thread for the song called (3) in the Digital Tradition.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: lyrics: Jesse James III
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 06:39 PM

Joe, a category VIII for the Guthrie version? I wonder what his tune was.
Fife and Fife remark on the "intricate interlinking of texts and tunes."

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Subject: RE: lyrics: Jesse James III
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 06:44 PM

For now, Q, let's leave Woody's "Jesse" in the First Jesse Thread where you put it. Note that I also put Jesse James (VI -- "I Wonder Where My Poor Old Jesse's Gone") in that thread. Composed songs aren't as likely to have multiple versions, so maybe they don't need a separate thread.
-Joe Offer-

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