Ballad of Wild Bill Hickock
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
Contact Publisher - Woody Guthrie Publications/BMG Chrysalis

Well, I’ll sing you a song of the days that are gone
When your rambling was rough and your law was your gun;
When your life was a gamble, make it ace, deuce, or trey,
And the men of the past made the men of today.

Yes, the west it was wild and the west it was gay,
And the men of the past made the men of today,
‘Bout the best chance you had was your old ’44,
‘Cause your gun was your order and your draw was your law.

Some men made connections and some missed the draw,
And some men believed it was order and law;
The law it was hard and the order was tame,
But the good men and bad men they both won their fame.

Some men was cowards and some men was brave,
But the brave men and cowards are asleep in their grave;
The women was tough and so was the boys,
But the toughest of all come from north Illinoise.

From a quiet country town up in north Illinois,
Come the roughest and toughest of all of the boys;
His last name was Hickcock, his first name was Jim,
And Jim liked to hunt and to ride and to swim.

When he was a boy and all his life long
He liked what was right and he hated what’s wrong;
‘Twas from liking what’s right and from hating what’s wrong
That bullets hummed ’round him his whole life long.

Well, young Jim Hickcock, a kid of fif-teen,
The shooting and whistling of bullets he seen;
More than most men in a life time see,
And he had a hard life an he hit the hard way.

Bullets a whistlin’ to th’ left, and a whistlin’ to th’ right,
No use to be afraid when you can hear them go by;
They was hard hittin’, straight shootin’, hard fightin’ men
And Jim met them all at the age of fif-teen.

It was old Charley Hudson, was a mule skinnin’ man,
Old Charley was a bully and th’ kid called his hand;
Well, Charley hit th’ river, didn’t come up on time,
And th’ kid lit a shuck for th’ old Kansas Line.

Now Kansas was new and Kansas was tough;
And Mr. McCanles thought that Hickcock would bluff;
He blowed down McCanles and brought him his end,
Killed two of his men just a few days from then.

In Kansas your gun and your draw was your rule,
Your big ’44 was your college and school;
They made Jim the marshall of Independence town,
He tried to bring Law and Order around.

In old Independence at a wild Lynchin’ riot,
Jim Hickcock rode down just to put down the fight,
A lady she hollered, “Hooray for Wild Bill!”
And Wild Bill Hickcock, th’ name’s with ’im still.

Down yonder the big Civil War it broke out,
Wild Bill was about th’ best of th’ scouts,
He scouted around and was a doin’ just fine
Till they arrested him in back of th’ Confederate Line.

Bill got out of that Confederate Calaboose,
The war got over and he went on th’ Loose,
He slept with th’ coyotes and rode o’er th’ plains,
And he rode through the Indians to Kansas again.

They was outlaws and bad men and rustlers a pity
When they made him Marshall of old Hays City,
And th’ Thumb-bustin’ six shooters roared around,
But Bill didn’t quit till he cleaned up th’ town.

They was outlaws and bad men and rustlers a pity,
Tom Custer’s gang was a runnin’ Hays City;
It was three Custer bullies that Bill blowed down,
And Bill didn’t quit till he cleaned up th’ town.

Yes th’ good boys was tough an’ th’ bad men was mean
When they made him Sheriff down at old Abilene;
Mike Williams, his deputy, he killed by mistake,
And he laid old Phil Coe in his long, lonesome grave.

Deadwood town was a gold minin’ place,
Wild Bill had a feelin’ he’d about run his race;
Well, he set down to poker, his hat o’er his face,
And he drawed a full house of aces and eights.

Aces and eights is a dead man’s hand,
Wild Bill had a feelin’ this was his last stand;
And he set in th’ game with his back to th’ door,
He was shot in th’ back by little Jack McCall.

Calamity Jane she saw Wild Bill fall,
And she swore she would kill that coward McCall,
Little Jack made a run, but he run too slow,
’Cause she laid him low with Bill’s ‘44.

I’ve told you my story, I’ve sung you my song,
Of Wild Bill Hickcock and all that he done,
I might be right and I might be wrong,
But the DuPont boys had me write up this song.

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