Do not go where the path may lead, go where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Band of Lost Souls Lyrics

Songs written with input from Mike Seeger, members of the Levon Helm Band, Beat Poets Charles Plymell and Robert Branmen on the Jesse James tunes, (who's not only a Beat Poet but the Great-Grandson of Cole Younger.

With photos of band members with both the Lost Souls and Kill City by Thoma Roberson Parker.

Whistlin' Dixie With Levon
a tribute to Levon Helm

Some people do so much good they're never really gone.
A little part of 'em always keeps on keepin' on.
It's actually a lot like Mr. Dylan's songs.
And I don't really know how to feel now that Levon's gone.


But I know there's a choir of angels singin' with the spirit of Jesse James.
And Annie's takin' a load off right by the pearly gates.
I'll bet the first thing Heaven said was, "Why'd you make us wait?"
And Levon's grinnin' and sayin', "Hell, I thought I was late."


Heaven's got a brighter angel now that Levon's there.
And the horns are paradin', led by Clarke Gayton.
Lonesome Liz is in a long, black veil.
Byron and the rest'll go to Acapulco
when the night winds wail.
There's a lot more to it than that
but I don't like tellin' tales.

El Diablo's still got an accordion but Levon's gone.Ain't it funny how you never quite have enough time
to do all the things you want?
Funny life can't be more kind.
But I got a feelin' everything's gonna be just fine.

'Cause Heaven's got a brighter angel now that Levon's there.
Still, I don't really know how to feel now that Levon's gone.


Some people by the time you finally catch up with them, they're gone.
Some might do you right and some others might do you wrong.
Best you can hope's your weight ain't too heavy
and the road, it ain't too long.


And I don't really know how to feel now that Levon's gone.
But Heaven's got a brighter angel now that Levon's there.
He's whistlin' 'Old Dixie' with the spirit of Jesse James.

Ain't No Grave
Traditional

Ain't no grave gonna hold my body down,
there ain't no grave gonna hold my body down.
(3x)

When I hear that trumpet sound
I'm gonna rise right outta the ground.
Ain't no grave gonna hold my body down.

Look way down the river
what do you think I see?
I see a band of angels and they're comin' after me.
But there ain't no grave gonna hold my body down.

Ain't no grave etc

Look way yonder Gabriel,
put your feet on the land and sea.
Gabriel don't you blow your trumpet
till you hear from me
'cause there ain't no grave gonna hold my body down.

When I hear that trumpet sound etc.

Meet me Jesus meet me.
Meet me in the middle of the air.
If these wings don't fail me
I will meet you anywhere.
'Cause there ain't no grave etc.

When I hear that trumpet sound etc.

John Hardy's Hangin' Ground
John Hardy was hung for killing a man afer he'd bet his last dollar and lost in an illegal gambling game held in a mine near Hinton, WVA. Witnesses said he sang a beautiful, haunting song just before he died.

See more songs about  John Hardy, including versions by Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead here.
Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson play John Hardy.

I'm on my hanging ground.
I'm on my hanging ground.
I've travelled this wide world 'round.
Now I guess I'm going to hang around.

There's a girl glad to see me go.
There's a girl glad to see me go.
There's another says she loves me so she'll follow.
But I don't know where I'll go
from my hanging ground.

Was my last dollar I'd played.
I pulled my gun when he pulled a straight.
I laid him in his lonley grave.
I laid him in his cold, cold grave.

Guns they don't tell no lies.
No, guns they don't tell no lies.
And I can't help but cry
'cause I'm bound to die.
I'm on my hanging ground.

I almost got away.
I hopeed on a west bound train
to where noone knew my name.
Sheriff got me anyway.

Now I'm on my hanging ground.
I'm on my hanging ground.
I've travelled this wide world 'round.
Now I guess I'll just hang around.

Stag Lee
Over 200 versions of this song exist. Read more about the characters in history here.
Lonesome Liz, Stagger Lee. Grateful Dead, Stagger Lee.

A lot of people told you about Stagger Lee,
I think it's time you heard it from me.
He was mean and he was hard.
He met the Devil in a Voodoo graveyard.

Devil sold him a banjo. Devil sold him a hat.
He said even  I can't get you if you're wearin' that.
Oh he was bad, he'd do you wrong.
You know he shot his own wife for cookin' eggs too long.

He had him a woman so fine just lookin' made you holler,
best gambler in town, they called her Stack O' Dollars.
They never lost a game in that underground mine
run by that fool boy Billy de Lyons.

'Till they started losin one cold stormy night,
Stag and Billy, Lord they had a fight!
Billy shot a seven. Stack O' Dollars said she'd pass.
Stag said to him, "You done shot your last."

They each had 'em a .44.
Stack O' Dollars was lookin' at the door.
She said, "What would you do if that Devil walked in here?"
De Lyons tried to act like he won't scared.

Then boom! Boom! Boom! Went a .44
then De Lyon's lyin' dyin' on the floor.

The Sheriff was there gamblin'. The Deputy was too.
Billy said to them in the last breath he blew,
"Deputy, Sheriff, why it be
you arrest everybody but old Stagger Lee?"

They took their badges and laid them on a shelf.
They said, "If you want to get him, go get him yourself.
Or go wait for him in hell. He ain't gonna stay in jail.
The Devil's posted Stagger Lee's everlasting bail.

Billy had a pretty widow. Once he was in the ground
it won't too long before old Stag came around.
He took off his black boots, he took off his black tie.
He wouldn't take off that black hat 'cause he won't about to die.

But that De Lyon's woman knocked that hat right off his head.
She snuggled up with a Gatlin gun and shot him dead.

He went down to the Devil and the Devil he smiled.
He said, "Boy, you lost your hat. You're gonna fry a while.
And stuck to you like a shadow, mornin', noon and night
is gonna be De Lyon's cryin', 'Took my life. Won't take my wife.

Frankie Silver
based on the traditional murder ballad, 'Frankie Silver' and related newspaper articles from the time of the crime. 

Frankie Silver's swingin' on the gallows.
Frankie Silver's swingin' on the gallows.

Sheriff Joe called Conjure Jim,
"Bring your witchin' ball." He told him.
"Bring your Hoodoo Roots. Bring your Juju Juice.
"'Cause no one knows what Frankie Silver did.
"Come conjure out whatever it is she hid."

Conjure Jim, he said, "Sheriff man,
"I'm not really sure I can. 
Storm's blowin' high.
There's a darkenin' sky.
And I don't care what Frankie Silver's done.
Just 'cause you call that don't mean Old Jim runs."

There's chickens in the storm.
There's coyotes in the barn.
A murder of crows is clawin' at the trees.

Conjure Jim he said, "Sheriff Man, how much will you pay me?
Let me make sure I won't get more from that cryin' lady.

He spit some whiskey on the floor.
He scratched weird patterns on the door.
He tossed his witchin' ball all to and fro.
Soon Frankie Silver's swingin' on the gallows.

There's chickens in the storm etc

Pretty soon they knew what Frankie did.
Old Conjure Jim won't let nothin' stay hid.
Her innocence became real hard to swallow.
Now Frankie Silver's swingin' on the gallows. (3x)

Wandering William

Uncle William wandered all over the place
till he fell in love. Then he stayed.
A baby on the way, he tried to settle down.

Maybe he didn't know what he wanted,
didn't know by what but knew he was haunted.
Maybe it had t od owith reasons he'd first gone.
Or maybe a wanderin' man just keeps movin' on.

It might have been another life.
It might have been the farm, the baby, the wife.
It might have killed him.
But he needed to be free, oh wandering William.

He stayed on until the baby was born,
I guess he didn't want to leave his wife alone.
He only left on Saturday's to go to the general store.
One day Uncle William walked right out the door.
He never again walked back in anymore.

It might have been another life.
It might have been the farm, the baby, the wife.
It might have killed him.
But he needed to be free, oh wandering William.

Great-Granddaddy came by later on,
he saw the buggy and the mule, saw Uncle William was gone.
He saw the mule needed feeding, so he walked to the tobacco barn.

He found Uncle William left his baby and wife.
What was left of him slumped over a furnace pipe.
A gun in his hand, William wandered on.
I guess a wandrin' man just keeps movin' on.


I Was Drinkin' Beer When the Whiskey Took Over
written with Hank Brewer

I was drinkin' beer when the whiskey took over.
Woke up this mornin' in jail in Hanover.
It's been a long time since I was sober.
I'm not sure what I did.

I ain't upset and I ain't complainin'.
There's a lot of names I ain't namin'.
Bein' behind bars is kind of drainin'.
Wish they'd just send me home.

If I knew what I didn't do
I sure wouldn't tell you.
I wouldn't be here
if I'd just stuck to beer.

I was drinkin' beer when the whiskey got to me.
Sorrow rained down and the Blues walked through me.
I ain't sayin' much but it ain't on me.
So my story goes.

That's what I say and I'm stickin' to it.
I might be here but I didn't do it.
I was gonna run but I figured screw it.
That's all you need to know.

I been in here too long.
I ain't done no wrong.
I wouldn't be here.
If I'd just stuck to beer.

I was drinkin' beer when the whiskey hit me;
then his memory, then the misery.
I'm pretty sure the Devil bit me.
Just leave me alone.

The Judge looked straight at me this mornin';
said he'd given me fair warnin'.
The whole damn thing is kinda alarmin'.
Wish they'd just send me home.

If I knew what I didn't etc.

Took 3 baliff's and a sherrif to hold me
when my lawyer up and told me
down the river those bastards sold me;
bottom line, I'm gone.

I Haven't Slept Since I Got to Nashville

I was tired of hidin', tired of fightin'
with the volitile kin of Jesse James.
I decided to call on a Senator's daughter
though it's really not like me to complain.

She came right away, took me out of Kentucky;
said, "Come on, we're goin' down to Tennessee."
I ain't left yet and I tell you they're lucky.
This town's full of Outlaws but sure needed me.

And I haven't slept since I got to Nashville.
There's a man from Memphis sittin' by me.
I ain't got nothin' but more time to kill.
There's somethin' about nothin' that's just fine with me.

They don't call my name, they just call me 'The Outlaw'.
They're right about that, 'cause what I didn't tell;
Cookeville's County Attorney was plottin' my downfall.
I was wanted for raisin' ten kinds of Hell.

Cookeville ain't Nashville and I had to be there.
Wish I could call my Daddy, but my Daddy's gone.
There's a whole lot of things in life that just ain't fair.
There's a whole lot of things that can really go wrong.

And I still hadn't slept since I'd got to Nashville.

I somehow got through it without a bench warrant.
With help from a posse and a good attorney.
Back to West Nashville ballrooms
and a house I'm sure's haunted.
And a man from Memphis sittin' by me.

I haven't slept etc.

I forgot to mention the Diplomat's daughter.
She's pretty as springtime in Tennessee.
I keep tryin' to warn her 'cause I think someone oughta.
She's in over her head but won't listen to me.

She's kinda tortured and she's kinda quiet.
She's kinda like you and kinda like me.
If she needed a drink, well I guess I'd buy it.
But what she really needs is to leave Tennessee.

And I still haven't slept etc.

I'm tired of endin'
back to the beginnin'
and a man from Memphis sittin' by me.
Back to West Nashville ballrooms
and a house I'm sure's haunted.
This town's full of outlaws
but it sure needed me.

God's Gonna Cut You Down
Traditional 

You can run on for a long time, 
run on for a long time.
You can run on for a long time
but sooner or later God'll cut you down.

Go and tell that long tounged liar,
tell that midnight rider,
tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down.
Sooner or later God'll cut you down.

My goodness gracious, let me tell you the news.
My head's been wet with the midnight dew.
I been down on bended knee
talkin' to the man from Galilee.
He spoke to me in a voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of angel's feet.
He called my name and my heart stood still
when he said go and do my will.

Go and tell etc

You can throw your rock, hide your hand,
work in the dark against your fellow man.
Sure as God made black and white,
what's done in the dark will be brought to the light.

Go run on etc

John the Conqueror

High John, John the Conqueror, John the Conqueror John (5x)

Well, well he conquered Hell.
High John, John the Conqueror.
Oh yes, he conquered Death.
High John, John the Conqueror,
John the Conqueror John,
John the Conqueror John.

He fell in love with the Devil's child,
did High John, John the Conqueror.
Devil asked him to stay a while,
High John, John the Conqueror,
John the Conqueror John.
John the Conqueror John.

Devil played all the tricks he knew
on High John, John the Conqueror
but his daughter kept him from his due.
Up jumped John, John the Conqueror
on the Devil's own horses John.
On the Devil's own horses John.

High John etc.

Devil didn't catch them when they ran,
not his child, not John the Conqueror.
If the Devil don't catch you, no one can.
He conquerored Hell, John the Conqueror,
John the Conqueror John,
John the Conqueror John.

I understand he rides them still.
High John, John the Conqueror.
With the Devil's child and always will.
Up jumps John, John the Conqueror
on the Devil's own horses John.
He rides the Devil's own horses John.

Oh yes, he conquered Death etc.

High John, John the Conqueror, etc
The Wayfairing Stranger
 re-write of traditional

I am a poor wayfairing stranger,
wandering through this world of woe;
a world of trouble, a world of danger,
nowhere to run, nowhere to go.

Chorus: I am a poor wayfairing stranger,
gone far away from all I know.
I'm only going over Jordan.
I'm only going over home.

My heart's a desert, the sun a shadow,
for all the blaze of brighter fire.
I have seen angels, they're always weeping,
while men on wings try to climb higher.

Chorus

And now dark clouds, they gather 'round me.
And now my waking is a sleep.
The moon is black. The sky is dying,
while silent stars still vigil keep.

Chorus


From 'Jesse James and the Generals',
a Wild West show...

Jesse James

Do you hear me Jesse?
Do you hear me Jesse James?
Things ain't quite the same as when we were robbin' trains.

I'm down here by Lost River.
I heard you know the cave.
I heard that you still ride through Bardstown;
heard you ain't quite in your grave.

Do you hear me Jesse?
Do you hear me Jesse James?

Wish I could ride to Northfield
with you and your boys.
Wish I could catch that cat who killed you;
he left quite a void.

Do you hear me Jesse?
Do you hear me call?
I'm down here by Lost River and it ain't no fun at all.

Do you hear etc

Do you hear me Jesse?
It's all gone to Hell.
I'm drinkin' whiskey with the Spirit of Dixie.
She says it's funny what time will tell.

Do you hear me Jesse?
Do you hear me Jesse James?
I'm hangin' out with the Spirit of the South
and she whispered your name.
Jesse James...

Robert Ford

I'm Robert Ford,
yes, the brave Robert Ford.
I turned down most of the reward.

When I shot Jesse James
I made myself a name.
Yes siree! It's me, Robert Ford!
You may boo, you may hiss,
but may I tell you this:
You don't know the whole story on Ford.

I'm not a bad man.
You gotta understand.
It had been a long time since the War.

He had outlived his time!
He was no longer in his prime!
It had been a long time since the war!

Don't you think it's good he met his end
at the hand of a friend?
Yes siree! It was me! Robert Ford.

You gotta understand.
I really liked the man.
I was giving him a hand, Jesse James.

Oh sure, he had a wife,
but what kind of life
was bein' the wife of Jesse James?

I tell you this, it's said
she anticipated lead
in him night and day anyway!

Don't you think it's good he met his end
at the hand of a friend?
Yes siree! It was me! Robert Ford.

When I shot Jesse James
I made myself a name.
Yes siree! It's me, Robert Ford!

John Bell Hood

Where are your men John?
Where are your men John?
Where are your thousand men?


They are all gone.
They are all gone,
gone like my orphans ten.


Where is your regiment?
Where is your regiment?
Why are you on your own?


They fell.
They fell.
I've lived to tell;
I, and I alone.


So little good,
so little good,
came to John Bell Hood (2x)


All you have lost John,
all you have lost John,
why do your eyes still blaze?


All I've lost is why.
If you were I
you would not be amazed.


Where are your men John?
Where are your men John?
Where are your thousand men?


They are all gone.
They are all gone;
gone like my orphans ten.


So little good,
so little good,
came to John Bell Hood. (2x)


Where are your men John?

The Gray Ghost

In the deep blue valley
'neath the sunset's purple wind
you can still hear the rally
cry of Mosby's Men.

You best hope you're on their good side.
You best hope you don't offend.
There's no end to the ride
of Col. Mosby's Men.

The Gray Ghost echoes across the viney trees.
He's sneaky like the creeper.
He's free like the breeze.

Sometimes there's a shadow.
Sometimes there's a light.
He can hide in the moonglow
or he can shine as bright.

'Cause you can't rob a spirit
like you can rob a town
and you don't have to hear it
for there to be a sound.

Like the Gray Ghost echoes etc.

We are not our ashes
but we are our dreams.
So the ghost of Mosby passes
and nothing's what it seems.

Except the Gray Ghost etc.

Jesse's Lament

I don't care if I'm remembered.
Don't care if tomorrow I meet my grave.
But I sure would like to get out
of Lost River Cave.

I don't know how this started
I thought I'd head near kin.
Ain't gonna be none on the jury
if someone turns us in.

At least not in Missouri
that's where this all began.
You can't vote, you can't even preach
if you're a Southern man.

I don't care if I'm remembered.
Don't care if tomorrow I meet my grave.
But I sure would like to get out
of Lost River Cave.

Yea, we took that bank in Liberty
for everything we could.
What else are you supposed to do
when your own money's no good?

I don't care if I'm remembered.
Don't care if tomorrow I meet my grave.
But I sure would like to get out
of Lost River Cave.

See, we took the bank in Russellville
but they shot Frankie down.
I was hopin' my kin would take us in
but they're scared that we'll be found.

At night it gets real lonesome
'cause no one's feelin' good.
It's nice about the money
but it don't help like it should.

Some say I'm gettin' famous.
Some say I'm a legend born.
But down here in Lost River
I just wish that I was warm.

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