Monday, January 19, 2015

Blackjack Davey

Married woman flees
With lover Davey. Husband
Can't make her come back.

This is an old Scottish borderlands ballad of an aristocrat's wife who flees her life of leisure to live in the wilds with Blackjack Davey, her considerably sexier gypsy lover. This is one of the more popular ballads to survive the past 200 years or so, and has been covered by many singers. This song appears on "Good As I Been to You," the 1992 album of solo acoustic cover songs that Dylan recorded in his garage. Rather than shortening the lyrics to a summary, I'll include them here since I think that Dylan's lyrics are original enough to make it his own, yet are plainly sit atop the work of centuries of developers. "Blackjack Davey" is one of my favorite Dylan songs, and he conveys in here the wild country of the moors, the old-time feel of the setting and the combination of romance, lust, bewilderment and fright that must have overtaken all three characters at least at some point in the acting out of this drama. (In many of the original versions, Johnny Faa the gypsy is caught by the Earl of Cassilis, who hangs him and other gypsies from the Dool Tree, while Lady Jane Hamilton is confined essentially to purdah forever)

Black Jack Davey come a-riden' on back,
A-whistlin' loud and merry.
Made the woods around him ring,
And he charmed the heart of a lady,
Charmed the heart of a lady.

"How old are you, my pretty little miss,
How old are you, my honey"
She answered to him with a lovin' smile
"I'll be sixteen come Sunday,
Be sixteen come Sunday."

"Come and go with me, my pretty little miss,
Come and go with me, my honey,
Take you where the grass grows green,
You never will want for money
You never will want for money

"Pull off, pull off them high-heeled shoes
All made of Spanish leather.
Get behind me on my horse
And we'll ride off together,
We'll both go off together."

Well, she pulled off them high-heeled shoes
Made of Spanish leather.
Got behind him on his horse
And they rode off together.
They rode off together.

At night the boss came home
Inquiring about this lady.
The servant spoke before she thought,
"She's been with Black Jack Dave,
Rode off with Black Jack Davey."

"Well, saddle for me my coal black stud,
He's speedier than the gray.
I rode all day and I'll ride all night,
And I'll overtake my lady.
I'll bring back my lady."

Well, he rode all night till the broad daylight,
Till he came to a river ragin',
And there he spied his darlin' bride
In the arms of Black Jack Davey.
Wrapped up with Black Jack Davey.

"Pull off, pull off them long blue gloves
All made of the finest leather.
Give to me your lily-white hand
And we'll both go home together.
We'll both go home together."

Well, she pulled off them long blue gloves
All made of the finest leather.
Gave to him her lily-white hand
And said good-bye forever.
Bid farewell forever.

"Would you forsake your house and home,
Would you forsake your baby?
Would you forsake your husband, too,
To go with Black Jack Davey.
Rode off with Black Jack Davey?"

"Well, I'll forsake my house and home,
And I'll forsake my baby.
I'll forsake my husband, too,
For the love of Black Jack Davey.
Ride off with Black Jack Davey."

"Last night I slept in a feather bed
Between my husband and baby.
Tonight I lay on the river banks
In the arms of Black Jack Davey,

Love my Black Jack Davey."




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