Saturday, May 9, 2015

Delia

Curtis kills Delia
And goes to jail. Bob loved her
But couldn't save her.

The true story of the murder of Delia Green is sad enough. The songs written about her accentuate the negative. Green, as the story goes, was shot and killed by Mose Houston on Christmas Eve 1900. She was 14, he was 15, and they reportedly had a sexual relationship. According to the tale, he killed her after she called him a "son of a bitch." At least, that's what the Wikipedia entry says. As Bob and others have put it in the various musical versions of the story, Delia went underground and Houston, also known by other names, went to jail. He got out after a few years, but died in New York in unknown circumstances. Some versions, like Johnny Cash's, tell the story from the point of view of the murderer. Bob's doesn't. He adds a number of details, likely fictional, to the story. More importantly, he adds himself as the self-pitying man who loved Delia, but knew that she had eyes for someone else -- someone who would be the death of her. Every verse ends with him telling us that "All the friends I ever had are gone." His version, which appears on the 1993 album "World Gone Wrong," emphasizes loneliness for himself, while reporting the sordid end of Delia's life with a deadpan tone. 

Delia was a gambling girl, gambled all around,
Delia was a gambling girl, she laid her money down.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Delia's dear ol' mother took a trip out West,
When she returned, little Delia gone to rest.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Delia's daddy weeped, Delia's momma moaned,
Wouldn't have been so bad if the poor girl died at home.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Curtis' looking high, Curtis' looking low,
He shot poor Delia down with a cruel forty-four.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

High up on the housetops, high as I can see,
Looking for them rounders, looking out for me.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Men in Atlanta, tryin' to pass for white,
Delia's in the graveyard, boys, six feet out of sight.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Judge says to Curtis, "What's this noise about?"
"All about them rounders, Judge, tryin' to cut me out."
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Curtis said to the judge, "What might be my fine?"
Judge says, "Poor boy, you got ninety-nine."
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Curtis' in the jail house, drinking from an old tin cup,
Delia's in the graveyard, she ain't gettin' up.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Delia, oh Delia, how can it be?
You loved all them rounders, never did love me.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Delia, oh Delia, how can it be?
You wanted all them rounders, never had time for me.
All the friends I ever had are gone.

Here's the album version:





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