Monday, June 8, 2015

Hiram Hubbard

Despite alibi,
Firing squad shoots Hiram H.
Dead without a will.

I don't know much about "Hiram Hubbard," but was able to find one or two references online. It's a mountain murder ballad, most likely from eastern Kentucky, and coming from the days of the Civil War. Jean Ritchie, who performed the song before Bob Dylan, indicates that he was likely arrested and shot by rebel soldiers, though for what crime we don't know. Aiding the enemy, perhaps. Dylan's version doesn't clarify, though Ritchie's includes this verse:

"While travelling through this country
In sorrow and distress,
While travelling through this country
In sorrow and distress,
The rebels overhauled him,
In chains they bound him fast."

In her version, they shoot him with 11 bullets, though Dylan's version uses "three," presumably the better to rhyme with "tree." Dylan performed his version at the Finjan Club in Montreal in 1962.

See below:

Hiram Hubbard wasn't guilty
I've heard a great many say
Hiram Hubbard wasn't guilty
I've heard a great many say
He was not in this county
He was forty miles away.

But they took him 'cross the mountain
And they whomped him on the hill
Yes, they took him on the mountain
And they whomped him on the hill
It was there that he pleaded
Oh, please, let me make my will.

But Hiram Hubbard wasn't guilty
I've heard a great many say
Hiram Hubbard wasn't guilty
I've heard a great many say
He was not in this county
He was forty miles away.

But they took him down to Danville
And they throwed him in jail
Yes, they took him down to Danville
And they throwed him in jail
And it was then nobody sought him
Nobody could go his bail.

But Hiram Hubbard wasn't guilty
I've heard a great many say
Hiram Hubbard wasn't guilty
I've heard a great many say
He was not in this county
He was forty miles away.

But they took him out at midnight
And they strapped him to a tree
Yes, they took him out at midnight
And they strapped him to a tree
It was there that they killed him
With rifle bullets three.

But Hiram Hubbard was not guilty
Lord, I heard a great many say
Hiram Hubbard wasn't guilty
I heard a great many say
He was not in this county
He was forty miles away.




1 comment:

  1. Wow Dylan always blows me away with his verse. What a genius.What a fascinating mind. I am not much into wanting to meet celebrities but this is a man who I would love to talk to. Listening to him all my life as I am at 61 one right now, I have just been inspired to write poetry to go with my art. Even though I bow at the head of the master ,I quite like how mine is turning out as I have only started writing poetry about 2 weeks ago. If you would like to take a look it is at http://mitropoetryhaiku.blogspot.com/

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