Monday, August 17, 2015

Stack A Lee

Stagger kills Billy
Over a Stetson hat theft.
Stagger goes to jail.

This is an old tale, covered many times. A pimp in St. Louis,. "Stag" Lee Shelton, shot an underworld buddy, Billy Lyons, over a bar fight that involved Lee's Stetson hat. That's the basic story. Everything else from the song's first known reference in 1897 to the present has been an embellishment or a variation. It's a strange song to become so lasting and popular, a firefight over a hat, but that's popular culture for you. Bob Dylan's version appears on the 1993 album "World Gone Wrong."

Hawlin Alley on a dark and drizzly night,
Billy Lyons and Stack-A-Lee had one terrible fight.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stack-A-Lee walked to the bar-room, and he called for a glass of beer,
Turned around to Billy Lyons, said, "What are you doin' here?"
"Waitin' for a train, please bring my woman home.

"Stack-A-Lee, oh Stack-A-Lee. please don't take my life.
Got three little children and a-weepin', lovin' wife.
You're a bad man, bad man, Stack-A-Lee."

"God bless your children and I'll take care of your wife.
You stole my John B., now I'm bound to take your life."
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stack-A-Lee turned to Billy Lyons and he shot him right through the head,
Only taking one shot to kill Billy Lyons dead.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Sent for the doctor, well the doctor he did come,
Just pointed out Stack-A-Lee, said, "Now what have you done?"
You're a bad man, bad man, Stack-A-Lee."

Six big horses and a rubber-tired hack,
Taking him to the cemetery, buy they failed to bring him back.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Hawlin Alley, thought I heard the bulldogs bark.
It must have been old Stack-A-Lee stumbling in the dark.
He's a bad man, gonna land him right back in jail.

High police walked on to Stack-A-Lee, he was lying fast asleep.
High police walked on to Stack-A-Lee, and he jumped forty feet.
He's a bad man, gonna land him right back in jail.

Well they got old Stack-A-Lee and they laid him right back in jail.
Couldn't get a man around to go Stack-A Lee's bail
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stack-A-Lee turned to the jailer, he said, "Jailer, I can't sleep.
'Round my bedside Billy Lyons began to creep."
All about that John B. Stetson hat.



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