American Ballads and Folk Songs: page - 0193

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American Ballads and Folk Songs
Laz'us' mother, she laid down her sewin',
Laz'us' mother, she laid down her sewin',
'Bout de trouble, Lawd, Lawd, she had wid Laz'us.
Laz'us' mother she come a-screamin' an' a-cryin', Laz'us' mother, she come a-screamin' an' a-cryin', "Dat's my only son, Lawd, Lawd, dat's my only son."
"His real name was Stack Lee and he was the son of the Lee family of Memphis who owned a large line of steamers that ran up and down the Mississippi.". . . "He was a nigger what fired the engines of one of the Lee steamers.". . . "They was a steamer runnin' up an' down de Mississippi, name de Stacker Lee, an' he was one o' de roustabouts on dat steamer. So dey called him Stackerlee." Whoever he was, he was a bad man and he killed Billy Lyons, probably in Memphis some thirty or forty years ago. The A version presents the ballad as it was sung when the tale was new5 the B version, the "Stagolee" that is sung in the honky-tonks and barrel-houses throughout Texas and Louisiana today. Ivy Joe White, barrel-house pianist extraordinary of Wiergate, Texas 5 Alexander Wells, "Little Alex" of the Louisiana State Prison at Angola j and Sullivan Rock, rounder and roustabout on the docks of New Orleans, furnished the words for the B version. Windy Billy of the Louisiana State Prison at Angola sang the air.
Version A—sent, February 9, 1910, by Miss Ella Scott Fisher, San Angelo, Texas: "This is all the verses I remember. The origin of this ballad, I have been told, was the shooting of Billy Lyons in a barroom on the Memphis levee, by Stack Lee. The song is sung by the Negroes on the levee while they are loading and unloading the river freighters, the words being composed by the singers.* The characters were prom-

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III