Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics:
Shooting of Dan McGrew

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The Shooting of Dan McGrew

The Shooting of Dan McGrew
(Robert W. Service)

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that tickles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, the lady that's
     known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din   and glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and     loaded for bear
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the   strength of a l
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks     for the ho

There was none could place the stranger's face, though we   searched ourselves f
or a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan      McGrew.
There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard      like a spe
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in      hell;

With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is     done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell   one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he'd do,
And I turned my head--and there watching him was the lady that's      known as L

His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind  of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering     gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the     stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there   like a fool.

In a buckskin shirt that was dazed with dirt he sat, and I saw   him sway,
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands--my God! but that      man could
Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful    clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could

With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the      cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck      called gol
While high overhead, green, yellow, and red, the North Lights    swept in bars?-
Then you've a hunch what the music meant . . . hunger and night  and the stars.

And hunger not of the belly kind, that's banished with bacon and      beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it  means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof     above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman's love--

A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true--
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge,--the lady that's  known as Lou.)
Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could     hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it      once held

That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a      devil's li
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away      and die.
'Twas the crowning cry of a heart's despair, and it thrilled you      through an
d through-
"I guess I'll make it a spread misere," said Dangerous Dan  McGrew.

The music almost dies away . . . then it burst like a pent-up    flood;
And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay," and my eyes were blind with     blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a   frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill . . . then the music stopped      with a cra

And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most      peculiar way;
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw  him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his   voice was calm,
And "Boys," says he, "you don't know me, and none of you care a  damn;

But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I'll bet my  poke they're tr
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan     McGrew."
Then I ducked my head and the lights went out, and two guns      blazed in the d
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay    stiff and stark

Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan  McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the  lady that's kno
wn as Lou.
These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to   know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with "hooch," and I'm not  denying it's so

I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two--
The woman that kissed him and--pinched his poke--was the lady    known as Lou.

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