American Old Time Song Lyrics: 12 County Jail

Theater, Music-Hall, Nostalgic, Irish & Historic Old Songs, Volume 12

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Good people, all give ear I pray,
And mark ye all to what I say;
To my misfortunes, great and small,
Come, listen and I'll tell you all.
I used to lead a glorious life,
Devoid of care, devoid of strife,
Could go to bed and fall asleep,
No ugly visions around me creep;
But, oh, the toots and cupid gods,
They nearly drove me ramping mad,
They piped into a railroad mail,
And carried me off to the county jail.

And when we got to the end of the route,
The turnkey turned my pockets out,
To see if I had got such stuff
As money, grub, tobacco or snuff;
They took me in to try my size,
The color of hair, the color of eyes,
They measured me up from root to lip,
To see if I had but one top lip;
Then straightway to the yard did go,
And ordered me a suit of clothes,
The kids came out and did me hail:
Another new cove for county jail.

Then one of them, with a roguish leer,
Says, my jolly old cove, what brought you here?
What do you think brought me out?
What brought me here but your railroad route?
Then they gathered around me like so many fools.
And one talked about the rules;
That each new comer should sing a song,
Or tell a tale-God knows how long-
Or they'd break his wind and give him a whack,
Or they'd take him down to Black Jack,
From there they'd wallop him, tooth and nail,
With an old wet towel from county jail.

As I walked out and strolled the yard,
Thinking my case was wondrous hard,
All at once I heard a din.
The deputy warden shouts: "All in!"
Then lumbering down the yard we go,
Like beasts let out of a wild beast show,
Some cracked in mind, and some in wind,
And others with a-- behind.
Then one by one we march around the tub,
To get our county allowance of grub,
Which blew our ribs out like a sail.
With a skilly And whack from county jail.

At five o'clock one of them said,
It is nearly time to go to bed;
The truth from him I found did creep,
For all turned in and went to sleep.
The turnkey bawled as stiff as starch:
"Right about face and then quick march!"
We did, and made such a rush,
Like monkeys marching around a bush.
Such clanking of clogs, such shaking of knees,
Such croaking of bellys and clanking of keys,
Such----beds as hard as a nail,
They'd starve a poor devil in county jail.

At six next morning tip we got.
Each man was called to clean his----,
Then through the yard we did lurch,
All fell in line to go to church;
And there such dresses as met my view,
One arm was red, the other was blue,
One leg was yellow, the other was gray,
And then the parson began to pray.
He said that Elijah went up in a cloud,
And Lazarus walked about in his shroud.
And that Jonah he lived inside a whale-
A d----d sight better than county jail.

Service being over we all got back,
And fell in line for skilly and whack;
We crushed like pigs all in a lump,
At nine each took his hand at----;
At ten we raised a glorious mill,
And smothered each other with right good will;
At eleven we raised it and quit the house,
And fell in line for pans of skouse;
Then if there's a man, no matter how droll,
We pop him into Pompie's hole,
Where whack and water-cocks his trail.
There's glorious times in county jail.
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