The Songs He Sang
John Hardy: Lyrics
As performed by Cisco Houston
John Hardy stood in that old barroom So drunk that he could not see And a man walked up and took him by the arm He said Johnny, come and go along with me poor boy Johnny, come and walk along with me John Hardy stood in his old jail cell The tears running down from his eyes He said I've been the death of many a poor boy But my six-shooters never told a lie No, my six-shooters never told a lie The first one to visit John Hardy in his cell Was a little girl dressed in blue She came down to that old jail cell She said Johnny, I've been true to you God knows Johnny, I've been true to you The next one to visit John Hardy in his cell Was a little girl dressed in red She come down to that old jail cell She said, Johnny, I had rather see you dead Well, Johnny, I had rather see you dead I've been to the East and I've been to the West I've traveled this wide world around I've been to that river and I've been baptized So take me to my burying ground So take me to my burying ground John Hardy was a desperate little man He carried two guns every day He shot down a man on the West Virginia line You ought to seen old John Hardy getting away You ought to seen John Hardy getting away
Notes from the Folk Song & Minstrelsy Set
This song memorializes a Negro badman who shot and killed another Negro in a gambling game at the Shawnee Coal Company camp in West Virginia. For a time he eluded the police, but they finally captured him one day as he was sleeping in his mountain hideout. Minus his two guns, he was handcuffed to the sheriff and taken by train to the county jail. He was eventually convicted of murder and sentenced to be hanged on Jan. 19, 1894. While awaiting execution, he was converted by a Baptist minister. John spent his final days praying, singing hymns, and exhorting young men to shun liquor, gambling and bad company.