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The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll ~ An Appreciation

Posted on in Music

Bob DylanAs of late I've been haunted by the amazing song 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll' by Bob Dylan and, after reading about it in depth today, thought I'd write an appreciation.

With a dry, sparse, heart-felt 1964 folk energy, Bob Dylan sings about a wealthy white jerk who, while in a drunken stupor, physically and verbally attacked a 51 year old black woman who subsequently died later that night. The song/recording is haunting and relentless, forcing the story into the listeners consciousness.

After hearing it yesterday for the first time in a long time, the song won't leave me. It's chorus rings in my mind ~ the lyrics put together in such a poetic and inspired manner, Dylan's magic resounds.

hattie carroll headstoneWikipedia says, ""The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" is a topical song written by the American musician Bob Dylan. Recorded on October 23, 1963, the song was released on Dylan's 1964 album The Times They Are a-Changin' and gives a generally factual account of the killing of 51-year-old barmaid Hattie Carroll by William Devereux "Billy" Zantzinger (whom the song calls "William Zanzinger"), a wealthy young tobacco farmer from Charles County, Maryland, and his subsequent sentence to six months in a county jail."

zantzingerTake a few minutes and have a listen. Think about his melody, think about how the lyrics are written, how he repeats certain phrases, how his voice and guitar create such a unique sound. Read the lyrics below and go on the journey as he unravels the injustice and makes it plain how complex the tragedy truly is.







William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’
And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him
As they rode him in custody down to the station
And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears

William Zanzinger, who at twenty-four years
Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres
With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him
And high office relations in the politics of Maryland
Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders
And swear words and sneering, and his tongue it was snarling
In a matter of minutes on bail was out walking
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears

Hattie Carroll was a maid of the kitchen
She was fifty-one years old and gave birth to ten children
Who carried the dishes and took out the garbage
And never sat once at the head of the table
And didn’t even talk to the people at the table
Who just cleaned up all the food from the table
And emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level
Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane
That sailed through the air and came down through the room
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle
And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught ’em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now’s the time for your tears

Copyright © 1964, 1966 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music


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Gavin "Gig" Wilson"

Posted on in Life

gavin wilson

I lost my best friend a few days ago.


Nothing written can express the loss I feel.

He was in my life from age 4 and was a very significant part of my life until the end.

I pray for his family and I will move forward in a much lesser world.


Gavin "Gig" Wilson was one of the best drummers I've ever known. He had a natural talent and a snappy wrist that I've never seen in another drummer. Gig is playing drums on a number of recordings on this website. Gig was my music soulmate.

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