Saturday, January 3, 2009


I occasionally post songs and song lyrics here since I'm a music fan. Usually it's been the Greatfull Dead or something similar.

Here is something similar. It's a song I've never heard on the radio here, but did when I lived in California since it is about a California place, up in the Coast Ranges, I think.

I don't know if the incident here is real or is just a fiction created for the lyric. But it makes a great tale, somewhat reminiscent of Dylans' "Lilly, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" since it involves a card game. But it stands as an artifact of the "back to the land" movement and renewed interest in folk music that was somewhat prevelant in the 1970s on the 'coast, when the tune was written. And its just a good tune and tale in it's own right.

I heard it peformed by one of Californias' most beloved folk singers, Kate Wolf, though it was not written by her.

The Ballad of Weaverville

Well, I'll tell you 'bout a gambler, folks,
Jim Weaver was his name;
And I don't know where he came from,
But gamblin' was his trade.
Ride in here close beside me,
I'll tell you about a game,
The damnedest game in all my years
ever did see played.

Some said they'd seen him play before
Down on the Barb'ry Coast.
He said that might be true enough
'Cause he'd gambled all around;
And he lost his stake to a jack high straight
Out at Sutter's Fort,
But he'd saved a little poke in case
Of a game within our town.

And a lady loves a gambler,
Running loose, running free;
I felt a tremble deep inside
When I turned around to see,
He was lookin' hard at me.

Now the game was set in daddy's tent,
An honest man, you know,
And all the boys in town were set
To take Jim Weaver's gold
'Cause diggin' gold is hard work,
And pannin' is too slow;
And I saw Jim Weaver smilin'
At some little private joke.

Well, by midnight he had all the gold
That the boys in town had saved.
They never caught him cheatin'
Though they watched him all the while;
And he never lost a single hand
At any game he played;
He never lost a dollar, boys,
And he never lost his smile.

And a lady loves a gambler,
Smilin' free, smilin' wide;
I knew I wouldn't rest
'Til I was smilin' by his side,
Smilin' as we'd ride.

Soon all the boys were busted flat,
But they wanted still to play.
So they asked Jim Weaver what was left
To gamble in the game.
He said he'd cut high cards one time,
And if he lost he'd pay;
But if he won they had to swear
To give the town his name.

And he told my daddy he would bet
Ten dollars on the side,
And I could be my daddy's stake
If I would so agree.
And I rode out of Weaverville
Next mornin' as his bride;
And I left the town that bears the name
Of the gamblin' man and me.

And a lady loves a gambler,
If he cheats all the same;
And no one saw me slip to him
Tha ace that won the game!
And gave the town our name!

1 comment:

Alan Jay Weiner said...

The Ballad of Weaverville was written by Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer. They were folk musicians back in the 60's and 70's; both with wonderful distinctive voices. I saw them several times at Passim in Cambridge, MA. If you like this, there are a number of other songs worth searching for - Mary singing Ghost Riders in the Sky, Jim singing Amanda, Saginaw Michigan, and The Hubbardville Store all come to mind. (For some reason, The Ballad of Weaverville has been running through my mind the past few days. Perhaps because my niece is getting married tomorrow...)