I Lay Around the Old Jail House (John C. Britton)
DESCRIPTION: Perhaps a composite song: The singer complains of life in jail and of working in the coal mines. There follows a brief item about a raid or a race from "Manthus" to Cairo in which John C. Britton suffers a grave loss of men
EARLIEST DATE: 1952 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: prison mining work hardtimes racing war death
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
BrownIII 364, "I Lay Around the Old Jail House (John C. Britton)" (1 text)
NOTES [99 words]: It's not often that one encounters a song this confusing. The first four stanzas seem to be your standard prison/poverty song. Stanza 5 is a floater. Stanzas 6 and 7 are suspected of being from at least one and perhaps two other songs.
The editors of Brown suggest that the last stanzas might be a description of a Civil War raid. Possible, but if so, it's too small to have left a dent in the standard histories. But I rather doubt it. It looks to me like a race between two boats, the John C. Britton and the (Robert E.?) Lee, from Memphis to Cairo. The rest must be referred to the reader. - RBW
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.