Please Have Mercy on a Longtime Man

DESCRIPTION: "Well I went to the Captain, with my hat in my hand, Said, 'A-Lordy, have mercy, on a longtime man.... He spit on the ground." The singer recalls the poor food, says that his parents lied about earning him a pardon, and complains of prison life
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1964 (vollected from Louis Houston and Matt Williams by Jackson)
KEYWORDS: prison nonballad floatingverses
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Jackson-DeadMan, pp. 88-91, "Please Have Mercy on a Longtime Man" (3 texts, 1 tune)
cf. "Godalmighty Drag" (lyrics)
NOTES [79 words]: Jackson notes that his informants regard his three texts as three different songs. In terms of content, they are right -- each version is distinct, and while any two versions have words in common, there is hardly anything common to the three. But they have the same tune, and the rest seems to be more the result of the extreme fluidity of prison songs than anything else. Given that all three versions seem to be largely unique, it didn't seem worthwhile to split them. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.4
File: JDM088

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.