Dobie Bill (Dobe Bill, The Killer)
DESCRIPTION: "Dobie Bill, he came a-riding from the canyon, in the glow." Arriving in Santa Fe, he enters a bar and finds "Blake, the killer." In the fight that follows, Bill kills Blake, reports he has "made the scoundrel pay," and goes his way
EARLIEST DATE: 1934 (Lomax)
KEYWORDS: cowboy fight death revenge
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 403-404, "The Killer" (1 text)
Art Thieme, "Dobie Bill" (on Thieme03)
NOTES [196 words]: Cisco Houston had a tune for this (sung also by Art Thieme). And therein, apparently, hangs a tale. Thanks to Abby Sale for finding this; most of what follows is from him or from Guy Logsdon via Abby.
The poem was originally published in Wild West Weekly, although Abby was unable to determine the exact date. (Contrary to Lomax-ABFS, this was published by Frank Tousey, not Street and Smith; the confusion in Lomax-ABFS may be because both Street & Smith and Frank Tousey were Dime Novel publishers and targeted much the same audience of adventure-craving boys.) The tune apparently was from Katie Lee, who set the Lomax words (as found in the 1938 edition of Cowboy Songs) to music. Cisco Houston learned the tune from her when they were dating. But they then broke up, and Houston modified it somewhat to prevent her from claiming copyright. The result is, I suppose, folk processed, although I'm not sure it's truly folk. (As Logsdon noted, it looks more like the work of a romance writer than a genuine cowboy; the vocabulary is wrong.)
For more on the origin story, see Lee's Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle.
As "The Killer," this is item dB43 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW
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