Conversation with Death (Oh Death)
DESCRIPTION: Death approaches the young person who is "unprepared for eternity." (S)he tries to buy Death off. It doesn't work. Death describes how it takes everyone and snuffs out their lives. The soon-to-be-dead person bids farewell
AUTHOR: almost certainly Lloyd Chandler
EARLIEST DATE: 1928 (recording, Vernon Dalhart)
KEYWORDS: death bargaining dialog Hell
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Randolph 663, "Conversation with Death" (1 text)
Rich Amerson, "Death Have Mercy" (on NFMAla4)
Dock Boggs, "Oh Death" (on Boggs1, BoggsCD1)
Al Craver [pseudonym for Vernon Dalhart], "Conversation with Death" (Columbia 15585-D, 1930; rec. 1928)
Rev. Anderson Johnson, "Death in the Morning" (Glory 4015, rec. 1953; on Babylon)
Charlie Monroe's Boys, "Oh Death" (Bluebird B-8092, 1939)
Charley] Patton & [Bertha] Lee, "Oh Death" (Vocalion 02904, 1935; rec. 1934)
Dock Reed & Vera Hall Ward, "Death is Awful" (on NFMAla5) (on ReedWard01)
Berzilla Wallin, "Conversation with Death" (on OldLove)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(885), "Dialogue between death and a sinner" ("Death. Now sinner come by heaven's decree ...") Ryle & Co (Seven Dials), n.d.; also "Dialogue between Death & a sinner," John Harkness (Preston), n.d.; Johnson Ballads 412, "Dialogue between Death and a sinner," W. S. Fortey (Monmouth), n.d.
cf. "Death and the Lady" (theme)
cf. "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" (tune of one version)
cf. "Oh Death (III)" (lyrics)
Death Is Awful
NOTES: It is possible that this is a Holy Roller version of "Death and the Lady," but there are enough differences that I decided I had to separate them. There may be a "missing link" out there somwhere, though. - RBW
I think Boggs' version may well be the missing link you seek. A very similar version was recorded by the blues singer Charley Patton. Or it could be Vernon Dalhart's recording, but certainly the Boggs and Patton versions are fairly close to "Death and the Lady." - PJS
John Garst has this to add:
Carl Lindahl seems to have wrapped up Lloyd Chandler's authorship of "Conversation with Death." See http://tinyurl.com/tbdx-LChandler and works cited there.
Chandler's piece has become mixed with "Oh, Death" ("Death Have Mercy," etc.) which seems to be, in some versions, entirely different from "Conversation."
It seems clear to me that "Oh, Death" derives from the,,, broadside [Bodleian, Harding B 11(885)].
Both "Conversation" and "Oh, Death" differ considerably from "Death and the Lady." - JG
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