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Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight, Mister?

This song is by Clarence Ashley and Tex Isley and appears on the album Play and Sing American Folk Music (1966).

May I sleep in your barn tonight, mister?
It's so cold sleeping out on the ground
And the cold north wind is a-whistling
And I have no place to lie down

You may know that I use no tobacco
Neither carry no matches or fire
I will do you no harm, kind mister
May I sleep just tonight in your barn?

You have asked me how long I've been tramping
Or living this kind of a life
I will tell you my story, kind mister
Oh, it runs through my heart like a knife

Three years ago last summer
I will never forget that sad day
When a stranger came out from the city
To the country to stay for his health

Oh, my wife said she'd like to be earning
Was something to add to-our home
And she coaxed me until I consented
For the s~ranger to stop there and board

One evening as I came from my work, sir
Whistling and Singing for joy
I's expecting a kindhearted welcome
To receive from my wife and little boy

Nothing did I find but a letter
Placed in the room upon the stand
And the moment my eye fell upon it
I picked it right up in my hand

Oh, the words that was written upon it
Oh, it run through my brain, run me wild
Oh, it read that the stranger an Nellie
Had ran off and taken my child

Oh, we know there's a God up in heaven
I've always been taught to believe
I know he will give to the scoundrel
The death that he ought to receive

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