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A Prisoner For Life

This song is a Traditional.

This is a traditional song and therefore has no particular artist associated with it. It is believed to have originated in United States.
My old father advised me when I was but young,
"Of ramblin' an' gamblin', bad company shun.
These words you'll remember when I'm old an' gray,
These words you'll remember when I'm cold in my grave."

But I kept on a-ramblin' in that terrible band,
Till I was attackted by the laws of the land,
Was tried an' convicted for mail robbery,
Nine years was transported across the salt sea.

Then I met my old father a-leavin' the dock,
He wrang his poor hands an' he tore his gray locks,
Sayin', "Son, they have ruint you, I've advised you before,
But now we are partin' to meet here no more."
If I was on shipboard, pretty Molly by me,
Bound down in strong Ireland I'd feel myself free,
Bound down in strong Ireland an' kept like a slave,
'Twas in my own country I did not behave.

Farewell, little doogie, to an embel you fly,
You sing an' you sorrow your troubles all by;
Oh, what would I give in such freedom to share,
To roam at my ease an' to breathe the fresh air.

Oh, farewell, kind comrades, I'm willin' to own
That such a wild outcast has never been known;
'Tis the cause of my ruin an' sudden downfall,
An' caused me to labor behind the stone wall.



Ozark Folksongs, Randolph. Collected from Carrie Baber, MO, 1922


Sung by The Norman Luboff Choir,


One of many local variants, each, apparently with an "authentic" local history.

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