Tom Dooley (oryginal)
Hang your head, Tom Dooley,
Hang your head and cry;
You killed poor Laurie Foster,
And you know you're bound to die.
You left her by the roadside
Where you begged to be excused;
You left her by the roadside,
Then you hid her clothes and shoes.
You took her on the hillside
For to make her your wife;
You took her on the hillside,
And ther you took her life.
You dug the grave four feet long
And you dug it three feet deep;
You rolled the cold clay over her
And tromped it with your feet.
"Trouble, oh it's trouble
A-rollin' through my breast;
As long as I'm a-livin', boys,
They ain't a-gonna let me rest.
I know they're gonna hang me,
Tomorrow I'll be dead,
Though I never even harmed a hair
On poor little Laurie's head."
"In this world and one more
Then reckon where I'll be;
If is wasn't for Sheriff Grayson,
I'd be in Tennesee.
You can take down my old violin
And play it all you please.
For at this time tomorrow, boys,
It'll be of no use to me."
"At this time tomorrow
Where do you reckon I'll be?
Away down yonder in the holler
Hangin' on a white oak tree.
Tom Dooley (G-dur)
Kingston Trio - Tom Dooley (1958) (E-dur)
Frank Warner & Pete Seeger - Tom Dooley (F-dur)
Tom "Dooley" Dula (C-dur)
TOM DOOLEY (E-dur)
"Tom Dooley" is an old North Carolina folk song based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina. It is best known today because of a hit version recorded in 1958 by The Kingston Trio. This version was a multi-format hit, reaching #1 in Billboard, the Billboard R&B listing, and appearing in the Cashbox country music top 20. It fits within the wider genre of Appalachian 'sweetheart murder ballad' songs such as 'Down in the Willow Garden' and 'Rose Connelly', but 'Tom Dooley' is based on a real event.
The song was selected as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc.
In the documentary Appalachian Journey (1991), folklorist Alan Lomax describes Frank Proffitt as the "original source" for the song. Since the song predates Frank Proffitt's early version, it appears that Lomax means that Proffitt's version is the one that has become most well known to us because the Kingston Trio derived their interpretation from it. Certainly, there is at least one earlier known recording, by Grayson andWhitter made in 1929, approximately 10 years before Proffitt cut his own recording.
Impoverished Confederate veteran Tom Dula (Dooley), Laura Foster's lover and probable fiancé, was convicted of her murder and hanged May 1, 1868. Foster was stabbed to death with a large knife; the brutality of the attack partly accounted for the widespread publicity the murder and subsequent trial received.
Dula had a lover, prior to his leaving for the war, named Anne Melton. It was her comments that led to the discovery of Foster's body, but Melton was acquitted in a separate trial based on Dula's word. Dula's enigmatic statement on the gallows that he had not harmed Foster but still deserved his punishment led to press speculation that Melton was the actual killer and that Dula simply covered for her. Melton, who had once expressed jealousy of Dula's purported plans to marry Foster, died insane a few years after the homicide. Thanks to the efforts of newspapers such as The New York Times, and to the fact that former North Carolina governor Zebulon Vance represented Dula pro bono, Dula's murder trial and hanging were given widespread national publicity. A local poet, Thomas C. Land, wrote a popular song about Dula's tragedy after the hanging.
A man named "Grayson," mentioned in the song as pivotal in Dula's downfall, has sometimes been characterized as a romantic rival of Dula's or a vengeful sheriff who captured him and presided over his hanging. Some variant lyrics of the song portray Grayson in that light, and the spoken introduction to the Kingston Trio version did the same. Col. James Grayson was actually a Tennessee politician who had hired Dula on his farm when the young man fled North Carolina under suspicion and was using a false name. Grayson did help North Carolinians capture Dula and was involved in returning him to North Carolina, but otherwise played no role in the case.
Dula was tried in Statesville, because it was believed he could not get a fair trial in Wilkes County. He was given a new trial on appeal but he was again convicted, and hanged on May 1, 1868. His alleged accomplice, Jack Keaton, was set free. On the gallows, Dula reportedly stated, "Gentlemen, do you see this hand? I didn't harm a hair on the girl's head."
Dula's last name was pronounced "Dooley," leading to some confusion in spelling over the years. (The pronunciation of a final "a" like "y" is an old feature in Appalachian speech, as in the term "Grand Ole Opry"). The confusion was probably compounded by the fact that Dr. Tom Dooley, an American physician known for international humanitarian work, was at the height of his fame in 1958, when the Kingston Trio version became a major hit.
The doleful ballad was probably first sung shortly after the execution and is still commonly sung in North Carolina.
Grayson and Whitter, Victor, 1929. The first recorded version by a group well known at the time.
Frank Warner, Elektra, 1952. Warner, a folklorist, unaware of the 1929 recording, in 1940 took down the song from Frank Proffitt and passed it to Alan Lomax who published it in Folk Song: USA.
The Folksay Trio, which featured Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Roger Sprung, issued the first post-1950 version of the song for American Folksay-Ballads and Dances, Vol. 2 on the Stinson label in 1953. The group reformed in 1956 as The Tarriers, featuring Darling, Carey and Alan Arkin, and released another version of "Tom Dooley" for The Tarriers on the Glory label in 1957.
Paul Clayton, a singer-songwriter and folklorist, recorded "Tom Dooley" (as "Tom Dula") on Bloody Ballads: British and American Murder Ballads for Riverside Records in 1956.
The Kingston Trio, Capitol, 1958. This recording sold in excess of six million copies, topping the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and is often credited with starting the "folk boom" of the late 1950s and 1960s. It only had three verses (and the chorus four times). This recording of the song has been inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress and been honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
Lonnie Donegan, also 1958. This version charted in the United Kingdom simultaneously with the Kingston Trio's. Its uptempo skiffle style was a contrast to the U.S. version's slower arrangement.
Line Renaud recorded a French-language version, Fais Ta Prière (Tom Dooley), in 1959. The song was released on Renaud's album "Les souvenirs sont faits de ça," and is also available on the compilation "Line: 100 chansons."
Doc Watson, Vanguard Records, 1964. This version considerably extended the scope of the song.
Sweeney's Men, 1967, on their first, eponymous album. The lyrics differ from those as sung by the Kingston Trio.
Bill Morrissey & Greg Brown:Friend of Mine, Philo Records, 1993. This collaboration of two songwriters doing songs written by others included a version using the title "Tom Dula" and credited Frank Profitt as songwriter.
Rob Ickes recorded a version on his album "Hard Times" in 1997 as a bluegrass song.
Carolina Chocolate Drops recorded a version on their 2006 album Dona Got a Ramblin Mind.
Tom Dooley prompted a number of parodies, either as part of other songs (for example, Ella Fitzgerald drops an altered line from the song into a recording of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) or as entire songs, including one called Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught In Your Zipper by the Incredible Bongo Band in 1972.
The song and legend were parodied by a one-record novelty act called Waldo, Dudley and Dora on a 45 rpm Grayson Goofed, issued as Awful Records release #PU-1. Verses sung to the Tom Dooley melody alternate with mini-skits, as "John" Grayson's public reputation erodes from "a fine man" to "a stoolie" (i.e., stool pigeon) to "a gink".
The song was often parodied by the Smothers Brothers as Tom Crudely.
It has been parodied or used in many television shows, including:
Episode #705 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Crow T. Robot, motivated by one actor's resemblance to Thomas Dewey, sang a version beginning "Hang down your head, Tom Dewey."
"Tom Dooley" is the name of an episode of Ally McBeal (season 5 episode 18), in which John Cage sings a version of the song with his Mexican band.
In The Simpsons' "The Way We Weren't", (episode 20, season 15), which aired on May 9, 2004, the Sea Captain sings a verse.