♫ Tom Dooley ♫

Tonight, I’ve been working hard for several hours on my post for mine and Jeff’s project that will publish at 3:00 this afternoon.  At a few points, I found myself actually digging holes in my scalp out of frustration, trying to get my point across without being offensive to anyone.  Throughout, I had a song in my head … nope, not Tom Dooley … Ride Like the Wind by Bob Seger!  But, I played it in February 2019, and I’ve done too many re-duxes lately … time for something new and original.  So, when I finished the first draft and emailed it to Jeff for his review, I decided … how ’bout something from waaaaaay back, something fun?  And thus …

Tom Dooley was released in 1958, the year I turned 7.  Leg braces and Coke-bottle-thick glasses, braids in my hair … I cut quite an image, don’t you know!  What were you doing in 1958?  I think that was the year my dad taught me to ride a bike … we lived at the top of a steep street at the time … need I say more?

Tom-Dula

Tom Dula

This song is written loosely based on the life of one Thomas C. Dula (pronounced Dooley), a former Confederate soldier who was convicted of murdering Laura Foster.  National publicity from newspapers such as the New York Times turned Dula’s story into a folk legend. Although Laura was murdered in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Dula was tried, convicted, and hanged in Statesville.

Suddenly, I find myself wondering just why I thought this song would be ‘fun’.  However, since it is 1:30 a.m. and I really want to play this bloomin’ song, and I still have comments to answer and my a.m. post to clean up, I’m not changing boats in mid-stream, else I’ll never get to bed.  Could just be that the rabbit hole has made me a bit macabre … forgive me, friends, but try to remember … what were you doing when this song hit #1 in the U.S. and #5 in the UK in 1958?

Tom Dooley
The Kingston Trio

Throughout history there have been many songs
Written about the eternal triangle
This next one tells the story of a Mr. Grayson,
A beautiful woman, and a condemned man named Tom Dooley
When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley must hang

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

I met her on the mountain, there I took her life
Met her on the mountain, stabbed her with my knife

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry (ah-uh-eye)
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

This time tomorrow reckon where I’ll be
Hadn’t-a been for Grayson, I’d-a been in Tennessee (well now, boy)

Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Hang down your head and cry (ah poor boy, ah well-ah)
Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Poor boy, you’re bound to die (ah well now boy)

Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Hang down your head and cry (ah poor boy, ah well-ah)
Hang down (your head) your head (Dooley) and cry
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

This time tomorrow reckon where I’ll be
Down in some lonesome valley hangin’ from a white oak tree

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry (ah-uh-eye)
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die (ah well now boy)

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry (poor boy ah well uh)
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die
Poor boy, you’re bound to die
Poor boy, you’re bound to die
Poor boy, you’re bound to die

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Alan Lomax / Frank Warner / John A. Lomax
Tom Dooley lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

35 thoughts on “♫ Tom Dooley ♫

  1. This song by the Kingston Trio was the theme song of the July 1959 movie “The Legend of Tom Dooley”. A young Michael Landon starred as Tom Dooley. Jo Morrow, unknown to me other than this movie, played the part of his fiancee. I was young but remember going to see this movie which my Mother and elder sister loved due to Landon. As a foursome with my Gram, we saw several times. If my memory is correct, in the movie Dooley takes part in an attack on a stagecoach not knowing that the Civil War had ended. Following that Dooley goes home to marry his fiancee, Laura Foster, and they elope. As a result of the stagecoach murders he is arrested and jailed, but escapes with help from a friend. After the escape they find a lawman with Laura attacking her. Dooley and the lawman get into a fight with a knife, and here my memory dims on the specifics, somehow Laura gets stabbed. Laura dies in Tom’s arms and he ends up getting caught by another lawman and taken off to be hanged. The song also reminds me of another Tom Dooley, Doctor Thomas A. Dooley, an American physician who was working in South East Asia early in the Vietnam War. This Tom Dooley was revered by my Mother after meeting him stateside during fundraisers for his work. Dooley authored three books prior to succumbing to cancer in January 1961, all of which she owned…the first book bearing a personal inscription along with his autograph. It is of note that President John F. Kennedy cited Dr. Tom Dooley’s example when the Peace Corps was created through his executive order in March of 1961. Thank-you for resurrecting two memories with one song!

    Liked by 2 people

    • P.S. I wore full length leg braces as a youngster for years, that were attached to the ugliest brown lace-up shoes ever made! There are many stories that I could tell about those years!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael Landon of “Bonanza” fame was in it? I must go in search of! From the account I read, it sounds like the movie is another example of Hollywood romanticizing events, but still, the movie version is probably nicer than the reality. And thanks for the info on the Dr. Thomas A. Dooley … I had never heard of him!

      Like

  2. In 1958 I was 7 like you. I had this pernicious song beetle trying to drill through my skull with Tom Dooley and I found myself singing it all the time. I’m sure it had to be the Kingston Trio but I know I’ve heard it by others. Good Song.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, 7 like me, but … um … 5 months older than me at that time! 😉 Yeah, others have done it, but the Kingston Trio were, I think, the only ones who made a hit of it, or at least the only ones I recall.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This song was very popular on the radio stations back in the day in what was then British Guiana. We kids didn’t know the background to the lyrics or what they meant, but we knew the words by heart and sang along with gusto 🙂 It was also a favorite song among my father’s drinking buddies.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I always like the Kingston Trio. Let’s see in 1958 I was a junior in High School. I had just finished rebuilding my 1949 Ford Club Coupe. I tricked it out with a 1953 Ford truck clutch, twin two-barrel carbs, dual exhaust, and complete body rework. Also, I was working on the school newspaper and had retired from football.

    Liked by 2 people

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