The SparesThe Ballad of Columbus Bill
Folk/Acoustic Rock/AmericanaHyperLink
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song created                                

Saturday, June 18, 2005 3:57:57 PM
song updated                               

Saturday, June 18, 2005 8:12:00 PM
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A Western epic ballad

©2005 Steve Hendershot and Jodee Lewis

The single most peculiar thing that I ever saw
Was on the day Columbus Bill ran from the county law
The sheriff loved Bill like a son
But when he heard what he had done
He cried and wrung his hands and then he grabbed his badge and gun
Hot sun, got one, he grabbed his badge and gun

Who knows how young Bill went astray those many years before
How he fell in with those outlaws as a young but dead-eyed sharpshooter
The gang was good but should have known
To leave this sheriff well alone
So down they went except for Bill, left standing all alone
Dry bone, half grown, standing there alone

Bill was by himself but had the sheriff dead to rights
The deputies did nothing with the sheriff in Bill’s sights
Bill suddenly put down his gun
Said, “If I shoot you, you’ve still won
Whatever justice comes to me, it’s fair for what I’ve done
Half ton, all or none, it’s fair for what I’ve done”

The sheriff granted pardon for the mercy Bill had shown
He said, “You spared my life today and also saved your own
I’ll neither take your gun away
Nor let you fire it ere again
If ever blaze the shot you hold, I will unstay my hand
More than, poor man, I will unstay my hand”

Bill was just fifteen; the sheriff took him in his home
He changed his ways and learned to farm what things could there be grown
When time had passed and Bill began
To court the beauty, Marianne
The sheriff smiled and cried and gave away his daughter’s hand
Ring stand, paper fan, he gave his daughter’s hand

That pistol hung above their bed just two miles out of town
A barrel over Billy’s head that held a single round
Fourteen years and children three
When peace gave way to reckoning
Two wild men came to plunder and to sin unspeakably
Go free, bum knee, to sin unspeakably

Word reached the sheriff in the middle of the night
From a trusted deputy who asked of the affright
Which details he’d like to know
He named two and sought them both
The family’s fine, the pistol’s fired, “I must fulfill my oath
Black coat, blue note, I must fulfill my oath”

The sheriff reached the farmhouse at first light of the morning
He called out to his daughter with a terse and bitter warning
She answered through a closed door
“I knew you’d come and bade him go”
The sheriff said, “I’ll ride until I find him, so you know
High tone, ungrown, I’ll find him, so you know”

Bill was waiting not far off on a hilltop green and fair
He called out to the sheriff, “Have your men to stop right there
You swore a foolish oath that day
And now it’s come to make you pay
If you try to close about me, I will surely get away
Coal gray, Sunday, I’ll surely get away”

“You needn’t hold yourself to foolish things so long since said
You’ve proven good by what you did that day in justice’ stead
Why torture here what blessing be
My life to you and yours to me
If still you must pursue me, then both of us will bleed
All speed, much need, both of us will bleed”

“Foolish, yes, and bitter is the vow that I have made
But who are you to tell me now it need not be repaid
What promises a man will make
He must fulfill or lose his way
And to your other point, you have no gun, and no escape
Gold plate, always late, no gun and no escape”

But from behind came Marianne bearing a surprise
She had a buckshot rifle pointed at the sheriff’s side
“Father, do here what you will
I respect your vow to Bill
But what ere you do unto my love I’ll do to you as well
Stay still, sing shrill, I’ll do to you as well”

The sheriff didn’t speak; he trembled and closed his eyes
He bent and set his weapon down and then kicked it aside
With crowded face and empty hands
He looked at Bill, then Marianne
In silence he got on his horse and rode away again
Top spin, hot tin, he rode away again

The sheriff and his wife packed up their things in two days time
Gone without farewell, and with little left behind
They found the china, and a doll
Saw the badge nailed to the wall
The floor was swept, the pantry clean, and rain began to fall
Last call, cannonball, rain began to fall
Song Comments

Greatest Clicks
We loves the tremelo almost as much as we loves The Spares


Stik's Picks To Click
Yes...again it's apparently just me that likes this cut


Bluegrass and some other stuff I like
must I add one more Spare's song?...I think I must


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