Jim Fisk

If you will listen awhile I will sing you a song
About this glorious land of the free,
And the difference I’ll show between the rich and the poor,
In a trial by jury, you see.
If you have plenty of money you can hold up your head,
And walk out from your own prison door,
But they’ll hang you up high if you’ve no friends or gold,
Let the rich go, but hang up the poor.

In trial by jury we have nowadays,
The rich men get off swift and sure,
While they’ve thousands to pay both the jury and judge,
You can bet they’ll go back on the poor.

Let me speak of a man who is now in his grave,
A better man never was born;
Jim Fisk he was called and his money he gave
To the outcast, the poor and forlorn.
We all know he loved both women and wine,
But his heart it was right, I am sure,
Though he lived like a prince in his palace so fine,
He never went back on the poor.

If a man was in trouble he would help him along,
To drive the grim wolf from the door,
He strove to do right, though he may have done wrong,
But he never went back on the poor.

Jim Fisk was a man with his heart in his hand,
No matter what people might say,
And he did all his deeds, both the good and the bad,
In the broad, open light of the day.

With his grand six-in-hand on the beach at Long Branch,
He cut a big dash, to be sure,
But Chicago’s great fire showed the world that Jim Fisk
With his wealth still remembered the poor.

When a telegram came that the homeless that night
Were starving to death slow but sure,
The Lightning Express, manned by noble Jim Fisk,
Flew to feed all her hungry and poor.

Now what do you think of the trial of Stokes,
Who murdered the friend of the poor?
When such men get free is there any one safe,
If they step outside of their own door?
Is there a law for the rich and one for the poor?
It seems so, at least so they say,
If they hang up the poor, why hadn’t the rich
Ought to swing up the very same way?

Don’t show any favor to friend or to foe,
The beggar or prince at your door,
If you always do right you will get your reward,
If you never go back on the poor.

Gordon, Robert Winslow, 1888-1961
Date Recorded: 
September, 1924
Track Duration (h:m:s): 
Original Medium: 
wax cylinder
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Call Number/Physical Location: 
AFS 19011A: G86 Misc 144

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