“The lonesome death of Hattie Carroll”

In writing about the accident in which South Dakota Rep. Bill Janklow killed Randolph Scott, I have referred to the “Lonesome Death of Randolph Scott.” For those of you under age 50, or those of you whose youth was less addled than mine, it might be worth explaining the allusion.
Bob Dylan made his reputation singing protest songs in a traditional folk style. His “Blowin’ in the Wind,” popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary, is a good example of his work in this style. He quickly tired of the form, however, and moved on to music both less constrained and more appropriate to his ambitions.
A few of the songs from his early period hold up remarkably well, usually those without the overt political overtones. But one of the protest songs that sticks in my mind is “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” an enraged account of the murder of a maid by a careless young Baltimore socialite. The first verse and chorus are as follows:
“William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’.
And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him
As they rode him in custody down to the station
And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder.
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain’t the time for your tears.”
The link will take you to an authorized site with the complete lyrics and a 45 second clip of the song.


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