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DOPE FIEND ROBBER

(Bob Dylan? or Woody Guthrie?)

"McKenzie manuscripts," Summer 1961


Bob Dylan, 1961 (John Cohen)


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McKenzie manuscripts, Summer 1961
first transcribed by Chris C. in "Isis", No. 44, Aug-Sep 1992


These (possibly original) lyrics (about a World War II veteran whose morphine habit turns him into a robber) remind me (in parts) of Dylan's "The Ballad of Donald White" ("Now I'm not asking for sympathy, from anybody in your society...").

For another songwriter's treatment of a similar subject (from the Vietnam War era), cf. John Prine's "Sam Stone"

Manfred Helfert


Back in 1941
I got shot from gattling gun,
Defending your land,
I was doing nothing else but fighting for Uncle Sam.

They took me to the commissary room,
They had to give me something to ease the pain.
It was morphine, morphine
I was doing nothing else but fighting for Uncle Sam.

I left the Hospital in '45
Quite lucky to be alive.
I'm a going home...

Now you fixed my wounds and I am glad,
But you didn't fix the habit I had.
White gold -- morphine.

It caused me ruin, it caused me shame.
My wife don't even want my name.
I was buying high day by day
All I do is pay and pay.

Now I don't mean to harm no man,
I just hope that you all understand,
That I'm a dope fiend robber

Now you need food to get along,
But I need dust inside my bones,
Cause I'm a dope fiend robber.

I had to rob the jewellery store,
But the cops they grabbed me at the door.

They soon found out I took morphine,
The papers said I was a dope fiend.
Now there's a gang t' me.

Nobody would go my bail,
I had to break out of the jail.

I didn't mean to kill your man,
But he held the keys in his hand.

When you picked me up on the street that day,
You beat me up an' I was in a daze.

I saw the headlines on the Morning Star,
Mad dope fiend killer behind the bars.

I was found guilty at the trail [sic],
Judge said I'm condemned to die.

Now I'm not asking for sympathy,
From anybody in your society,
Cause.

There's a man that keeps on pushing me,
You'll take my life and he goes free.


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