PHILADELPHIA LAWYER

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

 

PHILADELPHIA LAWYER
“Philadelphia Lawyer” is a term to describe a lawyer who knows the most detailed and
minute points of law. Its first usage dates back to 1788. Philadelphia-based Colonial
American lawyer Andrew Hamilton, a lawyer best known for his legal victory on behalf
of printer and newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger, is believed to have inspired the
“Philadelphia lawyer” term. This 1735 decision helped to establish that truth is a defense
to an accusation of libel. Philadelphia Lawyer is a Woody Guthrie song about a divorce
lawyer from Philadelphia who is shot by a jealous husband. It is a folksong version of a
lawyer joke. It is also known by the title “Reno Blues”.
Way out in Reno Nevada where romance blooms and fades
A great Philadelphia lawyer was in love with a Hollywood maid
Come love and we will wander down where the lights are bright
I’ll win you a divorce from your husband and we can get married tonight
Wild Bill was a guntotin’ cowboy ten notches were carved in his gun
All the boys around Reno left Wild Bill’s maiden alone
[ guitar ]
One night when he was returning from riding the range in the cold
He dreamed of his Hollywood sweetheart her love was as lasting as gold
As he drew near her window a shadow he saw in the shade
Twas a great Philadelphia lawyer making love to Bill’s Hollywood maid
The night was as still as the desert the moon hanging high overhead
Bill listened awhile to the lawyer he could hear every word that he said
Your hands are so pretty and lovely your form so rare and divine
Come go with me to the city and leave this wild cowboy behind
Tonight back in old Pennsylvania among those beautiful pines
There’s one less Philadelphia lawyer in old Philadelphia tonight