TOM DOOLEY

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

 

TOM DOOLEY
Tom Dooley” is an old North Carolina folk song based on the 1866 murder of a woman
named Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina. It is best known today because of
a hit version recorded in 1958 by The Kingston Trio. Impoverished Confederate veteran
Tom Dula (Dooley), Laura Foster’s lover and probable fiancé, was convicted of her
murder and hanged in 1868. Foster was stabbed to death with a large knife; the brutality
of the attack partly accounted for the widespread publicity the murder and subsequent
trial received. Dula was tried in Statesville, because it was believed he could not get a fair
trial in Wilkes County. He was given a new trial on appeal but he was again convicted,
and hanged on May 1, 1868. His alleged accomplice, Jack Keaton, was set free. On the
gallows, Dula reportedly stated, “Gentlemen, do you see this hand? I didn’t harm a hair
on the girl’s head.” The doleful ballad was probably first sung shortly after the execution
and is still commonly sung in North Carolina. The song was selected as one of the Songs
of the Century.
(Spoken recitation over musical accompaniment)
Throughout history, there have been many songs written about the eternal triangle.
This next one tells the story of Mister Grayson, a beautiful woman, and a condemned
man
named Tom Dooley. When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley must hang.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Poor boy, you’re bound to die.
I met her on the mountain. There I took her life.
Met her on the mountain. Stabbed her with my knife.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Poor boy, you’re bound to die.
This time tomorrow. Reckon where I’ll be.
Hadn’t-a been for Grayson, I’d-a been in Tennessee.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Poor boy, you’re bound to die.
This time tomorrow. Reckon where I’ll be.
Down in some lonesome valley hangin’ from a white oak tree.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Poor boy, you’re bound to die.