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Kingston Trio

The Unfortunate Miss Bailey lyrics

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Kingston Trio – The Unfortunate Miss Bailey lyrics

(Lou Gottlieb)

In seventeen forty-two, it was customary in the township of Halifax, for a gentleman to partake occasionally of ratafia which was--a light-flavored liquer of amazing potency--which originated in Middlesex and which we suppose is the reason for this song.

Oh, Miss Bailey! Unfortunate, Miss Bailey!

A captain bold in Halifax, who dwelt in country quarters, seduced a maid who hung herself one Monday in her garters.
His wicked conscience smitted him. He lost his stomach daily. He took to drinking ratafia and tho't upon Miss Bailey.


One night betimes he went to bed for he had caught the fever. Said he, "I am a handsome man and I'm a gay deceiver."
His candle just a twelve o'clock began to burn quite palely. A ghost stepped up to his bedside and said, "Behold, Miss Bailey!"


"Avast, Miss Bailey," then he cried, "you can't affright me, really." "Dear Captain Smith," the ghost replied, "you used me ungenteelly.
The coroner's quest goes hard with me because I've acted freely and Parson Biggs won't bury me tho' I'm a dead Miss Bailey. "


"Dear Ma'am," says he, "since you and I must once for all accounts close, I have a one pound note in my regimental small clothes.
'Twill bribe the sexton for your grave. " The ghost then answered gaily, "Bless you, wicked Captain Smith, remember poor Miss Bailey! "


"All's well that ends well, I suppose."

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    Lou Gottlieb, who had a Ph.D. in musicology and led the Limeliters and another famous folk group, may have arranged songs for the Kingston Trio, but he did not write this song at all. It appears to have originated in England in the late 1700's, according to Burl Ives' book on folk songs, where it appears in virtually the same form as it appears on the Trio's recording. This sort of stealing from the dead occurs all the time in folk music revival recordings, and even Woody Guthrie is guilty of it. "Trad., arr." is the real author of very many songs that appear on these records, but it is much easier to steal and take credit for things one has never done when the publishing royalty checks promise a payout. Shame.
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