From the recording Sometimes I Wake Up Naked
About The Song
In March, 2000, I had a gig in Swan Hill (about 500kms from Adelaide). A couple of hours into the trip, as I began to relax and enjoy the drive, the idea for this song began to form in my head. Instinctively, I knew it was going to be a long song, and I began to sketch it out like a short story. Initially, the song had 14 verses! I spent a week or so writing the story before I even tried to put a tune to it. Thankfully, the melody I came up with allowed me to combine the verses into pairs, thereby reducing the song to seven verses.
JIM LESSES (vocal & guitar); JOHN MUNRO (lead guitar, mandolin); DON HOLDERNESSE (bass guitar, congas); HUGH GORDON (violin).
The Ballad of Billy Winter
© 2000, Jim Lesses. All Rights Reserved.
The Outlaw Billy Winter, man, he never had a chance,
But the reputation that he had, was built on circumstance.
They say that Billy Winter, was a man that you could trust,
But he had one fatal weakness, and that weakness it was lust.
In a downtown city bar-room, called the Amarillo Star,
Billy saw her sitting on her own, and knew that she’d go far.
And her name was Rosa-lita, and she dealt a line in greed,
But Billy didn’t want no smoke, he had another need.
Now Billy didn’t know that day, Rosalita’s name was ‘mud’,
And she had a low-life keeper, and he liked to deal in blood.
And bloody was his anger, when he caught them both in bed,
And while his gun was smoking, Rosalita fell back dead.
And the second bullet smashed into the door by Billy’s ear,
And Billy knew at once what it was like to live in fear.
But the shot from Billy’s pistol, went through the keepers head,
Who danced a lovely pirouette, and fell upon the bed.
The hanging judge had syphilis, and he spread it near and far,
And when he wasn’t in the whore house, he was drinking in the bar.
And when he looked across at Billy, all the judge could find to say,
Two people dead on a bloody bed, and Billy, you will pay.
On the day set for the hanging, the hangman he was late,
And Billy knew that he’d been blessed by all the hands of fate.
So he made a jump for freedom, under boiling Texas sun,
Shouting, Adios amigos, I’m an outlaw on the run.
Ride Billy... Run...
The outlaw Billy Winter headed down to Mexico,
A US Marshall close behind, by just a day or so.
And the Marshall’s name was Randall, and his head was full of spite,
He was looking for some glory, but he was spoiling for a fight.
And Randall had a secret, but he kept it deep inside,
He’d caught his own wife cheatin’, and how it hurt his pride.
And ever since that faithless day, he swore he’d catch that man,
And now at last he had him, Billy Winter, close at hand.
Look out, Billy!
Randall found him late one day, by the Rio Grande banks,
The horses they were foaming, and there was sweat along their flanks.
And there was Billy Winter, trying to cross that raging stream,
And heading out into the sun, and reaching for his dream.
And Randall swore as Billy tried to cross that flowing river,
He had a point to prove, by God, and now he would deliver!
He rained a curse on Billy’s head, that left the angels blushing,
And he spurred his horse into the mighty Rio Grande rushing.
As soon as Randall left the bank, like lambs to the slaughter,
The tired horse beneath him sank, and dragged him under water.
Now Randall was no swimmer, and he knew he was in trouble,
With his foot caught in the stirrup, and his life reduced to bubbles!
A choking breath, a flailing arm, the drowning horse and Randall,
No-one to mourn his bitter life, no-one to light a candle.
One dying breath before the end, but look, the foot is freed
By the outlaw Billy Winter, helping in his hour of need!
Why Billy... Why...
The outlaw Billy Winter, headed down through Mexico,
To the town of Acapulco, where the pretty women go.
And why Randall never brought him in, that man would never say,
But Randall knew he owed a debt, that only he could pay.
And ever since that fateful day, by the Rio Grande river,
Where two men saw the Fates at play and both men felt a shiver.
They saw too, that there are things more powerful than lust,
But all these things we speak about are hidden in the dust.
Hi-Hi-Hi-Yo!; Hi-Hi-Hi-Yo!; Hi – Hi! Hi – Hi!