From the recording Between the Wars


Pretty Mary

In a pickup with my brother, driving down a country road
He said, A buffalo hunter farmed this land once long ago
There’s mosaic in the wheat this year, the harvest is looking poor
Like a curse been hanging on this land since that hunter hung his faithless whore

They say he was a mean man and mighty handy with a gun
He’d sooner shoot a man down as watch a rabbit run
They never even dared come after him when he made his pretty wife a ghost
For running off with the hired man ‘n five thousand in gold

(chorus): Her name was Mary, pretty Mary, see that dust devil in the wind
Her name was Mary, pretty Mary, still dancing her last dance for him

He caught them by the river, there he let the man go free
Then he hung a lariat rope from the limb of a cottonwood tree
He said, You’ll dance this dance for me, you’ll dance never more for him…
As her dancing feet left the ground, he watched her struggle end

Then he left her body hanging, but her spirit trailed him home
As he poured a glass of whiskey, he swore he saw her shadowed form
He locked each door behind him, still she followed room to room
Soon the mansion he’s built for her was closed up like a tomb

No, he never went to prison, he hired a lawyer to get him off
But he signed his land all over to cover the legal cost
He died insane in a poorhouse, now he’s buried in a pauper’s grave
His hanging whore has cursed this land to our very day

Her name was Mary, pretty Mary…