Louis Collins took a trip out west
When he returned, little Delia had gone to rest
The angels laid her away

Louis said to Delia
"That's the sad thing with life,
There's people always leavin' just as other folks arrive"
The angels laid her away

When the people heard Delia was dead
All of them gentlemen they dressed in red
The angels laid her away

Angels laid her away
Laid her six feet under the clay
The angels laid her away

Louis went downtown for a new suit of clothes
He's gonna dress up for Delia like a fine red rose
The angels laid him away

He brought a ten-gallon Stetson
It was ox blood red
Stacker Lee shot Louis in the back of the head
The angels laid him away

Oh Stacker Lee said to Louis,
'Oh now don't you grieve. I'm sending you to Delia, you won't ever have to leave.'
The angels laid him away

Angels laid him away
They laid him six feet under the clay
The angels laid him away

Well the judge was a mean one
His name was Hangin' Billy Lyons
He said "You've always been a bad man, Stack, you gonna hang this time.
The angels lay you away."

And the jailer said to Stacker Lee 'What's the problem with you?"
'Aw jailer, Louis Collins' ghost brought Delia's with him, too."
The angels laid them away

Angels laid him away
They laid him six feet under the clay
The angels laid him away

Well they buried little Delia
In the church yard deep
With Louis Collins at her head
Stacker Lee at her feet
The angels laid them away

And out of Delia's bed came briars
Out of Louis's bed a rose
Out of Stacker Lee's came Stacker Lee's cold lonely little ghost
Angels laid them away

And I'm looking over rooftops
And I'm hoping that it ain't true
That the same God looks out for them Looks out for me and you
Angels laid them away
Angels laid them away
Angels laid them away

Lyrics submitted by SkylinePigeon

Folk Bloodbath Lyrics as written by Joshua Ritter


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Folk Bloodbath song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis song is a mashup of numerous old songs. I didn't know about "peter and the dragon", apparently it is also a mishmash of his own stuff too. Here are the songs I've picked out of it.

    Louis Collins - Old blues song about the murder of, who guessed it, Louis Collins. This is main song Josh used to build Folk Bloodbath.

    Delia (aka Delia's Gone) - Old blues song about the real murder of Delia Green in Savannah GA.

    Stag O'Lee (aka Staggerlee, Stackalee) - This is a very old blues song. The legend of Stack Lee might be older even than the actual murder he committed when he killed Billy Lyon's over a Stetson hat.

    Barbara Allen - This is a REALLY old song. It's from Ireland/Scotland/England but noone knows exactly were. The verse about being buried together and a rose and brair growing from thier graves is from this song.

    Oh, and for good measure "Hanging" Billy Lyon's is a reference to the "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker who was famous in the West for his willingness to give out the death sentence as a Federal Judge in the late 1800's.
    RideTheBlindson May 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningJust been to see Mr Ritter at the Barbican. He said that this song is a comedy. He explained that American folk music originated in Great Britain, and traditional folk music from Britain told a story that generally went along the lines of "here's a guy, and then he dies". Josh said that you never got a reason as to why he died, but somewhere as this music came across the pond American folk singers started to tag a moral onto the end.

    Josh said that he always found it funny that American folk singers felt the need to attach some sort of moral or meaning to the song, so decided to go back to basics and just make a song in which people die and that's that, hence the title. So the song, it seems, is a nod to American folk's roots and a lighthearted dig at old folk and blues songs.
    Bambinion September 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a song he's only done live, so I did my best with the lyrics. :) There's performance videos on youtube if you haven't heard it!
    SkylinePigeonon June 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've never heard this song but I've read over these lyrics a bunch of times and I really like it. I hope the music is as good as the lyrics
    matthewconteon April 18, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe line "i'm looking over rooftops and i'm hoping that it ain't true" is from peter killed the dragon.
    tpeverett1on December 05, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation"Stacker Lee" is usually written as "Stack O'Lee", though I've seen it with different spellings (e.g. "Stagger Lee") so perhaps it's just as well the way you have it. In the old blues song about Stack O'Lee, it's Billy Lyons (sometimes Billy De Lyon) who buys the stetson hat and who gets shot by Stack O'Lee, ostensibly over the hat. I like how Billy Lyons gets him back this time :)

    Anyone know the presumably pre-existing story about Louis Collins and Delia?

    tpeverett, what is "peter killed the dragon"? Is it a Josh Ritter song?
    nsteinmeon April 26, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSome other songs telling the stories of Delia, Stack O'Lee, and Louis Collins:

    Blind Willie McTell, "Delia"
    Bob Dylan, "Delia"
    Mississippi John Hurt, "Angels Laid Him Away"
    Mississippi John Hurt, "Stack O Lee"
    Mississippi John Hurt, "Louis Collins"
    Johnny Cash, "Delia's Gone"
    goodreverendon April 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song ComparisonI've loved this since the first time I witnessed Josh do it live; in a big club here. I thought I got it and what he was going for - what with all the folk song references; and he did allude in his introduction to everyone dying.
    I wanted to mention, on the same multiple-reference tip, that Bob Dylan's "Tryin' to Get to Heaven" also refers to several traditional songs, from "Miss Mary Jane" to "Goin' Down the Road"; and really works as a very deep meditation on life and mortality as Dylan faced his own, being then a man with a fungus around his heart.
    It's on "Time Out of Mind" (1997), and was covered by Robyn Hitchcock (with slight lyric changes) by Robyn Hitchcock with Gillian Welch & David Rawlings on the album 'Spooked' (2004). Robyn of course has done and released a great many Dylan songs.
    Thanks for your other thoughts on Josh's song.
    == Rev. Dan
    ILikeSinon June 12, 2013   Link

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