Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll Revisited

From the New York Times:

William Devereux Zantzinger, whose six-month sentence in the fatal caning of a black barmaid named Hattie Carroll at a Baltimore charity ball moved Bob Dylan to write a dramatic, almost journalistic song in 1963 that became a classic of modern American folk music, died on Jan. 3. He was 69.


On Aug. 29, The New York Times published a dispatch by United Press International, reporting on the sentencing. A friend of Mr. Dylan showed the singer the article. Some accounts say he wrote the song ["The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"] at an all-night coffee shop on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, others that he wrote it at the singer Joan Baez’s house in Carmel, Calif.

The stories of the caning and Zantzinger's life are pretty sad material.

On the Mondegreen front -- see here and here for previous examples -- I always thought that the lyric was

Williams and Zinger killed poor Hattie Carroll.

I guess I should have paid more attention to the verb conjugation elsewhere in the song.

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