Where the Truckee River flows toward Reno way,
And the good men work the sawmill for their pay.
On the edge of the rugged lumber town,
Lived Sam and Bess and their one son, DAVIS BROWN.

We wondered at the things young Davis did.
He was growin' up a wild and reckless kid.
Folks said he'd never come to any good,
But there were those of us who always hoped he would.

In the spring when he was just sixteen years old,
He rode away in the early mornin' cold.
Left his folks with worry in their minds -
Not a word of farewell had he left behind.

The summer passed and winter came along.
Sam and Bess had been worried for so long.
Each night they built a fire to keep them warm,
And they hoped their only boy'd stay out of harm

In the middle of the winter and the snow
A man came up from the valley down below.
Said he'd only be a little while in town -
He was lookin' for the folks whose name was Brown.

He stood inside their lonely cabin door.
He was a Sacramento sheriff, nothin' more.
Said he'd had a lot of trouble in his town,
And he'd shot and killed a boy named DAVIS BROWN.

Sam and Bess still build that fire to keep them warm,
And they wish their only boy'd stayed out of harm.
Folks said he'd never come to any good,
But there were those of us who'd always hoped he would.
Folks always said he'd never come to good.
There were those of us who'd hoped and prayed he would.

Hank's Notes

Back in the 1960's while living in Santa Barbara I read that Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell had written Darcy Farrow for an ethnomusicology class while at UCLA. As with many legends, that turns out not to be true. (Here's a link to the real story about Darcy Farrow.) However, at the time I didn't know the truth, and I got an urge to write something that might pass for an old folk ballad. Davis Brown is the result of that urge. I think the song comes fully to life with Shaidri's rendition.


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rev. 1/5/10