STEPHEN SONDHEIM


The Ballad Of Booth Lyrics

[BALLADEER]
Someone tell the story,
Someone sing the song.

Every now and then
The country Goes a little wrong.

Every now and then
A madman's Bound to come along.
Doesn't stop the story-
Story's pretty strong.
Doesn't change the song...

Johnny Booth was a handsome devil,
Got up in his rings and fancy silks.
Had him a temper but kept it level.
Everybody called him Wilkes.

Why did you do it, Johnny?
Nobody agrees.
You who had everything,
What made you bring
A nation to its knees?

Some say it was your voice had gone,
Some say it was booze.
They say you killed a coutry, John,
Because of bad reviews.

Johnny lived with a grace and glitter.
Kind of like the lives he lived on stage.
Died in a barn in pain and bitter
Twenty-seven years of age.

Why did you do it, Johnny,
Throw it all away?
Why did you do it, boy,
Not just destroy
The pride and joy
Of Illinois,
But all the U.S.A.?

Your brother made you jealous, John,
You couldn't fill his shoes.
Was that the reason, tell us, John-
Along with bad reviews.

[BOOTH]
Damn!

[HEROLD]
They're coming! They'll be here any minute-

[BOOTH]
I need your help, Davy.

I've got to write this and I can't hold the pen

[HEROLD]
Johnny, they've found us!
We've got to get out of here!

[BOOTH]
No! I have to make my case!
And I need you to take it down!

[HEROLD]
We don't have time!

[BOOTH]
Take it down-

An indictment.
Of the former President of the United States,
Abraham Lincoln, who is herein charged
with the following high crimes and misdemeanors.

[BALLADEER]
They say your ship was sinking, John...

[BOOTH]
One:
That you did ruthlessly provoke a war between the
States, which cost some six hundred thousand
of my countrymen their lives. Two-

[BALLADEER]
You'd started missing cues...

[BOOTH]
Two:
That you did silence your critics in the North,
by hurling them into prison without benefit of charge
or trial. Three-

[BALLADEER]
They say it wasn't Lincoln, John.

[BOOTH]
Shut up! Three-

[BALLADEER]
You'd merely had a slew of bad
Reviews-

[BOOTH]
I said shut up!

[VOICE]
Booth! I have fifty soldiers out here Booth!
Give yourselves up or we'll set fire to the barn!

[HEROLD]
Don't shoot! I'm coming out!

[BOOTH]
No!

I have given up my life for one act, you understand?
Do not let history rob me of its meaning.
Pass on the truth! You're the only one who can.
Please...

[BALLADEER]
He said
"Damn you Lincoln,
You had your way-

[BOOTH]
Tell'em, boy!

[BALLADEER]
With blood you drew out
Of blue and gray!"

[BOOTH]
Tell it all!
Tell'em till they listen!

[BALLADEER]
He said,
"Damn you, Lincoln,
And damn the day
You threw the 'U' out
Of U.S.A!"

He said:

[BOOTH]
Hunt me down, smear my name,
Say I did it for the fame,
What I did was kill the man who killed my country.
Now the Southland will mend,
Now this bloody war can end,
Because someone slew the tyrant
Just as Brutus slew the tyrant-

[BALLADEER]
He said:

[BALLADEER, BOOTH]
Damn you, Lincoln,
You righteous whore!

[BOOTH]
Tell'em!
Tell'em what he did!

[BALLADEER, BOOTH]
You turned your spite into Civil War!

[BOOTH]
Tell'em!
Tell'em the truth!

[BALLADEER]
And more...

[BOOTH]
Tell'em, boy!
Tell them how it happened,

How the end doesn't mean that it's over,
How surrender is not the end!
Tell them:

How the country is not what it was,
Where there's blood on the clover,
How the nation can never again
Be the hope that it was.

How the bruises may never be healed,
How the wounds are forever,
How we gave up the field
But we still wouldn't yield,

How the union can never recover
From that Vulgar,
High and mighty
Niggerlover,
Never-!

Never. Never. Never.
No, the country is not what it was...

Damn my soul if you must,
Let my body turn to dust,
Let it mingle with the ashes of the country.

Let them curse me to hell,
Leave it to history to tell:
What I did, I did well,
And I did it for my country.

Let them cry, "dirty traitor!"
They will understand it later-
The country is not what it was...

[BALLADEER]
Johnny Booth was a headstrong fellow,
Even he believed the things he said.
Some called him noble, some said yellow.
What he was was off his head.

How could you do it, Johnny,
Calling it a cause?
You left a legacy
Of butchery
And treason we
Took eagerly,
And thought you'd get applause.

But traitors just get jeers and boos,
Not visits to their graves,
While Lincoln, who got mixed reviews,
Because of you, John, now gets only raves.

Damn, you Johnny,
You paved the way
For other madmen
To make us pay.
Lots of madmen
Have had their say-
But only for a day.

Listen to the stories.
Hear it in the songs.
Angry men
Don't write the rules
And guns don't write the wrongs.

Hurts a while,
But soon the country's
Back where it belongs,
And that's the truth.

Still and all,
Damn you Booth!

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Songwriter(s): Stephen Sondheim
Publisher(s): Rilting Music Inc.

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