The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

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About The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

"The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" is a topical song written by the American musician Bob Dylan. Recorded on October 23, 1963, the song was released on Dylan's 1964 album, The Times They Are a-Changin' and gives a generally factual account of the killing of a 51-year-old African-American barmaid, Hattie Carroll, by the 24-year-old William Devereux "Billy" Zantzinger (February 7, 1939 – January 3, 2009), a young man from a wealthy white tobacco farming family in Charles County, Maryland, and of his subsequent sentence to six months in a county jail, after being convicted of assault. The lyrics are a commentary on 1960s racism. When Carroll was killed in 1963, Charles County was still strictly segregated by race in public facilities such as restaurants, churches, theaters, doctor's offices, buses and the county fair. The schools of Charles County were not integrated until 1967.  


Year:
1968
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William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gathering
And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him
As they rode him in custody down to the station
And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears

William Zanzinger, who at twenty-four years
Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres
With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him
And high office relations in the politics of Maryland
Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders
And swear words and sneering, and his tongue it was snarling
In a matter of minutes, on bail was out walking
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears

Hattie Carroll was a maid in the kitchen
She was fifty-one years old and gave birth to ten children
Who carried the dishes and took out the garbage
And never sat once at the head of the table
And didn't even talk to the people at the table
Who just cleaned up all the food from the table
And emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level
Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane
That sailed through the air and came down through the room
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle
And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger
And you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin'
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan ( /ˈdɪlən/; born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and artist. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan's early songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'", became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan's six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" has been described as radically altering the parameters of popular music in … more »

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Written by: Bob Dylan

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