The Prisoner's Song

Vernon Dalhart

About The Prisoner's Song

"The Prisoner's Song" is a song copyrighted by Vernon Dalhart in 1924 in the name of Dalhart's cousin Guy Massey, who had sung it while staying at Dalhart's home and had in turn heard it from his brother Robert Massey, who may have heard it while serving time in prison."The Prisoner's Song" was one of the best-selling songs of the 1920s, particularly in the recording by Vernon Dalhart. The Vernon Dalhart version was recorded on Victor Records in October 1924 and marketed in the hillbilly music genre. It was likely one of the best-selling records of the early 20th century. Although contemporary data show that Victor pressed slightly over 1.3 million copies during the record's peak years of popularity, anecdotal accounts sourced from a 1940s promotional flyer report sales as high as 7 million. The song's publisher at the time, Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., reportedly sold over one million copies of the song's sheet music. It was later performed by, among others, Hank Snow, Bill Monroe, and Brenda Lee. The first verse was sung by Liberace at the end of an episode of the 1960s television show Batman in which Liberace played the double role of twin criminal brothers, both of whom ended the episode behind bars. 


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Oh, I wish I had some-one to love me 
Some-one to call me their own 
Oh, I wish I had some-one to live with 
'Cause I'm ti-red of liv-in' a-lone 

Oh, please meet me to-night in the moon-light 
Please meet me to-night all a-lone 
For I have a sad sto-ry to tell you 
It's a sto-ry that's nev-er been told 

I'll be car-ried to the new jail to-mor-row 
Leav-ing my poor dar-ling all a-lone 
With the cold pris-on bars all a-round me 
And my head on a pil-low of stone 

Now I have a grand ship on the o-cean 
All mount-ed with sil-ver and gold 
And be-fore my poor dar-lin' would suf-fer 
Oh! that ship would be an-chored and sold 

Now if I had wings like an an-gel 
O-ver these pri-son walls I would fly 
And I'd fly to the arms of my poor dar-lin' 
And there I'd be wil-ling to die 

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Vernon Dalhart

Vernon Dalhart (April 6, 1883 – September 14, 1948), born Marion Try Slaughter, was a popular American singer and songwriter of the early decades of the 20th century. He is a major influence in the field of country music. more »

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Written by: GUY MASSEY


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    The Prisoner's Song

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    The Prisoner's Song

    • Boardwalk Empire Volume 2