“Sam Bass”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1888 (Thorp)
Keywords: cowboy death betrayal
Found in: US(Ap,MW,Ro,So,SW)

Description

Sam Bass, a cowpuncher and at first a kind-hearted fellow, turns to train robbery. Betrayed by an acquaintance named Jim Murphy, he is killed by a Texas Ranger

Notes

Report has it that Bass had his shootout with the police on July 20, 1878; he was captured the next day and died the day after. That July 22 is said to have been his 27th birthday.

This song has been attributed (e.g. by Thorpe) to a John Denton of Gainesville, Texas, and supposedly written in 1879, but most scholars think that multiple hands have been involved. - RBW

Historical references

Recordings

References

  1. Laws E4, "Sam Bass"
  2. Belden, pp. 399-400, "Sam Bass" (1 text plus mention of 2 more)
  3. Randolph 142, "Young Sam Bass" (1 text plus a long excerpt, 1 tune)
  4. Friedman, p. 375, "Sam Bass" (1 text)
  5. Sandburg, pp. 422-424, "Sam Bass" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Thorp/Fife X, pp. 112-120 (24-26), "Sam Bass" (3 texts, 1 tune)
  7. Fife-Cowboy/West 95, "Sam Bass" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Larkin, pp. 158-161, "Sam Bass" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Lomax-FSUSA 81, "Sam Bass" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 126-128, "Sam Bass" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. LPound-ABS, 66, pp. 149-152, "Sam Bass" (1 text)
  12. Burt, pp. 199-200, "Sam Bass" (1 short text)
  13. JHJohnson, pp. 96-98, "Sam Bass" (1 text)
  14. Darling-NAS, pp. 190-191, "Sam Bass" (1 text)
  15. Silber-FSWB, p. 196, "Sam Bass" (1 text)
  16. Saffel-CowboyP, p. 204-205, "Sam Bass" (1 text)
  17. DT 621, SAMBASS*
  18. Roud #2244
  19. BI, LE04