On the lonesome death of Hattie Carroll

Imagine, the same day that King gave his speech
of a time and his dream, and reached into minds
and beliefs that times were a’changing, out of reach
in a courtroom a man. Stood accused, not making amends
for beating a mother of ten, a barmaid to death.
He was pardoned for being too drunk, for being a white
a slap on the hand and six month for stopping her breath,
cause her skin was too dark, and richer has rights.
Bob Dylan and Joan, had been, had believed, but
when hearing of Hattie’s demise, decided to write,
a song, or a poem, a protest, a punch in the gut.
That things need a-changing, that nothing is right.


I read the wonderfully sad “the lonesome death of Hattie Carroll” and instead of using Bob Dylan’s word, I tried to get behind the writing of the lyric. Apparently the courtroom decision coincided with Martin Luther King giving his famous “I have a dream” speech, where Joan Baez and Robert Zimmerman where listening.

October 13, 2016

17 responses to “On the lonesome death of Hattie Carroll

  1. Oh its so sad that at times justice isn’t quite served and racial prejudice prevails. I so agree with “That things need a-changing, that nothing is right.” Powerful write.

  2. Yes. Any time of injustice os bad. These folk balladeers often wrote of injustice and the wrongs done. They write so often that unfortunately, society becomes jadeded. When one hears of constant negative political words, one sometimes shuts off. I remember this was my reaction when I first heard this. Hearung it again a few years later, i heard it fresh and my heart wept at the injustice.

  3. We have made some strides in our society toward justice for all…but not nearly enough. This is a tragic story and demonstrates so well “white privilege.”

  4. This is a moving share Bjorn ~ Times have not changed that much & this line is still relevant:

    That things need a-changing, that nothing is right.

  5. I think this is why I like Dylan’s song ‘Hurricane’, because he’s telling a true story. You got the rhyming just right in this, Björn ,

  6. Did not know this story. You are inside these lyrics, these words.

    I look at where we are right now, and the rantings of “make America great again” which is really “take us back to the good ole times” – which in reality, were the worst of times for so many.

  7. Lonesome murder-victims make for the most interesting ghost/s(tories), don’t you think?

    This is how “off” my head is:
    “not making amends
    for beating a mother of ten” … Out of all the times I’ve read this poem, this is the first reading in which it has occurred to me that you meant she had ten kids; all the while, I’ve been picturing her as being ten years old, and having a child. 🙂 Isn’t that crazy?!

  8. As I write I am listening to the song since it is a long time since I heard it. What can I say? You raise a spectre here. For all the valiant speeches, protest songs and movements, we appear to be ruled by the same uncaring, unforgiving, self serving elite. Food for thought.

I try to reciprocate all comments. If you want me to visit a particular post, please direct me directly to that post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.