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The Ballad of Jesse James (WORD)
The Ballad of Jesse James (PDF)
"Jesse James" is a 19th century American folk song about the outlaw of the same name, first recorded by Bentley Ball in 1919 and subsequently by many others, including Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Vernon Dalhart, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, The Pogues, The Ramblin' Riversiders, The Country Gentlemen, Willy DeVille, Van Morrison, Bob Seger, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sons of the Pioneers, Johnny Cash, and Bruce Springsteen. The composer of the song is unknown, but it is attributed in the lyrics of some versions to a to "Billy Gashade" or ""Billy LaShade", though no historical record exists for anyone under either name. It is the most famous song about James. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. The lyrics are largely biographical containing a number of details from Jesse James' life, portraying him as an American version of Robin Hood, though there is no evidence to indicate that he actually "stole from the rich and gave to the poor". Robert Ford, who killed Jesse, was a James' gang member. Mr. Howard was the alias that James lived under in Saint Joseph, Missouri at the time of his killing.