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Songs of the West

Four Cords 

The Girl in the Blue Velvet Band

     I learned this song from a disk jockey program in 1946, but I do not remember the singer. Later I heard the version by Bill Monroe, but there were several minor differences in words that did not affect the story at all. In about 1947 I bought in a Berkeley cigar shop a tabloid size paper published by The Hobo News, with the descriptive title, "Two Hundred Popular Recitations, Stories & Poems, by Old and New Masters." Near the front of this newsprint booklet I found what was probably a recitation, 38 four line stanzas titled "Girl with the Blue Velvet Band," with beneath the title the words, "John Leonard's Masterpiece." The opening and closing stanzas were quite similar to the opening and closing stanzas of the song I heard and learned. Thirty-eight stanzas were really too much for me at that time. From the text I put together the verse that probably few who remember the song recall, but it gives a strong suggestion of the interesting story that I found in that fifty cent, 64 page purchase.

In a city of riches and fashion,
In Frisco where I first saw light,
With its numerous adventures and frolics
So fresh in my memory tonight.

One evening while out on a ramble,
The hour was just about nine,
I met a young maiden in Frisco
On the corner of Kearny and Pine.

On her face there was beauty of nature;
Her eyes, they seemed to expand;
Her hair, so rich and so brilliant,
Was entwined in a blue velvet band.

We strolled down the long street together,
In my pocket she placed her small hand;
She planted the evidence on me,
Oh, the girl in the blue velvet band.

I heard the wild scream of the siren,
And the girl in the blue velvet band,
She left me to face all the trouble
With the diamond that was worth ten grand.

She had taught me the Confidence racket,
No equal had I as a Dip,
She fell in love with the chief detective,
Who sent me up for a long prison trip.

They sent me to San Quentin prison;
God knows I'm an innocent man.
But the guilty one now she is dying,
Oh, the girl in the blue velvet band.

One evening as bedtime was nearing,
I was standing close to the bars,
I fancied I heard a voice calling,
Far over the ocean of stars.

I'll be out in a week then I'm leaving,
But I'll carry the name of a man,
Who served ten years in prison
For the girl in the blue velvet band.

And when I get out I'll endeavor
To live in some other land
And bid farewell to old Frisco
And the grave of my blue velvet band.
And bid farewell to old Frisco
And the grave of my blue velvet band.