CONVERSATIONS WITH DEATH aka OH, DEATH
Dock Boggs, vocal and banjo.
Recorded by Mike Seeger - 1963
Polly Johnson recorded ten verses of the song in 1939 for Emory Hamilton and it has been recorded
by John Cohen from a number of western North Carolina singers. For a full tracing of the song back
to its British antecedents, see "Death and a Lady: Echoes of a Mortal Conversation in English and
American Folksong Tradition," an unpublished M.A. thesis done at the University of North Carolina
in 1966 by Katherine Susan Barks. Dock learned his version of "Oh, Death" from his friend Lee Hunsucker
in the 1930s and fit it to Homer Crawford's unusual D tuning of f#CGAD, starting with the fifth string.
What is this that I can see
With icy hands taking hold on me,
I am death and none can excel
I'll open the doors to heaven or hell.
Oh. death, oh, death, can 't you spare me over till another year?
Oh, death, oh, death, please spare me over till another year.
Oh. death, someone would pray,
Couldn’t you call some other day,
God's children prayed. the preacher's preached,
The time of mercy is out of your reach.
I'll fix your feet so you can't walk,
I'll lock your jaws so you can't talk, Close your eyes so you can 't see
This very hour come go with me.
Death, I come to take the soul
Lea ve the body and leave it cold, To drop the flesh oft of the frame
The earth and worms both have a claim.
My mother come to my bed
Place a cold towel upon my head, My head is warm, my feet is cold
Death is moving upon my soul.
Oh, death, how you treating me Close my eyes so I can 't see,
You hurt my body. you make me cold,
You 're ruling my life right out of my soul.
Oh, death, please consider my age
Please don 't take me at this stage.
My wealth is all at your command
If you will move your icy hand.
The old, the young, the rich or poor,
Are all alike with me, you know,
No wealth, no land, no silver, no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul.