The Gravedigger Blues

It’s a good job, Mr. Ditch
Not without its benefits.
We sleep all day and work at night
‘til diggin’ gives us an appetite
for something extra on the side–
the tips we earn but ‘ave to hide.
The stuff they bury with the dead
why it’s enuf to turn your head.
The rich may never pay their taxes
but even they will get the axes
just like me and you and you
in the end they gotta pay their dues
to the gravedigger, gravedigger
they’ll get the gravedigger blues.

Now, we was ‘appy, me and Jim
I always liked to dig with ‘im.
He had an eye for the richest guy
or a lady cut from the 2% pie.
He always bought the bestest gin
an’ all night long we’d dig and grin.
We kep’ our spades and shovels sharp
wait our turn ‘til after dark
an’ pry the tops from caskets loose
and ‘elp ourselves to the deceased’s loot.
Why we’d find rings and golden chains,
good luck charms (ha!) ‘n’ other things
take ‘em to our local shark
who paid us lots to bring ‘em in!
It was really such a lark!
Why, there was stuff to make you stare!
Diamond ‘eadbands in their ‘air!
We’d search em up and feel ‘em down–
a pocket watch was worth 10 pound.
Now you might think us awful rough
and you might think we really sinned
but we’re all equal in the end
lyin’ down and lookin’ up.
And since they’ve gone the loop-de-loo
they won’t miss a pearl or two.
They’ll never even know they got
the gravedigger, gravedigger
gravedigger blues.

Now as it ‘appens—let me see—
this ‘eadache hurts my memory—
We was diggin’ for Mr. Brown on ‘alloween!
I was in a hole lookin’ up at Jim
and he was up lookin’ down at me.
Aye, that coffin was full of gems.
The gin me mate had bought was sweet,
and we dug that ditch two feet too deep.
The next event that I saw comin’
was Jim’s shovel just a–hummin’
as he swung that spade and sealed my fate.
With all his might he struck me pate
an’ it was my trust in ‘im, my own mate
that made me duck that much too late.
Jim, he left me where I fell
laughed and wished me well in ‘ell,
covered me with that 2 feet
we’d accidentally dug too deep.

So when they lowered Mr. Brown
in his coffin in the ground,
no one knew I lay beneath.
But you can’t keep a good man down.
Jim, he’ll be coming back alright
one dark moonless Autumn night.
Guess who’ll be waiting ‘ere for him.
He didn’t ‘ave to be so greedy.
He warn’t really all the needy.
I shoulda seen that he was seedy
thieving, no-count SOB.
What he did he’ll soon regret.
On that, my friend, you place your bet.
We dug graves while we was livin’
and once he’s dead we’ll keep on diggin’.
Passin’ by he’ll ‘ear me sounds
of pick on rock and dirt slung ‘round.
In the milky light of a big, fat moon
good ole Jim’ll hear me croon,
singin’ how he’ll join me soon.

‘Cause he’s not special; he’ll fall, too
 to the tune of the gravedigger’s,
gravedigger’s, gravedigger’s blues.
(And one of these days, so will you!)

Mendy Knott
for the Day of the Dead Party at Still on the Hill’s  11/2/2012