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Sam Hall Origins and Lyrics

The credit for the lyrics to this traditional English Folk tune has been traced to an English minstrel, CW Ross, sometime in the 1850s. The original lyrics appear to use the name Jack Hall rather than Sam Hall. The reason for the discrepancy in names is unclear but the modern version of the song uses Sam Hall.

According to the legend, as a child, Jack Hall had been sold to a chimney sweep for the price of guinea. He later adopted a Robin Hood life style entered a life of crime and was hanged in 1701 for burglary. There are several other tunes from this same era that fall into the same basic metre, one of which is titled Chimney Sweep and is likely related to this tune.

This tune caught my attention on the Glengarry Bhoys 2007 Mill Sessions release. The dark cadence and theme of the song captured my imagination quickly. Upon further research, there is reference to many versions including one by Johnny Cash and two by Carl Sandburg.

Now my name is Sam Hall,
Chimney Sweep, Chimney Sweep
Oh my name is Sam Hall,
Chimney Sweep
Oh my name is Sam Hall,
And I've robb'd both great and small,
And my neck shall pay for all
When I die, when I die,
And my neck shall pay for all when I die.

I have twenty Pounds In store
Thats not all , Thats not all ,
I have twenty Pounds In store,
Thats not all
I have twenty Pounds In store,
And I'll rob for tweny more
Oh the rich must help the poor so must I, so must I
Oh the rich must help the poor so must I

Now I killed a man they said,
so they said, so they said
Oh I killed a man they said,
so they said
Oh I killed a man they said
bashed in his bloody head
And I left him layin dead
Blast his eyes damn his Soul
And I left him layin dead, Blast his eyes

Ah They took me to Cooth Hill
In a cart, in a cart
Ah They took me to Cooth Hill
In a cart
Ah They took me to Cooth Hill
and I stopped to make me will
Oh The best of friends must part so must I, so must I
Oh The best of friends must part so must I

Up the ladder I did Grope
that's no joke , thats no joke,
Up the ladder I did Grope
that's no joke
Up the ladder I did Grope
and the hangman pulled the rope
And ne're a word I spoke, tumblin' down, tumblin' down
And ne're a word I spoke, tumblin' down

Now my name is Sam Hall,
Chimney Sweep, Chimney Sweep
Oh my name is Sam Hall,
Chimney Sweep
Oh my name is Sam Hall,
And I hate you one and all
You're a bunch of mucker's(bastards) all
Blast your eyes. Damn your souls
You're a bunch of mucker's all, Blast your eyes.

Here is a version by the Dubliners

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