When ya ain’t got nottin’ t’ say, it’s good ya got somebody t’ say it for ya

This is the story o’ Hezekiah Jones
Hezekiah Jones lived in a place in Arkansas
An’ he never had too much ‘cept he had some land
An’ he had a couple hogs and things like that

‘never had much money but ‘e
Spent what he didn’t make as fast as he made it
So it never really mattered
That he had much money

But, in the cupboard there
He kept in the cupboard
Kept in the cupboard, books
He called the books his “Rainy Season”

White folks around th’ county there talked about Hezekiah
They said: “Uh, well-l-l … ol’ Hezekiah, he’s … he’s harmless enough
But the way I see it he better put down them goddam books
Readin’ ain’t no good fer an ignorant nigger”

One day the white man’s preacher came ’round
Knockin’ on doors
Knockin’ on all the doors in the county
‘e knocked on Hezekiah’s door

‘e sez: “Hezekiah, you b’lieve in the Lord?”
Hezekiah sez: “Well-l-l, I don’t know
I never really seen the Lord …
I can’t say as I do”

‘e sez: “Hezekiah, you b’lieve in the church?”
Hezekiah sez: “Well the church is divided ain’t they?
They can’t make up their minds, I, why I’m just like them
I can’t make up mine neither”

‘e sez: “Hezekiah, d’ya b’lieve that if a man is good
Heaven is his last reward?”
Hezekiah sez: “I’m good!
Good as my neighbor”

“You don’t b’lieve in nothin’!” said the white man’s preacher
“You don’t b’lieve in nothin’!”. “Oh yes I do!” sez Hezikiah
“I believe that a man should be indebted to his neighbor
Not for the reward of a Heaven, or of a fear o’ hell fire”

“But you don’t understand!”
said the white man’s preacher
“There’s a lot of good ways
For a man to be wicked …”

An’ they hung Hezikiah as high as a pidgeon
White folks around there said
“Well-l-l … He had it comin’ …
‘Cause the son-of-a-bitch never had no religion!”

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One Response to When ya ain’t got nottin’ t’ say, it’s good ya got somebody t’ say it for ya

  1. Tomb. says:

    I first heard this story in 1969 off a bootlegged album by Bob Dylan. Your words are similar. I read it in a speech class that year…stunned the class, got an A. Later I researched the song. Turns out, as I recall, it comes from a British vaudeville type entertainer, who recorded it quite a while before Dylan. I think the name was Lord …someone.

    This is one of the few stories I have memorized and occasionaly play. I even named my son’s middle name Hezikiah. I quess the story left quite the impression.

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