La version sur un mode comique de la chanson traditionnelle Bad Lee Brown, que l’on trouve sous le titre Little Sadie sur ce site dans l’interprétation de Doc Watson, que donne ici le Kingston Trio est due à Cisco Houston et Lee Hays. Elle s’écarte assez considérablement des versions les plus classiques, mais n’en est pas moins parfaitement reconnaissable, pour quelques détails qui sont une permanence dans cette chanson : l’homme commet un meurtre et va tranquillement se coucher, son pistolet sous son oreiller ; il tente de s’enfuir le lendemain matin, mais est rattrapé au Mexique. A la fin, il est condamné à une lourde peine de prison. Mais dans cette version, ce n’est pas une femme (a fortiori sa femme) qui est tuée, mais un adjoint au shérif, le point commun avec les versions habituelles étant que ce meurtre semble n’avoir aucune motivation particulière, si ce n’est que le meurtrier se sentait d’humeur méchante.

Le Kingston Trio multiplie dans son interprétation les formules humoristiques et les sourires qui donnent un côté décalé à une chanson dans le fond plutôt sombre, en en faisant un genre de parodie plus ou moins absurde. C’est, en diffusant la musique populaire, une manière de second degré ironique de la considérer.


BAD MAN’S BLUNDER

Well, early one evening I was roamin’ around;
I was feelin’ kind of mean, I shot a deputy down.
Strolled on home, and I went to bed.
Well, I laid my pistol up under my head.

He strolled along home (I took my time) and he went to bed (Thought I’d sleep some)
Laid his pistol (Big twenty-two) up under his head; (I keep it handy)

Well, early next morning ’bout the break of day,
I figured it was time to make a getaway.
Steppin’ right along but I was steppin’ too slow.
Got surrounded by a sheriff down in Mexico.

He was steppin’ right along (Were a hot-footin’ it) but he was steppin’ too slow (It was a sultry day)
Got surrounded by a sheriff (Boxed in) in Mexico. (I didn’t even have a chance to see the country.)

When I was arrested; why, I didn’t have a dime.
The sheriff said, « Son, you’re ridin’ free this time.
Where you’re goin’ you won’t need a cent
‘Cause the great state of Texas gonna pay your rent.

‘Cause where you’re goin’ (I think he means jail) you won’t need a cent (When he knows I’m broke)
‘Cause the great state of Texas (Yippee!) gonna pay your rent. (I’m mighty grateful, fellas)

Well, I didn’t have a key and I didn’t have a file.
Natur’lly I stayed around until my trial.
The judge was an old man; ninety-three
And I didn’t like the way the jury looked at me.

The judge was an old man (Too old) Ninety-three (Entirely too old)
I didn’t like the way the jury looked at me. (I think they were suspicious.)

The judge and the jury, they did agree.
They all said murder in the first degree.

The judge said, saying: I don’t know whether to hang you or not, but this here killin’ of deputy sheriffs, just naturally got to stop! » (« You’ve got a point there, judge! »)

It was a most unsatisfactory trial.
They gave me ninety-nine years on the hard rock pile.
Ninety and nine on the hard rock ground.
All I ever did was shoot a deputy down.

Ninety and nine (It could have been life.) on the hard rock pile (They might-a hung me)
And all he ever did was shoot a deputy down (This whole thing has sure been a lesson to me. Bang! You’re dead!)