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(written by Willie Nelson; learned in 1959 from Tom Aley at UC Hiking Club folksinging parties)

(music to go here)

The red-headed stranger from Blue Rock, Montana
Rode into town one day
He rode on the back of a slapping black stallion
And following behind was a bay
The red-headed stranger had eyes like the sunset
Lips that were drawn and tight
For his little lost darlin' lay asleep on the hillside
His heart was as heavy as night.
    Don't cross him, don't boss him, he's wild in his sorrow
    He's riding and hiding his pain
    Don't fight him, don't slight him, just wait till tomorrow
    And maybe he'll ride on again.

The yellow-haired woman looked out her window,
Watched as he passed her way
She drew back in fear of the slapping black stallion
But cast greedy eyes on the bay
But how could she know that that dancing bay pony
Meant more to him than life
For that was the horse that his little lost darlin'
Had ridden when she was his wife.
    Don't cross him, don't boss him...

The yellow-haired woman went down to the tavern
Looked up the stranger there
He bought her a drink and gave her some money
But he just didn't seem to care
She followed him out as he saddled the stallion
Laughed as she grabbed at the bay
He shot her so quick they had no time to warn her
She never heard anyone say:
    Don't cross him, don't boss him...

The yellow-haired woman was buried at sunset
The stranger went free, of course
You can't hang a man for shooting a woman
Who's trying to steal his horse
So this is the tale of the red-headed stranger
And if he should come your way
Step out of the path of the slapping black stallion
And don't lay a hand on the bay.
    Don't cross him, don't boss him...

(from miriam berg's folksong collection)