The Very Unfortunate Man

Lyrics: Traditional/Jimmy Driftwood
Music: Traditional/Jimmy Driftwood

Played by Jerry Garcia withh an unnamed bluegrass band in Burlingame in January 1962. Thanks to Matt Schofield for the lyrics.

There was a lawyer, his name was Clay (note 1)
He had but two clients and they wouldn't pay
At last of starvation he grew so afraid
That he courted and married a wealthy old maid

At the wedding the lawyer made one big mistake
'Twas not in omitting the wine or the cake
The ring was well chosen, they had a big feed
But the lawyer did not get a warranty deed

At night in their chamber the lady arose
And began to prepare to retire and repose
Her husband stood near her admiring her charms
That gave him such pleasure to hold in his arms

She went to the washstand to bathe her fair face
And thus she destroyed all her beauty and grace
The rose on her cheek quickly grew faint
When he saw on the towel, 'twas nothing but paint

He's a very unfortunate, very unfortunate, very unfortunate man

She went to the mirror to take down her hair
And when she had done so her scalp was all bare
Said she, don't be frightened to see my bald head
I'll put on a cap when I get into bed

She hung her false hair on the wall on a peg
And then she proceeded to take off her leg
Her quivering husband felt sure he would die
When she asked him to come and take out her glass eye

He's a very unfortunate, very unfortunate, very unfortunate man

Her husband was biting his quivering lips
While she removed her counterfeit hips
Just then her false nose clattered down to the floor
And the poor lawyer, screaming, ran out of the door

Now all you young men who would marry for life
Be sure to examine your intended wife
Remember the lawyer who trusted his eyes
And a little bit later got quite a surprise

He's a very unfortunate, very unfortunate, very unfortunate man
(1) the first two lines are missing on the circulating tape.
(2) Duane kindly sent me a copy of the lyrics as Jimmy Driftwood sang them. They are almost identical to the above with a few minor variations (e.g. "trembling husband" rather than "quivering husband"). The first two lines of the Driftwood version are "There once was a lawyer, they called Mr. Clay/He had but few clients and they wouldn't pay" but I'm anyway not sure where the first two lines above come from as they weren't on the tape.

Further Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography


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