Three Portraits


Song Cycle by Robert F. Baksa (b. 1938)

1. The Banjo Player [sung text not yet checked]

   There is music in me, the music of a peasant people.
    I wander through the levee, picking my banjo 
and singing my songs of the cabin and the field.  
At the Last Chance Saloon I am as welcome
as the violets in March; there is always 
food and drink for me there,
and the dimes of those who love honest music.  
Behind the railroad tracks the little children clap their hands 
and love me like they love Kris Kringle.
    But I fear that I am a failure. 
Last night a woman called me 
a troubadour. 
What is a troubadour?


Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The Drunkard [sung text checked 1 time]

  I had a wife but, but she is gone. She left me a week ago. God bless her!
  I married another in the rear of Mike's saloon. It was a gallon jug of
the reddest liquor that ever burned the throat of man. I will be true to my
new wife.  You can have the other.


Researcher for this text: Robert Baksa

3. The Minister [sung text checked 1 time]

   I mastered pastoral theology, the Greek of the Apostles, and all the
difficult subjects in a minister's carriculum.
   I was as learned as any in this country when the Bishop ordained me.
   And I went to preside over Mount Moriah, largest flock in the
   I preached the word as I felt it, I visited the sick and dying and
comforted the afflicted in spirit.
   I loved my work because I loved my God.
   But I lost my charge to Sam Jenkins, who has not been to school four
years in his life.
   I lost my charge because I could not make my congregation shout.
   And my dollar money was small, very small.
   Sam Jenkins can tear the Bible to tatters and his congregation destroys
the pews with their shouting and stamping.
   Sam Jenkins leads in the gift of raising dollar money.
   Such is religion.


Researcher for this text: Robert Baksa
Total word count: 303