Old Man Brown

Story Behind The Song

John Brown was an abolitionist who gained his reputation in "Bleeding Kansas" where he killed 5 pro-slavery men. He then led a raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859 where he was captured and hung. His death sparked The Civil War.

Song Length 4:18 Genre Folk - General, Folk - Country
Tempo Medium (111 - 130) Lead Vocal Male Vocal
Mood Nonviolent, Passive Subject Protest, Civil Rights
Language English Era 1800 - 1899


His conscience was a searing
that lit the Kansas plains
the sweat of slaves, it would confound
the South's ill-gotten gains.

He led a band of ragtag men
from servi tude and slumber
and offered them their calling
in plumes of smoke and thunder

old man brown, old man brown 2x
as he swayed above the ground,
the weight of shackles all around,
noone could turn their eyes away
til they cut him down
Old Man Brown

A prophet's message is reviled
until death stills his voice
It's safer then to champion
his grim and lonely choice.

A seer or a madman
the history books now weigh
but all agree he was the spark
that lit the Judgment Day.


higher callings always seem to bring the good men down.
For Brown it was a rope hangin' there in Charles Town
But as he swayed above the ground,
the wail of shackles all around,
noone turned their eyes away
til they cut him down
Old Man Brown

Lyrics Norman Ball Music Lonnie Glass, Michael Sherman

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