Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Five Precepts Blues; #1.6 - Until equanimity has reached perfection

Mississippi John Hurt • Stack O'Lee

Police officer, how can it be?
You can 'rest everybody but cruel Stack O' Lee
That bad man, oh, cruel Stack O' Lee

Billy de Lyon told Stack O' Lee, "Please don't take my life,
I got two little babies, and a darlin' lovin' wife"
That bad man, oh, cruel Stack O' Lee

"What I care about you little babies, your darlin' lovin' wife?
You done stole my Stetson hat, I'm bound to take your life"
That bad man, cruel Stack O' Lee

boom-boom, boom-boom with a forty-four
When I spied Billy de Lyon, he was lyin' down on the floor
That bad man, oh cruel Stack O' Lee

"Gentleman's of the jury, what do you think of that?
Stack O' Lee killed Billy de Lyon about a five-dollar Stetson hat"
That bad man, oh, cruel Stack O' Lee

And all they gathered, hands way up high,
at twelve o'clock they killed him, they's all glad to see him die
That bad man, oh, cruel Stack O' Lee

Love imparts to equanimity its selflessness, its boundless nature and even its fervor...

Compassion guards equanimity from falling into cold indifference and keeps it from indolent or selfish isolation. Until equanimity has reached perfection, compassion urges it to enter again and again into the battlefields of the world.

Sympathetic joy gives to equanimity the mild serenity that softens its stern appearance. It is the divine smile on the face of the Enlightened One.

-Ven. Nyanaponika, from The Four Sublime States

There's something in the juxtaposition between the song and this quote that I couldn't resist coupling. It's hard to believe they both emerged from the same dimension, let alone the same world. And yet here they are, side by side!

 If you prefer a more up-tempo recording...Champion Jack Dupree • Stack-O-Lee


  1. All these years I thought it was "Stagger" Lee!

    I'm losing my equanimity, here . . .

  2. haha,
    Some of the later versions use the name Stagger Lee. The guy's nickname actually was 'Stagger' Lee, so I'm not sure where 'Stack O'Lee' came from.

    here Lloyd Price's Stagger Lee

    and Nick Cave's Stagger Lee

  3. Okay, got my equanimity back.

    And - WOW!!! - that version by Nick Cave is astonishing.

    You know, this series of posts is one of the most creative expressions of Buddhadharma I've seen online. I think I'll write about it on Ox Herding and encourage my readers to wander over here, if they haven't already. Really, Joseph - this has been a wonderful juxtaposition of content. Thank you!

  4. thank you! I didn't expect that! I'd had this idea for a while and decided to finally get it out of my system. I'm not sure if I gained or lost readers during the past month! haha

    And Nick Cave...
    Almost a little too believable!
    I think he based it on Johnny Otis' version, but I didn't see that one on youtube...