53: Marie Laveau

53: Marie Laveau

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Marie Laveau

Story by Bobby Bare

Song written by Shel Silverstein and Baxter Taylor

Recorded by Bobby Bare

The first time I met Shel Silverstein was at a party at Harlan Howard’s house in the late 1960s. I thought he was brilliant. The following week, he came in from Chicago and he brought me a whole bunch of songs. A couple of years later, we put them on an album called Legends, Lullabies, and Lies and “Marie Laveau” was part of that album. It also had “Daddy, What If?” and a bunch of other great songs.

“Marie Laveau” was about a voodoo witch in Louisiana and a suitor who tries to get her to use her powers for his gain. I thought it was a great song, but I wasn’t sure how big a hit it would be. Chet Atkins knew, though. He produced Legends, Lullabies, and Lies and he said it would be the biggest song on the album and it was. Chet always knew what he was talking about. It hit #1 and stayed there for about thirteen weeks.

When we went to record “Marie Laveau,” there is a part where Marie screams this god-awful witch’s scream, and Shel was the one that did that scream. That was about the extent of his singing ability. He was an incredible songwriter, but he couldn’t sing worth anything.

Marie Laveau

Down in Louisana, where the black trees grow

Lives a voodoo lady named Marie Laveau

Got a black cat’s tooth and a Mojo bone

And anyone who wouldn’t leave her alone

She’d go (scream) another man done gone.

She lives in a swamp in a hollow log

With a one-eyed snake and a three-legged dog

She’s got a bent, bony body and stringy hair

If she ever seen y’all messin’ ’round there

She’d go (scream) another man done gone.

And then one night when the moon was black

Into the swamp come handsome Jack

A no-good man like you all know

He was lookin’ around for Marie Laveau.

He said “Marie Laveau, you lovely witch

Gimme a little charm that’ll make me rich

Gimme a million dollars and I tell you what I’ll do

This very night, I’m gonna marry you

Then it’ll be (scream) another man done gone.”

So Marie done some magic, and she shook a little sand

Made a million dollars and she put it in his hand

Then she giggled and she wiggled, and she said “Hey, Hey

I’m getting’ ready for my weddin’ day.”

But old handsome Jack he said, “Goodbye Marie

You’re too damned ugly for a rich man like me.”

Then Marie started mumblin’, her fangs started gnashin’

Her body started tremblin’ and her eyes started flashin’

And she went (scream) another man done gone.

So if you ever get down where the black trees grow

And meet a voodoo lady named Marie Laveau

If she ever asks you to make her your wife

Man, you better stay with her for the rest of your life

Or it’ll be (scream) another man done gone.

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