Hazel's Hands

Hazel's Hands

This song is the story of the ballad books of Hazel Bennett; what you need to know about her is in the song. It was my good fortune to meet her daughter, Alice, who shared with me the legacy of her mother's song-catching.

Hazel's Hands
Copyright 1998 Tom Isern
There was a young woman named Hazel Bennett,
Born in a sod house in the Oklahoma Territory,
Grew up in Buffalo, South Dakota.
At the age of 16 she went out as a hired girl.
Whenever a family had a new-born baby,
Hazel would come and keep house for the family.
She listened to the lullabyes that the mothers sang to the new-born babies,
And she wrote them down in her book and in her heart.

Hazel's hands built the fire before the dawn,
Hazel's hands helped the family carry on.
Hazel's hands rocked a baby every night,
Took pen in hand to write.
Won't you think of the valley you're leaving--
Oh how lonely, how dreary it will be.
Just remember the Red River Valley,
And be true to your promise to me.

Oh Dakota Land, sweet Dakota Land,
As on the dug-out roof I stand,
I look away across the plains
And wonder why it never rains.
Til Gabriel doth his trumpet sound,
And he says the rain has gone around.

Now I know there's ponies that I cannot ride,
There's some of them living, they haven't all died.
But I'll bet my money there's no man alive
Who can stay with old Strawberry when he makes his high dive.

Now if I had the wings of an angel,
Over these prison walls I would fly.
I would fly to the arms of my poor darling,
And there I'd be willing to die.