The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Bob Dylan Lyrics

William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gathering
And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him
As they rode him in custody down to the station
And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears
William Zanzinger, who at twenty-four years
Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres
With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him
And high office relations in the politics of Maryland
Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders
And swear words and sneering, and his tongue it was snarling
In a matter of minutes, on bail was out walking
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears

Hattie Carroll was a maid in the kitchen
She was fifty-one years old and gave birth to ten children
Who carried the dishes and took out the garbage
And never sat once at the head of the table
And didn't even talk to the people at the table
Who just cleaned up all the food from the table
And emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level
Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane
That sailed through the air and came down through the room
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle
And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger
And you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin'
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Written by: Bob Dylan

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comment from YouTube:

The Albionist

56 years on and the world still needs to learn from this song.

I love how Dylan refuses to let the listener give into their emotion too early - though tragic, murder happens and the story's not got to its real point yet.... the real tragedy is the final line of the last verse, "a 6 month sentence" - that's when Dylan finally lets you bury your face. That's the moment you know society is hopeless and the listener can only weep and rage.

So little has changed in 56 years.

The worst charge for any of Breonna Taylor's murderers was equivalent to fraud of under $1000.

Bury the rag most deep in your face. Now is the time for your tears.

All comments from YouTube:


the continuous repetition of the word "table" with the same chords gives the feeling of the routine of poor Hattie ... genius. masterpiece.

jay wire

@eterniday read a scholarly but interesting book called "Why Dylan Matters..." -- Sorta assumed this, but Dylan was deep into all kinds of history and cultures and he writes obscure references that only sone people will know -- like Roman history, and bible history -- and of course music history -- He packs his songs with this great stuff with important symbolism that some folks just pass by....To me, this gives me .historical and cultural perspectives . Did he set out to do that? Dunno -- but he knew enough about many things. Great contrast in bringing up Emmett Till....Blonde on Blonde session players recall often waiting in studio ready to play all day but he wasn't "finished" with the Lyrics s yet..... His method paid off. JMHO Thanks

foodtree harvest

I read the same article.

jay wire

thought exactly same thing....seems like a writing trick but you gotta know where and when to do it, huh?

Roddy Segrave

Yes.......its not supposes to be "good English" but it really works. Its really heartfelt this. Good on you Zimmy. Apparently Zanziger tried to or did sue Dylan for this.

Andy Franklin

Lloyd Gittens Nice chiastic phrasing.

5 More Replies...

Frederik Leones

Unfortunately this masterpiece is still relevant today


Will copy the link of this to a Quora discussion about the mishandling of servants for the wealthy in China. In the far and middle east the core message of this rings very urgent...

Ben Allen

@Will Hopkins
I honestly think I feel both.

Michael Christian

I'm here every week

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