The Ballad of
Barnstorm Bessie

Lyrics & Music by E. J. Campfield

(Intro - Talkin’ blues)

Ol’ school-marm tole me once, she say:
“Learnin’ ough-ta be entertainin’,
And entertainin’ ough-ta learn ya somethin’.”
Wanna learn ya a story here ... ‘bout Bessie.


(Lazy country blues)
Little girl from Waxahachie, (WOX-uh-HATCH-ee) Texas,
Climbin’ up in her backyard tree.
She way up high in them tip-top branches,
That’s where little Bessie felt free.
Moma hollered up from the kitchen window
“Child! Come down from there before you fall!”
But Bessie could see all...
of Waxahachie, Texas, up in that tall...
old tree. 

Little girl from Waxahachie, Texas
Gonna learn how to fly, and there cain’t nobody stop her.
Come down from there before you fall...
Come down from there before you fall...

(Up tempo)
Bessie growed up and saved up her nickels
And one day she rode the train up to Chicago town.
She learnt to do nails in a barber shop salon
And that’s where Bessie fell ... in love.
The pilots comin’ home from the Great War ‘gainst the Kaiser
Tried to woo young Bessie while she buffed their nails
With tales...of flyin’...them Nieuports, them Sopwiths and them SPADs.

She don’t do shots of Yeager,
She don’t dance the Lindy,
She don’t vanish like Amelia,
She’s the real deal-ya know...

She wanna learn to fly, but won’t nobody teach
A girl ... from Waxahachie, Texas
So she saved up her nickels and she learnt to talk French,
And one day she sailed away for the City of Lights...
In them cold Paris skies a famous French ace
Took Bessie under wing and he taught her to soar
In them Nieuports, them Sopwiths and them SPADs.

She don’t jet-set like Yeager,
She got spirit like Lindy,
(talkin’) And she sure don’t run outta gas like Amelia ... jeez...
She’s your real deal-ya ...

Bessie saved up her francs and she come back home.
Barnstormed her way from the east coast to the west coast
From sea to shinin’ sea.
That little girl from Waxahachie, Texas
Dreamin’ up in her backyard tree.

(Talkin’ blues)
Bessie Coleman was the first American
to hold a coveted international pilot’s license.
And she was one hell of a daredevil performer.
She winged her way into the hearts of America,
stunt flyin’ in the silent movies and air shows ‘cross the nation.
Any aerobatic thrill Bessie could dream up, she’d just do it.
And it seemed like no one could stop her...

But Bessie never made the kind of money daredevilin’
to buy airplanes that were good as she was.
And that was Bessie’s downfall...


She break them barriers like Yeager,
She lone eagle like Lindy,
Don’t get lost like Amelia,
She’s your real deal-ya gotcher...

(Talkin’ blues)
“Queen Bess” they billed her that fateful tour when her
Curtiss Jenny touched down in Jacksonville, Florida for her big airshow.
Like everything on that tired old bird,
the seat harness was worn out & faulty.
When a wrench shook loose and jambed the control gears,
That ramshackle old Jenny lurched into a merciless spin,
tumblin’ wing ... over wing ... over wing.  
And I s’pose y’all can figure the rest...


Come down from there before you fall...
She slipped the surly bonds of Earth.
Child! Come down from there before you fall...

(Building to)

Now she right up there with Yeager and Lindy and Amelia,
Touchin’ the face of God.
She up there kissin’ on the face of God.
Sweet Bessie...

Little black girl from Waxahachie, Texas
Pickin’ cotton in her daddy’s share cropper field.
She gonna learn how to fly
And there cain’t nobody stop her -- (sudden end)

Copyright ©2008 by E. J. Campfield. All rights reserved.