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Frank and Jesse James

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"Frank and Jesse James" is the beginning track from Warren Zevon's 1976 album, Warren Zevon.

It was written by Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne.

About the Song Edit

The song describes the lives of two brothers from a small town in Missouri named Frank and Jesse James. It describes them learning horseback riding and marksmanship, before ending up fighting on the losing side of the American Civil War. Not having been granted amnesty they rode away as outlaws, riding against the government until they are betrayed by the gunmen Robert Ford. The song ends with the thought that the poor Missouri farmers were the only really ones who understood them. The song is odd for in the middle it seems to fade out before coming back again.

Zevon stated in a 1981 Rolling Stone article that the song was written "for and about Don and Phil Everly" with whom he was touring at the time.

Lyrics Edit

Note: the text of this song's lyrics is not under the same copyright license as the wiki's encyclopedic text, it is used under fair use/dealing.

On a small Missouri farm

Back when the west was young

Two boys learned to rope and ride

And be handy with a gun


War broke out between the states

And they joined up with Quantrill

And it was over in Clay county

That Frank and Jesse finally learned to kill


Keep on riding, riding, riding

Frank and Jesse James

Keep on riding, riding, riding

'Til you clear your names

Keep on riding, riding, riding

Across the rivers and the range

Keep on riding, riding, riding Frank and Jesse James


After Appomattox they were on the loosing side

So no amnesty was granted

And as outlaws they did ride

They rode against the railroads,

And they rode against the banks

And they rode against the governor

Never did they ask for a word of thanks


Keep on riding, riding, riding

Frank and Jesse James

Keep on riding, riding, riding

'Til you clear your names

Keep on riding, riding, riding

Across the prairies and the plains

Keep on riding, riding, riding

Frank and Jesse James


Robert Ford, a gunman

Did exchange for his parole

Took the life of James the outlaw

Which he snuck up on and stole

No one knows just where they came to be misunderstood But the poor Missouri farmers knew

Frank and Jesse do the best they could


Keep on riding, riding, riding

Frank and Jesse James

Keep on riding, riding, riding

'Til you clear your names

Keep on riding, riding, riding

Across the rivers and the range

Keep on riding, riding, riding

Frank and Jesse James

See Also Edit

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