The Ballad of Bishop Murray

Songs of a sourpuss

I just thought I should write something silly, so here’s …


The Ballad of Bishop Murray

Out here in the West, where a man does his best

To survive in the rain and the snow,

It’s always been told that you’ll never strike gold

If you don’t know the places to go.

Now the Last Chance Saloon’s always full before noon

And the whiskey runs free as a river.

Never let it be said that a man went to bed

Without tryin’ to pickle his liver.

When the sun starts to fade and and the tables are laid

And the gals with their beaux come along,

The old piano-man stands and starts wavin’ his hands,

He says, “Boys let me talk you a song”,

And we shudder in fear at the story we hear,

It’s a tale of deceivin’ and lies,

How a man came to town in a cape and a gown

With a dangerous glint in his eyes.

The storm was a-howlin’, old-timers were scowlin’.

Such weather they never did see.

And the hailstones were tappin’ like Satan was snappin’

His knuckles and laughin’ with glee.

Then one-eyed old Nell rang the grubbin’ up bell

But the diners went all of a scurry

When in from the dark came a man with a mark –

The hombre they call Bishop Murray.


Out here in the West there are names that are best

Never spoken out loud or in song

And the Bishop is one you don’t talk of in fun

If you plan to be livin’ for long.

Now they told in times past of a gun-hand so fast

It could out-strike a rattler snake.

He won many a bet, and fifty men met

Their demise in a mustang-tail’s shake.

Some people would joke when he came to be spoke

Of as Bishop but yet it felt right.

He was raw, he was mean, he was vicious and lean,

He could stand like a dog in a fight.

He could quote Holy Verse, but in whiskey he’d curse

Like a sailor out paintin’ the town,

He could doctor a sheep, and put children to sleep

He could argue a duck from its down.

And though nobody knew where he came from, it’s true,

They could all see a man who was clever

And they knew by the grip of the gun on his hip

That the time to resist him was never.

Now there stood at the bar a man with a scar

All darkened and hidden in shade.

His red hat was pulled down, it was bent at the crown.

On his belt hung the tools of his trade.

“Two fingers of rye”,  said the Bishop, “I’ll buy

You a whiskey, now pilgrim sit down.

For I’m anxious to know how a stranger might blow

Like a tumbleweed into my town”.

The stranger stood back and unfolded his pack

And he spread it all out on the table.

“There’s a deputy’s star, a bible, a jar

of gold dust, and a bill from the stable.

“You skedaddled that night and you left me to fight

Do you recognise these for your own?”

Then he threw off his hat, “You despicable rat,

Make your play, for your cover is blown.”

Well the Bishop was fast and the crowd was aghast.

His hand flew so quick it was blurry,

But the stranger was quicker, his action was slicker,

And he outdrew the dread Bishop Murray.

“I’ll give you one final chance”, said the stranger, askance,

“Though you made us look bad. I should kill.

By my grace you’re alive,  and this Colt forty-five

Is what stands between you and Boot Hill.”

Then he turned his back and he shouldered his pack

And he pushed through the crowd for the door.

“Dermot Martin’s the name, trouble-shootin’s my game.

So get gone.  I’ll be back here at four”.

Never known for a fool, Bishop Murray stayed cool,

This wasn’t the time to draw down

On a stranger with eyes that could see through the lies

Of a man in a cape and a gown.

When the stranger rode out there was no-one to shout,

For they’d all seen the Bishop outdrawn.

His name fell to dust.  It was gone in a gust

Like the smoke from a pistol at dawn.

Well he stood there a while, then he cracked half a smile

And he dropped a gold pouch at his feet.

He said, “This is my lot.  All the killers I shot

Are standin’ out there in the street.

“So it’s whiskey all round, I’ll be eastern-bound

To account for my bad-livin’ habits.”

Then the piano was plinkin’ as the crowd set to drinkin’

And dancin’ like crazy jackrabbits.

Any man who was there would be willin’ to swear

That the Bishop was startin’ to pray.

And the piano man knew of the shadows that flew

Through the window and took him away.


Now nobody talks of the creatures that stalked

On the boardwalk. It isn’t a worry.

There was only one man that they had in their plan.

The hombre they called Bishop Murray.

25 thoughts on “The Ballad of Bishop Murray

  1. Nice one Bock . Did someone mention a Christmas # 1 .

    Donal is looking for guidance from his flock as to what he should do.

    Tell him @

    Look, there’s no point beating about the bush here.

    There is now, and has been for a long time, something fundamentally wrong
    with our church. The recent revelations are symptomatic of a moral malaise
    running through the institution.

    Donal Murray, at this point resign. For my children’s sake, resign. And
    I’m not saying that because I think that they are in danger now from either
    you, or your priests. No, I say this because I want the delusion of a
    credible church to finish, and be gone now.

    You have done too much damage. I don’t associate you with anything holy or
    sacred because you have associated yourself with something horrible and

    Do not engage in a words exercise or any mental reservations.

    Go now.

  2. I’m a victim you see, a victim of a successful conditioning leading me to believe there is only one true church ! Don’t take my victimhood away from me.

    Or maybe it was a royal “our” – Donal inspires the monarchy in me.

  3. Old men sleep with their conscience at night
    young kid sleeps with his dreams
    while the mentally ill sit perfectly still
    and live their lives in between…
    Nuff said.

  4. I think “The Ballad of Billie The Kid” from Billy Joel could work …

    By the way: Great stuff, Bock!

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