O Death

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O Death — also known as O, Death, Oh Death, and Conversations with Death — is a traditional American folk song.

Country blues banjo player Moran Lee "Dock" Boggs (1898-1971) recorded the song in the late 1920s.[1] A recording from the 1938 National Folk Festival held in Washington, D.C. is on file with the Library of Congress.[2] Various folk music artists included Oh, Death on a variety of musical collections throughout the 1970s and '80s.[3]

Indiana University Press' The Journal of Folklore Research features articles in an 2004 issue asserting that "O, Death" is Lloyd Chandler's song "A Conversation with Death", which he performed for several years while preaching in Appalachia.[4][5]


O, Death
O, Death
Won't you spare me over till another year
Well what is this that I can't see
With ice cold hands takin' hold of me
Well I am Death, none can excel
I'll open the door to Heaven or Hell
Whoa, Death someone would pray
Could you wait to call me another day
The children prayed, the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I'll fix your feet til you can't walk
I'll lock your jaw til you can't talk
I'll close your eyes so you can't see
This very hour, come and go with me
I'm Death I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold
To draw up the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim
O, Death
O, Death
Won't you spare me over til another year
My mother came to my bed
Placed a cold towel upon my head
My head is warm my feet are cold
Death is a-movin' upon my soul
Oh, Death how you're treatin' me
You've close my eyes so I can't see
Well you're hurtin' my body
You make me cold
You run my life right outta my soul
Oh Death please consider my age
Please don't take me at this stage
My wealth is all at your command
If you will move your icy hand
The old, the young, the rich or poor
All alike to me you know
No wealth, no land, no silver no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul
O, Death
O, Death
Won't you spare me over til another year
Won't you spare me over til another year
Won't you spare me over til another year

Covers and other uses[edit]

O, Death has been performed by many artists in recent times, including:


Ralph Stanley version[edit]

Stanley's version of the song won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 2002.

Preceded by
Solitary Man
by Johnny Cash
Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Succeeded by
Give My Love to Rose
by Johnny Cash

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Wichita Eagle - Song 'Oh, Death' dates back to the late 1920s and was also recorded by Bessie Jones & Georgia Sea Island Singers for the Library of Congress.". 
  2. ^ http://www.loc.gov/item/afc9999005.3281
  3. ^ Wichita Eagle, Op. cit.
  4. ^ Smith, Hazel (April 25, 2005). "HOT DISH: The Preacher and the Song". CMT.com. Country Music Television. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  5. ^ Lindahl, Carl (May–August 2004). "Thrills and Miracles: Legends of Lloyd Chandler". Journal of Folklore Research (Indiana University Press) 41: 133–171. doi:10.2979/JFR.2004.41.2-3.133. ISSN 0737-7037. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  6. ^ Wichita Eagle, Op. cit.