The Last Words of Lee Hays

Shortly before he died in 1981, Lee Hays, the poet and writer, and bass voice of The Weavers folk group, composed his own last testament. Here it is:

In Dead Earnest

By Lee Hays

If I should die before I wake,
All my bone and sinew take:
Put them in the compost pile
To decompose a little while.
Sun, rain, and worms will have their way,
Reducing me to common clay.
All that I am will feed the trees
And little fishes in the seas.
When corn and radishes you munch,
You may be having me for lunch.
Then excrete me with a grin,
Chortling, “There goes Lee again!”
Twill be my happiest destiny
To die and live eternally.

Copyright 1981 Lee Hays.

This is likely the only funny story about Lee Hays and his House UnAmerican Activities Committee blacklisting in the early ’50s:  seems there was another ‘Lee Hayes’ in show business at the time and he was blacklisted as well, even though his last name had an ‘e’ in it. (Can’t be too careful when you’re protecting the nation from left-wing folk singers.)  Lee later said this about the blacklist, “If it wasn’t for the honor, I’d just as soon not have been blacklisted.”

And here’s one of The Weavers’ signature tunes, the old Leadbelly staple, “Goodnight, Irene” and that’s Lee Hays doing the intro; he died shortly after this Carnegie Hall concert appearance:

And here’s Leadbelly on the case:

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