Conflate version based on the tune sung by Edward L. Crane
I am a reckless highwayman, Cole Younger is my name.
[My] deeds of desperation have brought my [name] to shame.
The robbing of the Northfield Bank I never can deny,
For which I am a poor prisoner, now in the Stillwater jail I lie.
Of all my bold robberies a story I will tell
Of a California miner, upon him I fell.
I robbed him of his money, boys, and made my getaway,
For which I will be sorry of until my dying day.
“It’s now we’ve got fast horses,” as brother Bob did say,
“It’s now we’ve got fast horses to make our getaway.
We’ll ride to seek our father’s revenge and we will win the prize.
We’ll fight those anti-guerrilla boys until the day we die.”
We started out for Texas, that good old Lone Star state,
On Nebraska’s burning prairies the James Boys we did meet.
With knives and guns and pistols we all sat down to play,
A-drinking of good whiskey, boys, to pass the time away.
[A Union Pacific railroad train was the next we did surprise,
And the crimes done by our bloody hands bring tears unto my eyes.]
[The engineer and fireman killed, conductor escaped alive,
And now their bones lie moldering beneath Nebraska’s skies.]
We saddled up our horses and northward we did go
To the godforsaken country called Minneso-ti-o.
We went to rob the Northfield bank and brother Bob did say,
“Cole, if we undertake this job we’ll always rue the day.”
We stationed out our pickets and into town did go.
There upon the counter we struck our fatal blow.
“It’s hand us o’er your money, boys, and that without delay.,
We are the notorious Youngers and we have no time to play.”
[The cashier, being brave and bold, denied our noted band.
Jesse James fired the shot that killed that noble man.]
We got [up] on our horses and we rode out of town.
The lawmen [they] pursued us and Jim [he] was shot down.
Three of the brave companions made it home alive,
Three of the brave companions sleep ‘neath Minnesota skies.
[And now in Stillwater jail I lie, a-wearing my life away;
Two James Boys left to tell the tale of that sad and fateful day.]