The Ballad of Jesse James

If Jesse James is not the most famous Jesse, he is certainly the Jesse played by the most actors. It’s amazing how many actors have portrayed this famous Jesse on film. The outlaw’s own son, Jesse James, Jr. played his father twice in 1921.

Tyrone Power, Roy Rogers, Clayton Moore, Dale Robertson, Audie Murphy, Macdonald Carey, Robert Duvall, Kris Kristofferson, Rob Lowe, Colin Farrell and Brad Pitt also contributed to the Jesse James legend on screen.

This 1925 “Ballad of Jesse of James” (sometimes called That Dirty Little Coward) has all the lyrics to the song about how Jesse Woodson James met his end on April 3, 1882.

This is the chorus:
Poor Jesse had a wife
To mourn for his life
Three children, they were brave
But that dirty little coward
That shot at Mr. Howard
Has laid poor Jesse in his grave.

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