Doc Holliday Lyrics and Authors Notes

The more reckless I face death,
the more lucky I become;
there is something wrong-headed
in this kind of luck – it’s just dumb –
as if the only time you’ll die
is when death’s not playing with you,
and your luck runs dry . . .
it runs completely dry.

Diagnosed with tuberculosis,
and given just six short months to live;
I heard the news, then needed to throw this
damn fate in the creek – more than I can give.

Went to Arizona where air is a dry thing,
a dentist gunslinger carrying a lie,
the untruth being I wanted to lose at anything
as long as bed was not a place to die.

The more reckless I face death,
the more lucky I become;
there is something wrong-headed
in this kind of luck – it’s just dumb –
as if the only time you’ll die
is when death’s not playing with you,
and your luck runs dry . . .
it runs completely dry.

The best thing about playing poker is the chance
to pick a fight, a chance to accuse
someone of cheating, and take the stance
that guns are the only proper way to choose.

Who knew I’d be so damn good at the draw?
Every fight I’d hope would be my last,
a quick death, but like a constant gnaw,
I would win, and the opportunity passed.

Thirty-odd gunfights, who ever figured
Lord, I’d win them all? I’d look at the dust,
wanting to see myself disfigured,
but here I stood, here I stood instead.

Life is a lust your body wants to play out,
even while your mind it shouts out
to pull the gun more slowly,
as if a sinner can now be holy.

Fourteen years after my move
that old TB finally got me;
and dying in bed should only prove
there’s just no damn symmetry
in trying to avoid what Fate planned,
for my death was certainly classic;
I switched course in my final stand.

I got baptized in that hard, dying bed,
for my death was certainly classic;
I went out a Catholic.

The more reckless I face death,
the more lucky I become;
there is something wrong-headed
in this kind of luck – it’s just dumb –
as if the only time you’ll die
is when death’s not playing with you,
and your luck runs dry . . .
it runs completely dry.

Artist’s note:
John Henry Holliday (1851-1887), known throughout the West as Doc Holliday ,was born in Georgia and educated as a dentist in Pennsylvania. Diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1873 and given only a half-year to live, he moved west, hoping to extend his life a few months in the dry climate. Already condemned to a slow, painful death, Holliday knew no fear in dangerous situations, and his fame grew; he teamed up with the Earp brothers during the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and many historians place the amount of men he killed in the 30s. The only fellow Georgian Holliday continued to contact after he went west was his cousin, Mattie Holliday. Shortly after Doc contracted tuberculosis and left Georgia, Mattie too left their childhood world to become a Sister of Charity, entering an Atlanta convent. No correspondence between the two has survived, but it’s safe to say she had a profound impact on Doc, in that even though he had been raised a Presbyterian, it was revealed after his death at Glenwood Springs, Colorado, that he had recently been baptized in the Catholic faith.

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