Swamp Witch ~ Jim Stafford

Jim Stafford is an American comedian, musician, and singer-songwriter, prominent in the 1970s. Stafford is self-taught on guitar, fiddle, piano, banjo, organ and harmonica.

Stafford was raised in Winter Haven, Florida. In high school, he played in a band along with friends Bobby Braddock, Kent LaVoie (aka Lobo (musician)) and Gram Parsons (of the Byrds).

In 1967 and 1968, Stafford performed regularly and served as head writer/producer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

The Jim Stafford Show appeared on ABC in 1975. He appeared as well numerous times on music specials, variety shows, and talk shows. He was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show. He co-hosted Those Amazing Animals with Burgess Meredith and Priscilla Presley, and also hosted 56 episodes of Nashville on the Road.

In 1976, Stafford guest starred in 2 episodes of the TV show Gemini Man, which were later combined into a television movie titled “Riding with Death”.

In the late 1970s, Stafford was married briefly to singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry and they have a son, Tyler. Stafford and his present wife/business partner Ann have two children, and live outside of Branson, on Table Rock Lake.

According to a Summer 2011 article in the Winter Haven News Chief paper, he has purchased a home in his home town of Winter Haven, Florida.

Swamp Witch

“Swamp Witch” was Jim Stafford’s first chart hit, produced by Lobo in 1973

Black water Hattie lived back in the swamp
Where the strange green reptiles crawl
Snakes hang thick from the cypress trees
Like sausage on a smokehouse wall

Where the swamp is alive with a thousand eyes
An’ all of them watching you
Stay off the track to Hattie’s shack
In the back of the Black Bayou

Way up the road from Hattie’s shack
Lies a sleepy little Okeechobee town
Talk of swamp witch Hattie
Lock you in when the sun go down

Rumors of what she’d done
Rumors of what she’d do
Kept folks off the track of Hattie’s shack
In the back of the Black Bayou

One day brought the rain and the rain stayed on
And the swamp water overflowed
Skeeters and the fever grabbed the town like a fist
Doctor Jackson was the first to go

Some say the plague was brought by Hattie
There was talk of a hangin’ too
But the talk got shackled by the howls and the cackles
From the bowels of the Black bayou

Early one morning’ ‘tween dark and dawn when shadows filled the sky
There came an unseen caller on a town where road run dry
You’d swear there was found a big black round vat full of gurgling brew
Whispering sounds as the folk gathered round
“It came from the Black Bayou”

There ain’t much pride when you’re trapped inside
A slowly sinking’ ship
Scooped up the liquid deep and green
And the whole town took a sip

Fever went away and the very next day
The skies again were blue
Let’s thank old Hattie for savin’ our town
We’ll fetch her from the Black Bayou

Party of ten of the town’s best men
Headed for Hattie’s shack
Said, “Swamp Witch magic was useful and good
And they’re gonna bring Hattie back”

Never found Hattie and they never found the shack
Never made the trip back in
There was a parchment note they found tacked to a stump
Said, “Don’t come lookin’ again”

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  • Audio from the 1974 album, Jim Stafford:

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 Purchase-Music Swamp Witch  $0.99

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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