“Black Jack Davey” is orginally an English folk song also known as “The Gypsy Laddie” and “The Raggle Taggle Gypsies” among other titles. Originating in Scotland in the 1700s the ballad has transformed and migrated through England and the United States over the centuries. The song has many versions but in this one made most famous by Bob Dylan, the story is a bit different than that of “The Gypsy Laddie”. The story finds a gypsy successfully luring away a bride from her husband and the chase that ensues when the he finds out. He rides his fastest horse and catches up with his runaway bride by a river bend to ask “Would you forsake your house and home?/Would you forsake your baby?/Would you forsake your husband, too/To go with Black Jack Davey?” In the end she turns him down for preference of the cold ground and the thrill of life on the run to her wealth and riches back home.
The White Stripes cover of this song takes an engaging approach by utilizing a growing drumbeat and catchy riff similar to the gallop of a horse that puts the listener into “the chase”. A true “driving song”, its potential can be maximized at loud volumes on the highway.
By: James Sobie