This is a familiar folk song that has been sung by many, including Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary. I heard it once at a party, but it was the sort of party where you could barely make out what was being sung. When I was finally able to track down the lyrics, they turned out to have nothing to do with the longing and regret that I heard in Peter Yarrow's voice -- just a foolish man who made a bad bet. So I wrote the song I thought I heard.

Stewball

Stewball was a racehorse,

  I wish he were mine--

He never drank water,

  He only drank wine.

 

His bridle was silver,

  His mane it was gold,

And the worth of his saddle,

  Has never been told.

 

And I was his jockey,

  Almost 'til the end.

His feet were my fortune,

  And he was my friend.

 

I rode him one Sunday,

  We almost could fly!

But I felt he was ailing,

  I can't tell you why.

 

So I went to his owner.

  I gave it my best,

"Let's take this race easy,

  Or just let him rest."

 

But he told me to shut up,

  "That horse is just tired,"

So I lost my fool temper,

  And he tells me I'm fired.

 

So I couldn't ride Stewball,

  It was out of my hands--

I watched someone else ride him

  And sat in the stands.

 

And way out yonder,

  Ahead of them all,

Came a prancing and a dancing--

  My noble Stewball!

 

And he won that fool horse race,

  Lord, he won it with ease.

Then he stopped and looked dizzy,

  And fell to his knees.

 

I jumped over the railing

  And he twisted his head;

He was lookin' right at me,

  Then Stewball was dead.

 

 

Stewball was a racehorse.

  That was long, long ago.

Whether I could have saved him,

  I really don't know.

 

But if I lose some weight now,

  Like I know that I can,

And I give up this whiskey,

  I'll be a jockey again.

 

'Cause way up yonder,

  There's a place, so I'm told,

Where the jockeys are weightless,

  And the track's paved with gold.

 

There's a neighing like thunder,

  There are hoofbeats like drums--

And a-prancing and a-dancing,

  Like lightning, he comes!

 

 

Stewball was a racehorse,

  I wish he'd been mine--

He never drank water,

  He only drank wine.

 

Now I only drink whiskey,

  And through it I see,

With prancing and dancing,

  He's coming  for  me!