Rosabelle

Deborah Harry


One of my favorite things about Harry Houdini was how much he hated spiritualness
He busted 'em every chance he got
And he made a promise to the world
If there were a life after death
If people could come back from the dead he, Harry Houdini, would do it
He would come back to his wife Bess and he would call her Rosabelle
Rosabelle was Harry's pet name for Bess
From this song they sang the first time they appeared on stage together

There was a maiden sweet Rosabelle, the fairest of all that I know
All the beauties of heaven and the riches here below cannot compare with this innocent
Angel of home I shall tell
List to the tale of my first love, sweet Rosabelle

Rosie, sweet Rosabelle
I love her more than now I can tell
For me she casts a spell
My charming black-eyed sweet Rosabelle

Most biographies of Harry Houdini will tell you that Harry called Bess Rosabelle
They'll also tell you that it's from a song but that's about all they know
A friend of ours, Theresa, decided to find out what song it was
She went through the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, digging around for days and finally in a box marked 1890's she found a piece of sheet music - Rosabelle
She faxed it to the 'Penn and Teller' office in Las Vegas and Teller and I got all excited
We could use this in a show
We read the first verse - a love song and then we read the second verse

't was on a cold winter's evening
I heard a fate cry at my door
Just a well, just a something that I never heard before
There on the steps lay a baby
My heart at once seemed to swell
I took it in and I named it sweet Rosabelle

Rosie, sweet Rosabelle
I love her more than now I can tell
For me she casts a spell
My charming black-eyed sweet Rosabelle

Ok, so it's not a traditional love song
It's a lovesong to an adopted child
That's okay, that's fine
We could use that, we could use that
Harry called Bess Rosabelle from this song
What does mean that the song had to be interpreted literally
It's just many adults call their lovers baby and the song was popular and they'd sung it together on stage and that's fine and and we looked it over and turned the page
And then we read the third verse
And well, we decided that we just couldn't use it

Often we speak of the incident that cold winter's night long ago when I first loved the baby
I know how it seemed to grow
I loved the child in the littleness
I then loved the woman, as well
She gave her hand, soon I'll marry, sweet Rosabelle

Rosie, sweet Rosabelle
I love her more than now I can tell
For me she casts a spell
My charming black-eyed sweet Rosabelle

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