Ol' Mista Riley


Listen HERE. Adding to our growing body of place-based music celebrating Indy, this week, Ray Wyatt pays tribute to the "Hoosier Poet," James Whitcomb Riley with Ol' Mista Riley.


Verse 1: Ol' Mista Riley wuz born an' raised In this 'ere state where he's highly praised. Ol' Mista Riley loved t' write and read. He wrote the Hoosier dialect poetry. He could make you laugh. He could make you cry. He could make you feel cold in the heart of July. 'Cause he wrote fer the people an' his fellow man, Which he never saw himself any greater than.

Verse 2: Ol' Mista Riley when he wuz young, Had many odd jobs t' which he never clung. Ol' Mista Riley wuz hired on T' edit the paper down in Anderson. He made his way t' the state Capitol. He worked fer the Indianapolis Journal. His name began t' spread as he went on tour Where he would recite fer the rich an' the poor.

Verse 3: Ol' Mista Riley wuz never wed. He never had a child he could tuck in bed. Ol' Mista Riley, he loved the kids. He cared fer 'em as ef they were his. Now there is a hospital in his name Where his love fer the children 's felt all the same. He's known fer his stories and poetry, But I think he'd want this t' be his legacy.

Verse 4: Ol' Mista Riley would travel 'round, But he had a home when he came t' town. Ol' Mista Riley lived on Lockerbie Fer twenty-three years with two families. He even wrote a poem called "Lockerbie Street" Where he's more than content; he seems complete. Ef you want t' learn more than go an' see The house that hosted James Whitcomb Riley.