Ella Speed
By: Mance Lipscomb
Written by: Mance Lipscomb

Live Versions:
  1. Ella Speed
Ella Speed [Live version (a)]:

From November 17 1997 version

Well the first time I shot him, shot him in his side
Second time I ???
But the third time I shot him, shot him dead
That lost shot must've killed poor Ella dead

Well we all heard ?? in the streets ??
Now there's three white horses standing in a line
Gonna take him for his last farewell ride

Ella, before he died, ???
Tell my sisters ???
There's ???
Everyone makes him see

Man, its' hard to ????
That last shot must've killed poor Ella dead
The Song:

Beck has performed this old blues number a few times over the years. He probably performed it a lot before he was famous, as well, and that's one reason why he keeps returning to it. It's a classic song, most famously by both Mance Lipscomb and Leadbelly. Beck's a fan of both, but mentioned before playing it on November 19 1997 that he learned from Lipscomb.

Played live 4 times:
Earliest known live version: January 7, 1995
Latest known live version: November 26, 2000

One time Beck played "Ella Speed" was at his famous "country" show on November 19, 1997. He did it with his full band that night, plus a pedal steel guitarist and a piano player. They performed a lot of acoustic covers like "Light My Fire" and "Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia," and "Ella Speed" was a natural fit.

A short version was played on Augst 22 2000. The second verse was the "white horses" verse, which would re-appear in Beck's "Acoustic Blues" song (which became "Farewell Ride").

On November 26, 2000, at the Petra Haden Benefit Concert, Beck announced, "This is an old ragtime tune." He began with some fine finger-picking, and sang the first verse. He started to add some harmonica, when he stopped suddenly, "You know, this just isn't jumpin'! So I'm going to jump ship." He moved on to another song. The performance sounded quite fine to me (jumpin' even!), though he sort of blurred through the lyrics . . . perhaps he was having trouble remembering them, so he aborted?
original version