Keno, The Rent Man

Song composer(s)


Grateful Dead Recordings

Not recorded by the Dead

Dead Related Recordings

No Dead related recordings entered

Other Recordings

Keno, The Rent Man
New Lost City Ramblers, Vol. 4 : New Lost City Ramblers (1962)
Goin' Up Town. Old Time String Bands, Vol. 2 : Cofer Brothers (198?)

Riley, The Furniture Man
Giddyap Napoleon : Double Decker String Band (1980)
Poor Man, Rich Man: American Country Songs Of Protest : Georgia Crackers (198?)

Performance History

Played by Jerry and Sarah Garcia at the Tangent in Palo Alto in May 1963.

Not performed by the Grateful Dead. Occurs only on pre-Dead tapes featuring future members of the dead.


Possibly the same song as Riley, The Furniture Man. In the early decades of the century the furniture man or rent man was the equivalent of the bailiff or repo man of today.

The lyrics used in the version performed by Jerry & Sarah Garcia are as follows;

Keno, the rent man,
    mean as he can be
Tossed my bed out in the street,
    then he threw (out?) me
Keno, mean as he can be.

Threw my trunk out in the yard,
    kicked off the (end of my nose?)
Hit me in the head with a washboard,
    tore out the back of my clothes
Keno, mean as he can be.

Went to run and he tripped me,
    stepped on the back of my head
Jammed me down in a mudhole,
    'til he thought that I was dead
Keno, mean as he can be.

Makes no difference to (?) man,
    whether it's (?) (snow?)
If you don't pay that rent man,
    he'll throw you out the door
Keno, mean as he can be.

Now if you are a renter,
    take heed to what I say
If you don't pay that rent man,
    better make your getaway
Keno, mean as he can be.