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Let's talk about murder ballads.

Kim C 24 Apr 07 - 05:46 PM
Deckman 24 Apr 07 - 06:30 PM
Susan of DT 24 Apr 07 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,Jim 24 Apr 07 - 07:19 PM
GUEST,Q 24 Apr 07 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,Jim P 24 Apr 07 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,petr 24 Apr 07 - 08:19 PM
Susan of DT 24 Apr 07 - 08:30 PM
Wilfried Schaum 25 Apr 07 - 03:14 AM
masato sakurai 25 Apr 07 - 05:00 AM
pirandello 25 Apr 07 - 06:57 AM
Kim C 25 Apr 07 - 10:10 AM
Vixen 25 Apr 07 - 10:41 AM
Kim C 25 Apr 07 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,HiLo 25 Apr 07 - 12:26 PM
The Unicorn Man 25 Apr 07 - 12:58 PM
Kim C 25 Apr 07 - 02:14 PM
GUEST,Diva 25 Apr 07 - 02:34 PM
Deckman 25 Apr 07 - 02:51 PM
Kim C 25 Apr 07 - 03:41 PM
Phil Cooper 25 Apr 07 - 04:15 PM
masato sakurai 25 Apr 07 - 07:44 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Apr 07 - 08:24 PM
Kim C 25 Apr 07 - 10:23 PM
Deckman 25 Apr 07 - 10:24 PM
GUEST,GUEST, Len B, Downey, CA 26 Apr 07 - 01:12 AM
GUEST 26 Apr 07 - 02:38 AM
Kim C 26 Apr 07 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Lyle 26 Apr 07 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,forestabri 26 Apr 07 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,JimP 26 Apr 07 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 26 Apr 07 - 10:04 PM
GUEST 27 Apr 07 - 10:29 AM
GUEST,JimP 27 Apr 07 - 12:34 PM
Kim C 29 Apr 07 - 10:09 AM
Deckman 29 Apr 07 - 10:35 AM
Kim C 30 Apr 07 - 09:47 AM
Grab 30 Apr 07 - 01:29 PM
Goose Gander 30 Apr 07 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,JimP 30 Apr 07 - 02:22 PM
Deckman 30 Apr 07 - 08:15 PM
GUEST,cliff 30 Apr 07 - 10:41 PM
dj bass 01 May 07 - 11:55 AM
Kim C 01 May 07 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,cliff 01 May 07 - 02:17 PM
Mickey191 02 May 07 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,cliff 04 May 07 - 08:25 AM
Morris-ey 04 May 07 - 09:33 AM
Flash Company 04 May 07 - 09:38 AM
Kim C 04 May 07 - 10:19 AM
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Subject: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 05:46 PM

Next semester, I'll be starting research on my Master's thesis, which is going to be about murder ballads, including their history, and my experiences singing them for a modern audience.

This is where I'd value your input. I'm thinking of putting together a short survey, either sometime this summer or in the fall, just to ask other performers & music people about their experiences with murder ballads. If any of you are interested, please send me a PM.

Many, many thanks. :-)


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 06:30 PM

Kim, I sent you a PM. Bob


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Susan of DT
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 06:31 PM

Laws categorized broadsides/ballads. His category F are murder ballads, with 37 songs. So if you search the digital tradition for "Laws F1" you will bet at least one version of the song. Continue to "Laws F37"


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 07:19 PM

Hi Kim C,
   What is a PM? Would you like audience reaction? I have had some negative reaction I'd like to share with you.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 07:26 PM

A PM is a message left on the personal page. It's a members only thing, so you must join Mudcat.
(it will take you not much more than five minutes)


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,Jim P
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 08:00 PM

There was a local (SF Bay Area) college station that had a folk program many years ago. On what I believe was the student host's last broadcast, he prepared an extensive (I think three hour) broadcast exclusively devoted to murder ballads. I obtained tapes, and have listened to them often.

HOWEVER, I've lost one of the tapes. Does this sound familiar to anyone here? I'd dearly love to replace the portion of the broadcast that I'm missing.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 08:19 PM

you might want to look into those Mexican gangster ballads
which are highly popular - Narco corridos
I think there have been attempts to ban them.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Susan of DT
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 08:30 PM

There are also loads of murders in the Child ballads, mostly of family members or lovers. I can give you a list, if you like.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 03:14 AM

A fine German murder ballad is Apfelböck oder die Lilien auf dem Felde by Bertolt Brecht.

Char code: Western.ISO-8859-1


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 05:00 AM

There are some related threads:

DTStudy Murder Ballads with bloody noses

contemporary murder ballads

Tune Req: Murder Ballads or Songs?

Lyr Req: appalachian murder ballads


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: pirandello
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 06:57 AM

I've seen more than a few ballads murdered!


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:10 AM

Thanks y'all. I don't officially start research till the fall but since I'm not taking any classes over the summer I want to try to get a head start. I appreciate all your suggestions.

I lucked into a whole set of the Child Ballads reprints, so I'll definitely be poring over those! :-)


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Vixen
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:41 AM

Neat idea for a research project...

Are you looking at ballads of American origin? or from the entire English-language repertoire? Or a pan-linguistic study? I guess that's an indirect way of asking "What field of study is the thesis for?"

For a contemporary American murder ballad check out Dave Carter's and Tracy Grammer's "Cat-Eye Willie Comes to Claim his Lover".

Now you've got me thinking about how to classify murder ballads--by where they take place (on the mountain, on the banks of the Ohio), by victim (wife, lover, sister), by perpetrator (why does Lord Arlen spring to mind?), by method (knife, strangulation, gunshot), by motive (wronged lover, mistaken identity, revenge)...

what fun!!!

V


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 11:02 AM

Vixen, I'm probably going to concentrate mostly on English-language ballads, but would like to include a few from other traditions as a point of comparison to illustrate the popularity of these kinds of songs.

It's for a Master's in literature. :-)


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 12:26 PM

Hi; I would say your topic is far too broad. Also,research implies a question. Perhaps you should pare things down to the doable by asking a question you would like to answer, such as "How often are the ballads based on truth. Ot "what perventage of the victims are women"..etc.
One of the commonest mistakes made by students doing research is to choose a topic that is huge. Listen to loads of ballads, look for common themes or areas that interest you, then research that aspect. I think you will find the job more manageable that way. Anyway, just a suggestion based on much experience doing research.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 12:58 PM

When I was young (ger) I used to feel sorry for poor old John Barleycorn. There were so many stories about him dieing, being killed by planing gangs, but now I am older and wiser I can understand why he had to die. And may it long continue.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 02:14 PM

Thanks HiLo ---- it's really not as broad as it seems. It's going to be a combination of scholarly and creative writing. The preliminary question is, what is it about murder ballads that makes them so compelling?

Of course, that may turn into something else once I start working on it. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,Diva
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 02:34 PM

Wonderful topic for a thesis,get youself a copy of Hodgart and you can't go wrong


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Deckman
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 02:51 PM

Kim ... You asked "what is so compelling about these songs?" Why, it's simply that these songs are to die for! (O.K. I'll get my coat and sneak out the backdoor ... again)! Bob


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 03:41 PM

Bob, I'll be sure to quote you on that one. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 04:15 PM

I think because of the "life and death" setting of these songs, that other themes are brought out in a more dramatic way. You could claim that the ballad Earl O'Bran deals with the issue that a woman leaves her family to follow her lover. That's something you could say ordinarily happens when someone decides to get married. However in the ballad, fair Margaret runs off (elopes perhaps) with Lord William. She stands and watches while he kills her seven brothers, and only objects when he kills her father. But ultimately goes off with him. Of course she dies that night, too. A sort of ketchup crucifix version.

In the song Omie Wise, the coldness of John Lewis hugging and kissing Omie, to set her mind at ease, and then pushing her in the river really hits home the point that one should be more careful of one's companions.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 07:44 PM

Search for: "murder" at The Traditional Ballad Index, and you'll find "425 documents."


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 08:24 PM

Kim - please post your PM to the threads - not all folk song people are "Mudcat Members."

Tradition? British? American?

Jessie James?
Billy the Kid?
Lizzie Bordon?
Son My Massacre?
Sadam Hussain?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

proudly a GUEST at the foot of the table.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:23 PM

Gargoyle, do you mean my e-mail address?


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Deckman
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:24 PM

Kim ... I'm PMing you now. Bob


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,GUEST, Len B, Downey, CA
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 01:12 AM

If you can find it, a very useful source would be "American Murder Ballads and Their Stories", by Olive Woolley Burt (Oxford University Press, NY, 1958), Library of Congress Catalog No. 58-5382.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 02:38 AM

I once heard A L Lloyd introduce the 'goodnight' ballad (gallows valediction) 'The Robber', a.k.a. as 'Tedburn Hill', as follows:
Goodnight ballads were written by hack ballad-makers and sold at public hangings, sometimes with part of the proceedings going to the hanged man's family. They were called 'Goodnight ballads' in reference to the practice of the onlookers at the hanging calling 'goodnight' as the rope went taut around the hanged man's neck.
The explanation was said to come from Daniel Defoe, though I have never been able to find the reference.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 11:18 AM

Guest Len --- I have that book! I had to search far and wide to find it, though. :-)

Another one my professor recommended, that is a little easier to get, is "Poor Pearl, Poor Girl," about the late 19th century murder of Pearl Bryan. There's a bit about her in Wooley's book as well.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,Lyle
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 05:08 PM

GUEST Jim P:

The name of the program was "Steve Gardners Topsoil" broadcast May 12 1996 from 4-6 pm and later sent out to anyone who requested it on two tapes.

Kim C:

The comments on the above tapes were generally very good, and as near as possible, the songs were sung by the people who were around at the time of the murder.

I have the introductions by Steve Gardner and the titles of the songs as well as the singers if they would be a help to you. Or if you want, I can copy it to this forum although it is a bit long.

Lyle


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,forestabri
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 05:39 PM

"Down in the Willow Garden" and "Two Sisters" are two that are also very nice tunes. I was in an old-time and folk group and we found this to be a common subject. Many seem to warnings to young girls about pre-marital sex. "Two Sisters" is about jealousy. A sister gets a ring from a man they both love, so her sister pushes her in the river. A miller finds the corpse and makes a fiddle from her bones and a bow from her hair. And the only song that fiddle would play was "Oh the Wind and Rain". Amazing song.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,JimP
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 06:57 PM

Lyle:

That's it exactly. Gardner used to have a page up with the text of his comments, but a quick google fails to turn it up. I recall that the commentary was very good, and if you have the text it would probably be a useful addition to this thread (not to mention a nifty way to archive it somewhere those with an interest would be likely to find it).


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 10:04 PM

DUH????

Translate into American - we do not seem to be connecting - from your dialect (but then again most masters are one step above B.S.

If any of you are interested, please send me a PM.

What IS a PM?

I got it now - this is a survey intended for only those owner's of BLACKBERRY - if their system is opperating (good way to limit responces and ignore those annoying statistical problems that has no place in refinery lit.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Please DO NOT post your e-mail - and in particular the factory that will churn out another MS....to the pyle.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Apr 07 - 10:29 AM

GUEST JimP:

I'm a little hesitant to post the narrative written by Steve Gardner for a couple reasons: (1) I don't have his permission, and (2) because this forum has turned into a situation where "no good deed goes without an asinine reply." Evidence of the latter is the post of 26 Apr 07 - 10:04 PM. That's why I am no longer a member, although I started with this long before it became Mudcat.

Maybe if someone like Max or Joe Offer or Dick G would like me to send the narrative to them, and have them OK it first it could be made available to everyone.

Lyle - (returning to read-not-write mode)


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,JimP
Date: 27 Apr 07 - 12:34 PM

Lyle:

Fair enough. Come to think of it, though, I'm kind of surprised that Steve Gardner isn't a mudcat member. Surely there are people here that know him and could get him to post the text himself.


Anybody?


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 29 Apr 07 - 10:09 AM

Gargoyle,

Please stay off my thread as this was intended as a sincere request for participation in a scholarly study that means a great deal to me. If you have something of worth to contribute, great. If all you're going to do is snipe, then go do it somewhere else, please and thank you. In the meantime, I wish all the blessings of the earth and sky upon you.

Oh, and by the way, I have a BA, not a BS.

Sincerely,

Kim


Now. Where were we? I'll see what I can dig up on Steve Gardner -- thanks for the tip.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Deckman
Date: 29 Apr 07 - 10:35 AM

I also recommend the book "American Murder Ballads" by Olive Wooley Burt, The Citadel Press, 1964. It's worth searching for. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 09:47 AM

Blessings be upon you, Guest Many Dots. :-)

Thanks to all of you (guests and members) for your suggestions.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Grab
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 01:29 PM

Sometime I'd like to see a compare-and-contrast of murder ballads against "splatter" movies like Saw (I/II) or any other serial-killer things. Whenever people say how violent and depraved modern culture is, think of "Waily Weila", "Pretty Polly" or "Sheath and knife" and laugh.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 01:53 PM

Some possible differences between splatter movies and murder ballads: murder ballads generally served a moral purpose - not gore for gore's sake, but instruction and warning; often they were based upon actual events, so they had a journalistic function as well.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,JimP
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 02:22 PM

Agreed; murder ballads often were based on historical events (Tom Dooley & Omi Wise just off the top of my head) and nearly always functioned as a warning. As for gore, I don't recall many (any?) that revel in the act itself. Mostly there's the pleading for mercy and remorse afterward.

Interesting side-note: can anyone explain why the explicit incest often found in the British versions often disappears in the American versions? Is it simple puritanism, or is there any other explaination?

Guest with no name:

Ballad = Tells a story; no British national origen necessary

Murder = Someone is unlawfully killed; don't know if there are any "fragging" murder ballads, but that would qualify in my book

Composer = "not trad and rejected" Not sure what you mean by that. See the numerous threads on "what is folk" if you really want to debate this type of issue, but as for a Murder Ballad, I think several of them either have known or purported authors. Billy Gashade, for example.

Guest = "not know out of club" Again, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Its just how the software lets non-members leave comments. Most discussion boards make you join in order to comment, so quit being snarky and either join or quit whinging about it.

Mudcat Member = "authority on everything" Hardly. Of course, bomb throwing behind an anonomous "Guest" sig is easier than making reasoned, polite comments, isn't it?

P.M. = "an unknown secret" OK, now you're just being a prick. This has been answered a couple of times in this very thread, by persons with more patience than me. As if "Private Message" weren't an internet convention that anyone could figure out in about two seconds. Back under the bridge, you!


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 08:15 PM

One of the more interesting aspects of murder ballads, at least "American " murder ballads I'm aquainted with, is the occasional expressions of remorse, or pity, or just FEELINGS. Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,cliff
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 10:41 PM

Check out "Jellon Graeme (Child 90)" as done by Peggy Seeger. That'll set you teeth on edge. Also, "The Brown and the Yellow Ale" (The Voice Squad). I'd also suggest looking at the Child texts and alternate titles/versions (as in Bronson) and googling those. Look also at "The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection" and "Ozark Folk Songs" (Randolph/Missouri) which have these kinds of songs somewhat categorized. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: dj bass
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:55 AM

Two Sisters tune and its "rain and the Wind" refrain were nicked (sorry - adapted) by Bob Dylan for "Percy's Song".

"All my Friends are Gone" (by Rev Gary Davis) is based on a true story of Delia Green, murdered in Savannah in 1899. This may not be old enough, but if you Google "Delia Green" + Savannah you will get contemporary newspaper accounts of the trial of Cooney Huston, which you can compare with the lyrics of the song. They differ considerably and in rather interesting ways. For instance, the song say that Delia was a gambling girl, but she wasn't. Older murders are unlikely to offer that facility. If the song changed the facts so much in such a comparatively short time, what relation might older songs have to any original facts?

Sorry this doesn't really answer your question but might be useful.

dj


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 01 May 07 - 01:23 PM

I have the Voice Squad's Brown & Yellow Ale --- is there a murder in that? Reckon I haven't listened closely enough!

DJ, thanks for the tip about Delia. I do want to include a chapter about murder ballads based on true events.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,cliff
Date: 01 May 07 - 02:17 PM

@ Kim C
We'll, after the affair, the narrator "lay(s) down and died"-- though strangely continuing to narrate the song.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Mickey191
Date: 02 May 07 - 11:35 AM

Anyone recall a chilling song done by Willie Nelson as he describes putting his hands around his love's neck & killing her? It is positively the creepiest song I've ever heard. Sorry I don't know the name. I will search thru my cassettes to find it.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: GUEST,cliff
Date: 04 May 07 - 08:25 AM

If you haven't already, you'll definitely want to look at this book: "The Rose and the Briar", Norton, ISBN 0-393-05954-5


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Morris-ey
Date: 04 May 07 - 09:33 AM

Also check out Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Murder Ballads" for some modern gothic.


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Flash Company
Date: 04 May 07 - 09:38 AM

This is probably thread creep, but the mention of the Willie Nelson song reminded me of a poem by Browning which I learnt at school called (I think) Porphyria's Lover, in which he plaits a rope from her long hair and strangles her. The next line always made my blood run cold......
'She felt no pain....'

FC


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Subject: RE: Let's talk about murder ballads.
From: Kim C
Date: 04 May 07 - 10:19 AM

Thanks Cliff --- I'll see if I can find that book.

I've seen that Nick Cave album. Is it worth listening to?


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