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What murder ballad is the saddest? [songs]

Kent Davis 13 Aug 08 - 11:33 PM
Jayto 13 Aug 08 - 07:45 PM
kendall 13 Aug 08 - 07:42 PM
Jayto 13 Aug 08 - 07:37 PM
Deckman 13 Aug 08 - 07:18 PM
Snuffy 13 Aug 08 - 06:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 13 Aug 08 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,HiLo 13 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM
Uncle_DaveO 13 Aug 08 - 10:24 AM
Jayto 13 Aug 08 - 09:48 AM
kendall 13 Aug 08 - 09:40 AM
Jayto 13 Aug 08 - 08:43 AM
Marion 13 Aug 08 - 08:25 AM
DMcG 13 Aug 08 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 13 Aug 08 - 06:58 AM
Ruth Archer 13 Aug 08 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,HSA 13 Aug 08 - 04:44 AM
Kent Davis 13 Aug 08 - 12:19 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Aug 08 - 03:56 PM
Jayto 12 Aug 08 - 03:49 PM
Terry McDonald 12 Aug 08 - 02:50 PM
curmudgeon 12 Aug 08 - 02:47 PM
Jayto 12 Aug 08 - 02:39 PM
Bill D 12 Aug 08 - 01:24 PM
Bob Pacquin 12 Aug 08 - 01:20 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Aug 08 - 01:17 PM
Jayto 12 Aug 08 - 01:16 PM
Tattie Bogle 12 Aug 08 - 01:08 PM
Bill D 12 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM
Bee 12 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Volgadon 12 Aug 08 - 12:23 PM
Dave Sutherland 12 Aug 08 - 12:21 PM
SINSULL 12 Aug 08 - 12:18 PM
Mark Clark 12 Aug 08 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 12 Aug 08 - 12:03 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 12 Aug 08 - 12:00 PM
Severn 12 Aug 08 - 12:00 PM
SINSULL 12 Aug 08 - 11:53 AM
GUEST 12 Aug 08 - 11:47 AM
Dave Sutherland 12 Aug 08 - 11:45 AM
Severn 12 Aug 08 - 11:44 AM
PoppaGator 12 Aug 08 - 11:33 AM
Big Tim 12 Aug 08 - 11:20 AM
Severn 12 Aug 08 - 11:08 AM
John on the Sunset Coast 12 Aug 08 - 10:46 AM
SouthernCelt 12 Aug 08 - 10:44 AM
Big Al Whittle 12 Aug 08 - 10:43 AM
Will Fly 12 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM
Jayto 12 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM
topical tom 12 Aug 08 - 10:34 AM
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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 11:33 PM

Jayto,

Again, thanks for an interesting thread idea and, again, welcome to Mudcat. I'm glad you're here and hope you'll stay around. We can probably learn a lot from each other.

I never questioned the existence of sin eaters. I questioned their existence in Appalachia.

I have no wish to "hammer you" on Biblical texts or religions. I am puzzled by your statement, "As far as Biblical interpretation it is not as black and white as you say it is c'mon you know that." To what are you referring? I said nothing about Biblical interpretation being black and white. I said nothing about my own religious beliefs. I did say that the common religions of the 19th Century Appalachians (the Southern Appalachians, that is) base their beliefs on texts such as Hebrews 9:27,28. While those religions indeed disagree on several points, they were (and are still) in agreement that no one except Christ could take on, could "eat", another person's sin. This is true of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, etc. Therefore it seems unlikely that sin-eating was practiced in Southern Appalachia. You seem to think otherwise, and you may be right. I am eager to be corrected. What causes you to think that sin-eating was practiced in Appalachia?

Kent


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 07:45 PM

Thanks Kendall


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: kendall
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 07:42 PM

Jayto, order Lights Along the Shore from Folk Legacy records.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 07:37 PM

Not a traditional folk but a folk style song Tecumseh Valley by Townes Van Zandt


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Deckman
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 07:18 PM

"Star of Bannack" Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Snuffy
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 06:52 PM

I had a request for Old Shep last week, and after I'd sung it, the lady said "That was very nice, but it's not the one I meant: I wanted the other one about the dog, you know..."

I didn't, and still don't.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 03:58 PM

I'd second Old Shep.

A much better song than the not very interesing Sheath and Knife. I have seen folksingers debollocking themselves for years trying to inject a bit of interest into this interminable load of old socks. I mean seriously....

'Its about incest'

Oh really! I used to teach at a school where half the families were shagging each other. This song expresses little of the truth of the situation.

I don't get it. I am willing to be enlightened. the broom blooming bonny and fair for example....

wossitall about Alfie? Is it just wopabopalooma! Abopbam boom! Or is there some great (very well) hidden meaning?


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM

Miles Weatherhill and Sarah Bell is one of My Favourites as is Clerk Saunders. There are so many really Good ones it is hard to choose.Banks of The Sweet Dundee is another that comes to mind.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 10:24 AM

The word(s) to characterize Old Shep is/are "put down", "kill", or "euthanize", but not "murder". Besides that "murder" applies only to humans, "murder" implies ill will toward the victim. The putting down of Old Shep is done out of pity or mercy.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 09:48 AM

You all have got me wanting to hear Old Shep. I haven't heard it since I was a kid and barely remember the song. All this talk about it is making me want to gtrack it down. Are there any suggestions on a particular version I should try to locate?


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: kendall
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 09:40 AM

I recorded Old Shep on my first Folk Legacy vinal. One of the first songs I ever learned.
Old Rover is far sadder, Old Gilbert even sadder.

By the way, it is not possible to murder a dog. Only humans get murdered.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 08:43 AM

Kent I am not a historian nor claim to be. Sin eaters are not something that is practiced today. I put that up there as a half way tongue in cheek joke. I have heard stories about the sin eaters my whole life. Older people mainly told me about the practice and it did exist. You will find there are alot of takes on biblical text. If there was not different viewpoints on the text we would not have so many different types of churches. Penecostals, Holiness, etc... I am not a religous scholar either so don't hammer me on that. Are you familiar with death eaters? If you are maybe you can help me if I was misinformed. Explain your take on the death eaters and what they were suppose to do. As far as Biblical interpretation it is not as black and white as you say it is c'mon you know that. Personally I have never seen a death eater I have only heard tales fakelore or folklore at times it is hard to make a distinction. All I have is a lifetime of stories from older people about the practice. Foot washings, covering mirrors, sitting with the dead, there are alot of old traditions that are rare if practiced at all anymore but they once were. The song Oh death I don't know I dig the song I had heard that it was a funeral song from several people it may not be who knows. and I don't really care. That is the one I have heard the least about. The death eaters though is something I know was a practice at least in certain areas because I have heard alot of older people talk about it. Anyway I put death eaters and death sitters in a half joking way lighten up.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Marion
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 08:25 AM

M.Ted wrote a song, "Ballad of Kayla Rolland", about a little girl in first grade shot by a boy in her class (2000 in Michigan).


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 07:57 AM

I'd second the vote for 'Sheath and Knife'. The brother is begged by his sister to kill her because of their incestuous relationship, which he does. Afterwards, he mourns the loss and still believes his sister was his only true love, rejecting all others. That takes some beating for sadness.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 06:58 AM

In most versions of Andrew Rose the mistreated sailor survives. But, in fact, I believe that he actually died before they arrived in Liverpool. The story is based on fact.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 05:10 AM

Child Morris, though the version that brings tears to my eyes is Martin Carthy's Bill Norrie:

"Once I was full of this boy
As the plum is of the stone..."


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,HSA
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 04:44 AM

For pure pathos I would go with Mill O' Tiftie's Annie as mentioned previously.

For malevolence in the brother-gets-sister pregnant-then kills-her genre I would suggest "The Rich Man's Daughter" not already mentioned which ends with the lines:
"so the rich man's daughter died that day, her child it died within her
But the rich man's son still goes his way, a vile and dreadful sinner"
No repentence there then.

Helen


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 12:19 AM

Jayto,

Welcome to Mudcat and thanks for any interesting thread idea.

"O Death" is certainly chilling, as you say, but I wonder if it were ever sung at funerals. Do you know of any funerals at which it was sung? I can think of few songs less appropriate for such an occasion: thread.cfm?threadid=12846

I think you are correct that it is a traditional Appalachian song, but I can't see how it would be considered a hymn. The word "hymn" means, I believe, a song of praise or thanksgiving to God http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hymn. "O Death" is certainly not that.

As for its having been sung "before the...sin eaters did their thing", I would appreciate a reference or two, if possible. The idea that one could alter the eternal fate of someone already dead is about as unAppalachian a belief as any I've heard. In Appalachia, the traditional idea is summed up in Hebrews 9:27-28 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." No room for sin-eaters there, just one sin-bearer and that is Christ himself.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time, just trying to question what looks to me like a bit of fakelore you've picked up. I'd be glad to stand corrected if I'm wrong about this.

Kent


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 03:56 PM

Any ballad in which members of the same family unwittingly or accidentally kill each other.
Babylon Child 14 Brother kills 2 sisters and is told by third sister who she is. He kills himself.
Cruel Brother Child 11 Brother accidentally kills brother with his dagger while they are wrestling. Brother kills himself.

Cruel Mother is certainly sad and shocking but was probably written by a broadside hack as a warning to young well-heeled girls to avoid liaisons with servants. The probably very young girl of the 17thc is definitely distracted when she does the dastardly deed. Such deeds were not unheard of until quite recently now the stigma attached to bastardy is not so draconian.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 03:49 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 02:50 PM

But no one is murdered in Andrew Rose - unless Captain Rogers' execution is classified as'murder.'


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 02:47 PM

Sorry to disappoint, SINS, but I don't sing about Suzie Cleland (Child 65). But I do have The Death of Bill Brown - two killings in one song; The Banks of Airdrie-O - two sisters murdered, the third saved by brother who kills the murderer. And I have to finish learning The Bloody Gardener one of these days.

I can't stand the Long Black Veil - its insipid, its not a balld, and ghosts can't narrate.

I'm not familiar with the McTell Bentley and Craig, but its uncomfortably close to Fred/KarlDallas' Ballad of Bentley and Craig in both title and text .   .

And of course the fiddling about with the clock does make MacPherson's hanging a murder

-- Tom


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 02:39 PM

Oh Death by Ralph Stanley is not a murder ballad but a chilling song about death. It is a traditional Appalachian mountain hymn if I remember right. I don't think he wrote it. It was sung at funerals before the death sitters and sin eaters did their thing.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 01:24 PM

"Andrew Rose" is almost too overwhelming to be 'sad'.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bob Pacquin
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 01:20 PM

i can help with that but dad can do that too


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 01:17 PM

Another worthy addition to this thread is John Kelly's magisterial version of Andrew Rose.

I urge you to see this wonderful singer of traditional material as soon as you can. As readers of the mudcat will know, I don't always enjoy traditional singers - but this guy is absolutely something else.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 01:16 PM

What delta blues singer did Death Letter? I used to know but it is slipping my mind right now. It is not a murder ballad but...


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Subject: Lyr Add: MILL O' TIFTY'S ANNIE + SHEAF AND KNIFE
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 01:08 PM

"Mill o' Tifty's Annie" AKA "Andrew Lammie".

MILL O' TIFTY

At Mill o' Tifty there lived a man, in the neighbourhood o' Fyvie,
And he had a lovely daughter dear, wha's name was bonnie Annie.
Lord Fyvie had a trumpeter, by the name o' Andrew Lammie,
And he had the airt tae win the heart o' Mill O' Tifty's Annie.

Lord Fyvie he cam tae the mill whar lived bonnie Annie,
His trumpeter rade him before, even the same Andrew Lammie.
Her mither cried her tae the door, sayin, "Come here tae me, my Annie,
Did ere ye see a bonnier man, than the trumpeter o' Fyvie.

Nothing she said, but sighing so, alas for bonnie Annie,
She darena own, her heart was won by the servant Andrew Lammie.
That nicht as a' gaed tae their beds, a sleepit soond but Annie,
Love so repressed her tender breast, thinking on Andrew Lammie.

"The first time my love and I met, 'twas in the woods o' Fyvie,
He called me mistress, I said no, I was Tifty's bonnie Annie."
Her faither cam tae hear o' this, and a letter wrote tae Fyvie,
To say his dochter was bewitched by the trumpeter of Fyvie.

Lord Fyvie he cam tae the mill, sayin "What ails ye bonnie Annie?"
"Och it's a' for love that I'm cast doon for the love of Andrew Lammie".
"Oh, Tifty, Tifty, gie consent and let yer dochter marry",
"Na, it'll be tae ane o' a higher degree than the servant Andrew Lammie."

"If she'd been born o' as rich a kin as she is rich in beauty,
I wad hae ta'en the lass mysel and made her my ain Lady".
"Oh Fyvie's lands are far and wide, and they are wondrous bonnie,
But I wadnae trade my ain dear love no for a' yer lands o' Fyvie,"

At this her faither did her scorn, and likewise did her mither,
Her sisters they did her disown, oh but wae's me for her brither.
Her brither struck her wondrous o'er wi cruel blows and mony,
He's broke her back on the temple stane a' for liking Andrew Lammie.

"Oh faither, mither, sisters a', why sae cruel tae yer Annie?
My hert was broken first by love, noo my brither's broke my body".
"Oh mither, mither, mak my bed and turn my head tae Fyvie,
For it's there I'll lie and there I'll die for the servant, Andrew Lammie".


Or maybe: Sheath and knife.


SHEATH AND KNIFE

Oh 'tis whispered in the kitchen, 'tis whispered in the hall
The broom blooms bonnie, the broom blooms fair
That the King's daughter gaes wi' a bairnie by her brither
And they daur not gae doon tae the broom ony mair.

He has ta'en his sister doon tae his faither's deer park,
The broom....
Wi' his yew tree bow and arrow, slung fast across his back
And they daur....

And when the guard he heard her, gie a loud cry,
A silver arrer fae his bow, he suddenly let fly,

He has dug tae her a grave, that was long, wide and deep,
And he's buried his ain sister, wi' their bairnie at her feet,

And when the guard he came to his faither's hall,
There was music, there were minstrels, and dancin' and all,

Oh Willie, my son Willie, wha' gies tae ye sic pain,
I ha'e lost that sheath and knife I can never find again,

And My faither micht ha'e ships that sail upon the sea,
Ah, but sic a sheath and knife they can never bring tae me....


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM

Though it does not make one *sniffle* like "Old Shep" does, one very sad song is "The Twa Corbies"...in which a knight is discovered dead (presumably 'murdered') in a field by a couple of crows. As they discuss how to share the feast, the songs notes that his hawk, hounds and girlfriend have simply abandoned him and gone on, and that after the crows are finshed, "o'er his white bones... the wind shall blow forever more".
   I guess the song is too short and compact to evoke 'sadness' as we think of it....especially since it notes that "naebody kens that he lies there".


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bee
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM

Echo Mountain, by James King. It's his bluegrass retelling of the very old tale of the faithful hound, murdered by the owner who mistakenly thinks the blood-drenched hound has savaged the baby, only to find the child safe and a dead wolf nearby.

Okay, it's a dog, but it is an extreme tearjerker, I assure you, and a wrongful death is at the centre of the story. Gave my husband a case of the sniffles.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:23 PM

"The whole self gratification and worshipping of money is normally absent in folk songs lol. At least the ones I have heard lol."

Greensleeves?

Anyway, back to murder ballads. I can't make up my mind which is the saddest, but here are some very moving ones.

The Red Barn Murder, seeing as that actually happened.
Poor Murdered Women.
Wicked Gardner, a mother tricks her son's girlfriend into a garden at night where she runs into a psycopath.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:21 PM

Severn - in more complete versions of Long Lankin/Lambkin - Lankin has built the castle in which the lord, lady and baby are dwelling but he has been refused payment by the lord, for various reasons, for his work. Lankin swears revenge and that is why the lord is saying to beware of him. Therefore Lankin is as much sinned against as sinning.
Perhaps the lord misunderstood him when he said that he was a Freemason lol.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: SINSULL
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:18 PM

Tom Hall (curmudgeon) sings one about a daughter who refuses to marry a rich man chosen for her by her father. Father and brother burn her alive - charming. I was horrified the first time I heard it.
SINS


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Subject: Lyr Add: DELIA'S GONE
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:17 PM

SINSULL, I really like your answer. I am the only person I know of who actually sings that song any more. I first heard it not from Red Foley but from Elvis Presley. It was on his second LP in about 1954, the first LP I remember buying. By the 1970s I'd lost track of it and couldn't find lyrics for it anywhere. One day I walked into Main Music in Skokie, IL, and Jethro Burns was seated behind the counter leaned back with his feet up on the counter. Thinking that Jethro might actually know the lyrics, I asked if he knew them. Jethro's eyes widened in astonishment and his jaw dropped open. "Old Shep?" he whined in genuine astonishment. If he knew the lyrics, he wasn't about to admit it. He seemed amazed that anyone would want to know.

To me a good candidate for the saddest murder balled is Delia's Gone...
Shot my Delia on a Christmas night,
The very first time I shot her she hung her head and died,
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone (one more round),
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone.

Sent for the doctor, doctor come too late,
Sent for the burying man to lay out Delia straight,
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone (one more round),
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone.

That one always gets me.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:03 PM

Originally recorded in Nashville in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell and produced by Don Law, it reached #6 on the U.S. Country chart. The song was written by composer and singer Danny Dill with Marijohn Wilkin in a folk music style in 1959. Wilkin also played piano on the original recording by Frizzell.

The writers later stated that they drew on three sources for their inspiration: Red Foley's recording of "God Walks These Hills With Me"; a contemporary newspaper report about the unsolved murder of a priest; and the legend of a mysterious veiled woman who regularly visited Rudolph Valentino's grave. Dill himself called it an "instant folksong".


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:00 PM

Little Blossom   (in DT)


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Subject: Lyr Add: LONG LANKIN
From: Severn
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 12:00 PM

Here you go, Big Tim.

For the senselessness and brutality of it all.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LONG LANKIN

Said my lord to my lady, as he mounted his horse:
"Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the moss."

Said my lord to my lady, as he rode away:
"Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the hay."

"Let the doors be all bolted and the windows all pinned,
And leave not a hole for a mouse to creep in."

So he kissed his fair lady and he rode away,
And he was in fair London before the break of day.

The doors were all bolted and the windows all pinned,
Except one little window where Long Lankin crept in.

"Where's the lord of this house?" Said Long Lankin,
"He's away in fair London." said the false nurse to him.
"Where's the little heir of this house ?" said Long Lankin.
"He's asleep in his cradle," said the false nurse to him.

"We'll prick him, we'll prick him all over with a pin,
And that'll make my lady to come down to him.'

So he pricked him, he pricked him all over with a pin,
And the nurse held the basin for the blood to flow in.

"O nurse, how you slumber. O nurse, how you sleep.
You leave my little son Johnson to cry and to weep."

"O nurse, how you slumber, O nurse how you snore.
You leave my little son Johnson to cry and to roar."

"I've tried him with an apple, I've tried him with a pear.
Come down, my fair lady, and rock him in your chair."

"I've tried him with milk and I've tried him with pap.
Come down, my fair lady, and rock him in your lap."

"How durst I go down in the dead of the night
Where there's no fire a-kindled and no candle alight ?"

"You have three silver mantles as bright as the sun.
Come down, my fair lady, all by the light of one."

My lady came down, she was thinking no harm
Long Lankin stood ready to catch her in his arm.

Here's blood in the kitchen. Here's blood in the hall
Here's blood in the parlour where my lady did fall.

Her maiden looked out from the turret so high
And she saw her master from London riding by.

"O master, O master, don't lay the blame on me
'Twas the false nurse and Lankin that killed your lady."

Long Lankin was hung on a gibbet so high
And the false nurse was burnt in a fire close by.

From The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, Williams and Lloyd
Recorded by Steeleye Span on Commoner's Crown and by Carthy & Swarbrick
on But Two Came By
Child #93
@murder
filename[ BOLAMKN3
TUNE FILE: BOLAMKN3
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: SINSULL
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 11:53 AM

Old Shep


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 11:47 AM

Cruel Mother / Down by the Greenwood Side.
Single woman falls pregnant and has a baby (we know not how, save that "she leaned her back against the thorn"). She then kills the child - surely the most desperate of measures - before meeting the ghost of the child and, in many versions, being condemned to the fires of eternal torment.
There are those who believe the title "Cruel Mother" unacceptable. Could this be the story of a young woman in fear and despair?


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 11:45 AM

"Child Owlett" for sheer injustice. "Two Butchers" for utter deception.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Severn
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 11:44 AM

A UK ballad. Try Martin Carthy's version first on one of his earlier albums or on a compilation called "Selections" where I heard it, as it might be easiest to find. A version by Ben Butcher, collected and recorded by Bob Copper is on "The Folksongs Of Britain Vol.IV: The Chid Ballads Vol.I" (Caedmon 1145) under the name of "Cruel Lincoln". It's also known as "Young Lincoln". Steeleye Span even did a reworking on "Commoner's Crown"

See if it's in the Digital Tradition. If not I'll try and find a text for you.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 11:33 AM

Lefty Frizzel was indeed the first of many to record "Long Black Veil," but he didn't write it.

It was co-written by Marijohn Wilkin and Danny Dills.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Big Tim
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 11:20 AM

Long Lankin?


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Severn
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 11:08 AM

I tend to stay away from all the "Idiot Bastard Son" ballads (as a friend calls them like "Willow Garden", "Pretty Polly", "Knoxville Girl", "Little Glass Of Wine" and "Banks of the Ohio", maybe because I don't like the murderers, or maybe because if I hear yet another version of "Banks Of The Ohio" I'd be tempted (but would resist) to strangle the perpe-traitor themselves. Of course I wouldn't even think of harming Doc. Who would ever want to harm Doc? I didn't really mean that, Doc, honest!.....

"The Well Below The Valley" and "The Cruel Mother" tie for the top female murderers.


.....But about the grimmest character I can think of, and probably the one I'd least like to meet up with or tangle with is "Long Lankin" (and his nurse accomplice).


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:46 AM

Jayto, right you are. Frizzell had a huge hit (country) with it in 1959. Even the Kingston Trio, Burl Ives and Joan Baez beat Cash in recording the song.

My choice for saddest -- Matty Groves


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: SouthernCelt
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:44 AM

I've always thought "Greenwood Sidie" (also called "The Cruel Mother" in some versions) related the saddest tale. It's also one of the more shocking songs for some people the first time they hear it.

SC


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Subject: Lyr Add: BENTLEY AND CRAIG (Ralph McTell)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:43 AM

Ralph McTell's 'Bentley and Craig' - I find more moving than most of the trad ones.

BENTLEY AND CRAIG
(Ralph McTell)
(grammar and dates are all Ralph's)

In 1952 in Croydon
There was bomb sites still around from the war
November that year food was scarcely off the ration
Two boys went out to rob a store.

Craig, he was just about sixteen years old
Bentley, he was nineteen
But Craig had a shooter stuck in his pocket
Mad him feel more like a man.

Out on the roof of Barlow and Parker
Somebody saw them there
In a matter of minutes, the police had arrived
And when they saw them you can bet those boys were scared.

Craig, he shouted that he had a gun
And he thought about the movies that he'd seen
Back at Fell Road, they signed the rifles out
And arrived very quick back on the scene.

Some of the police got onto the rooftop
Bentley knew that he could not escape
So he gave himself up and they put him under arrest
And he begged his young friend Chris won't you do the same.

Give me the gun the sergeant cried
Let him have it Chris poor Bentley said
But a shot rang out well it tore the night in half
Well the poor policeman was lying there dead.

Some people said it was a bullet from Craig's gun
That laid that policeman away
Some people said it was a police marksman's bullet
Some people said it could be a ricochet.

Both was found guilty of murder Craig he was too young not yet a man
Though he was under arrest when the fatal shot was fired
Derek Bentley was judged old enough to hang
Bentley he was judged to be a man.

Twenty-three of January in Wandsworth prison
When they took poor Bentley's life
Some people shouted and some people prayed
Some people just hung their heads and cried.

Oh you men on our behalf who sanctioned that boy's death
There's still one thing left to do
You can pardon Derek Bentley who never took a life
For Derek Bentley cannot pardon you

Derek Bentley cannot pardon you.


©Misty River Music 1982


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM

"The Wind That Shakes The Barley" is pretty sad - though it's known as "The Wind That Shakes Bill Bailey" in the Ceilidh band I occasionally play in.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM

I think Lefty Frizzell was the first to record Long Black Veil. Does anyone know if I am right about that? I was shocked years ago when I found out it was written in the 50's. I had always heard folk singers do it and thought it was an old folk song. I heard a guy do a version and before he did he said " I am going to do an old song by Lefty Frizzell." I thought to myself Lefty may have done it but it is older than that. Man was I wrong lol.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: topical tom
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:34 AM

Already mentioned and my choice too:"Banks of the Ohio":
   
   Here


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