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What murder ballad is the saddest? [songs]

frogprince 04 Mar 09 - 01:18 PM
GUEST 04 Mar 09 - 08:08 AM
GUEST,Martin Farrell 27 Aug 08 - 08:27 PM
TalkingBird 27 Aug 08 - 06:32 PM
Art Thieme 21 Aug 08 - 05:15 PM
Jayto 21 Aug 08 - 12:56 AM
Girl Friday 20 Aug 08 - 08:28 PM
Jayto 20 Aug 08 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Mike B. 20 Aug 08 - 05:12 PM
Neil D 19 Aug 08 - 10:24 PM
Charley Noble 19 Aug 08 - 08:42 PM
Leadfingers 19 Aug 08 - 09:17 AM
Leadfingers 19 Aug 08 - 09:16 AM
Girl Friday 19 Aug 08 - 08:48 AM
Bryn Pugh 19 Aug 08 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,BigDaddy 18 Aug 08 - 06:19 PM
Harmonium Hero 18 Aug 08 - 01:40 PM
Coinneach1916 16 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 16 Aug 08 - 10:18 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Aug 08 - 07:27 AM
Dave Sutherland 16 Aug 08 - 06:20 AM
Acorn4 15 Aug 08 - 07:17 PM
TalkingBird 15 Aug 08 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,TalkingBird 15 Aug 08 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,cStu 15 Aug 08 - 01:41 PM
Jayto 15 Aug 08 - 12:40 PM
M.Ted 15 Aug 08 - 11:50 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM
Jayto 15 Aug 08 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 15 Aug 08 - 08:32 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 08 - 08:22 AM
Jay777 15 Aug 08 - 04:30 AM
Jayto 15 Aug 08 - 02:02 AM
Jayto 15 Aug 08 - 01:56 AM
fumblefingers 15 Aug 08 - 01:10 AM
Joe_F 14 Aug 08 - 11:10 PM
Kent Davis 14 Aug 08 - 09:03 PM
Harmonium Hero 14 Aug 08 - 05:44 PM
Harmonium Hero 14 Aug 08 - 05:02 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Aug 08 - 03:26 PM
The Sandman 14 Aug 08 - 01:18 PM
Jayto 14 Aug 08 - 01:13 PM
M.Ted 14 Aug 08 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,DaveP 14 Aug 08 - 12:26 PM
Jayto 14 Aug 08 - 12:12 PM
M.Ted 14 Aug 08 - 12:07 PM
M.Ted 14 Aug 08 - 11:52 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 08 - 05:57 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 08 - 03:15 AM
Jayto 14 Aug 08 - 01:12 AM
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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: frogprince
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 01:18 PM

"Killing Me Softly With His Song" ; )


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 08:08 AM

Welcome to Mudcat - Jayto - I learn something new all the time here.

On the Topic of murder

CLASSIC - excerpt- see DT for full
Haunting in tune and lyrics is "Ash Grove." In the DT http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=3663

Her father unwilling and threatening the worst
Did shoot at the lad, but the bowstring was twisted
So crooked the arrow struck deep in her breast.
In anger, the squire, his sword at the ready,
Did thrust at the heart of the unflinching lad.
"'Tis better to die by my own lover's side
Than to live in sorrow in the Palace Ash-grove."

MODERN - excerpt - see DT for full - Billie Holiday
Haunting in tune and lyrics is "Strange Fruit" in the DT http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=5566

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Just because you have not seen something does not mean it does not exist. I was VERY doubtful about this "sin-eating" thing... (Kent Davis comment in another thread led me here) I learned something of a different culture - thanks. Likewise, Mr. Jayto, it is doubtful you would have witnessed it, so regarding your statementalot of old traditions that are rare if practiced at all anymore but they once were. Foot Washing is still actively practiced and it is not rare; it is part of the three-fold-communion and one of the most sacred of celebrations within some churchs.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Martin Farrell
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 08:27 PM

What about "The Murder of Maria Marten" as sung by Shirley Collins?


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: TalkingBird
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 06:32 PM

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll by Bob Dylan.
In addition to the sadness of the murder itself (a wealthy young white man, already drunk, beat a 50-year-old black waitress with his cane, for bringing his drink too slowly) there's also the sadness of the justice system which gave the killer 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. His defense was that he was drunk and didn't know what he was doing, and he was reported in a newspaper account at the time to have gloated about the lightness of the sentence.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Aug 08 - 05:15 PM

Arguably, this is a murder ballad. When you consider the sad state of medical care a while ago, it seems to be one to me.

The Death Of Queen Jane
as sung by Bascom Lamar Lunsford

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 21 Aug 08 - 12:56 AM

Thanks Girl Friday I can't wait.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Girl Friday
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 08:28 PM

Jayto. I have pm'd you about this one.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 05:31 PM

Leneord Cohen does write some dark material. I love his work and agree with you 100%. Townes still gets me harder and faster than anybody but man Cohen does rank up there with me as well.
Girl Friday that is awsome there are few things you can do to make a ballad darker than putting it in a minor key. I would love to hear your version of Banks.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Mike B.
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 05:12 PM

Songs that recount some of the heinous crimes that galvanized the civil rights movement in the south - such as Pete Seeger's "Those Three Are On My Mind", Richard Farina's "Birmingham Sunday" and Bob Dylan's "The Death Of Emmett Till".


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Neil D
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 10:24 PM

Jayto asks: Out of folk writers who do you think wrote the consistently saddest or most depressing songs?

   I have heard Leonard Cohen's songs described as "real shower rod music", meaning they are so depressing they could make you suicidal.
Personally, I love his music and it never makes me depressed, reflective maybe, but not depressed. Now Terry Jacks on the other hand...
   

   As to the saddest murder ballad:
I say "The Well Below the Valley"
My wife says "Ballad of Hollis Brown" by Bob Dylan
My son says "When the Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 08:42 PM

"Poor Ellen Smith" and "Wild Bill Jones" are two more Appalachian murder ballads but maybe not the saddest. "Rain and Snow" is another one.

Then there's "Eggs and Marrowbones."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 09:17 AM

And the Tim Evans case was one of the reasons Capital Punishment was taken off the books .


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 09:16 AM

100


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Girl Friday
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 08:48 AM

For a murder ballad, Banks of The Ohio has the most sickly,sweet tune.
We've put it into C minor and it sounds psychotic - which it should do.

Tone Deaf Leopard. We perform our own compositions, childe ballads, parodies, 70s pop and folk, in fact everything but Def Leppard songs.
TDL


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 06:10 AM

Young Johnston does it for me. The girlfriend hides him from his pursuers, and he knifes her for her pains and watches her bleed to death.

Four and twenty clothyard shafts saw to him, tho' - nothing like making sure, is there ?


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 18 Aug 08 - 06:19 PM

Probably best to stick to fact and what you know from personal experience, rather than hearsay and conjecture when discussing the beliefs and customs of a particular area or group of people.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 18 Aug 08 - 01:40 PM

'The Border Widow's Lament' is reckoned to date from King James 5th's campaign in 1529 to bring law and order to the borders. The hanged man is said to be one Perys Cockburn of Henderland, a freebooter who they left hanging from the gate of his own tower (although, as with 'Lord Gregory', I have heard that the story also appears in other cultures). Hardly like to mention it, but this, too, appears on my CD along with 'lord Gregory' and 'Andrew Rose'....
John Kelly. ('Angin's & Drownin's a speciality)


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Coinneach1916
Date: 16 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM

Try The Ballad of Tim Evans by Ewan MacColl.
Sad song of a man wrong accused and hanged for the murder of his wife and child. This was an actual case in England in the '50's.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 16 Aug 08 - 10:18 AM

'The Old Oak Tree', sung by Cathal McConnell on the first Boys of the Lough album. By comparison, most of the songs mentioned here are about as sad as 'Ernie, The Fastest Milkman In The West'. Which ia also sad, but in another way.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Aug 08 - 07:27 AM

The Border Widow's Lament is Walter Scott's re-write of the traditional ballad Famous Flower of Serving Men (Child 106).
The widow of a slain knight disguises herself as as a man and gets employment as the king's manservant. She is discovered by the king who returns unexpectedly from a hunting trip. They marry and all live happily ...... etc.
Probably the most beautifully tragic of the ballads is 'Bonnie Annie' aka as 'The Banks of Green Willow'.
A woman becomes pregnant by a sailor and is smuggled on board ship, where she gives birth.
The ship is becalmed and the sailors claim that there is a sinner on board. The mother and child are discovered, thrown overboard and drowned and (in the English version) "will be buried on the Banks of Green Willow".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 16 Aug 08 - 06:20 AM

If you are looking for injustice then "Baron o'Brackley" is pretty hard to beat although some notes suggest that it was a revenge/retaliation killing.
One very moving ballad is "The Border Widow's Lament" where the second verse
"There came a knight by middle day,
He spied his sport and went his way,
He brought the King that very night,
And slew my man before my sight"

suggests a totally motiveless killing. Possibly there was more to the original ballad than the story that survives?


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Acorn4
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 07:17 PM

I think "Lord Gregory" because of the bits it leaves out - implication is suicide rather than murder, but the sense of injustice is very evocatively put across.


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHAT BECAME OF ARTHUR CLYDE
From: TalkingBird
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 03:26 PM

Less well known, but also very sad, is the traditional ballad about the murder of Arthur Clyde by his fiancé's brother during a heated argument. The brother immediately regrets the terrible deed and its effect on his beloved sister, and he confesses to her while dying. He may have killed himself out of remorse and guilt, though the song doesn't say explicitly. The confession apparently takes place long after the actual murder, since he tells her that it took place "one autumn evening." He tells of disposing of Arthur Clyde's body, so presumably, his sister never knew her lover had been killed, and she may have assumed until this confession that he'd abandoned her. The song was recorded by Loman Cansler on the Folkways album "Missouri Folk Songs." A clip of it can be heard at http://www.folkways.si.edu/trackdetail.aspx?itemid=12139


WHAT BECAME OF ARTHUR CLYDE

I am dying, sister, dying, and my voice is getting low.
There is something I must tell you, sister dear, before I go.

Sister darling, Arthur's missing, whom you longed someday to wed.
Weep not, faint not, oh dear sister, when I tell you Arthur's dead.

Him you loved, but him I hated; hated why I was not sure;
But to see him with you, sister, was more than I could endure.

So at last, one autumn evening, as the pale moon lightly shone,
Down beside the rolling water, I met Arthur all alone.

Words that passed I don't remember, for I in the passion flew;
And we fought with sword and dagger. Then and there I Arthur slew.

Then I thought of you, dear sister, thought how you'd be left alone;
And I'd give my life, dear sister, to undo this deed I'd done.

But I knew that with all my weeping, all the tears that I might shed
Could not bring life back to Arthur, lying there so cold and dead.

So I took his lifeless body, cast it o'er the river side;
And I leave this world to wonder what became of Arthur Clyde.


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Subject: Little Omie Wise
From: GUEST,TalkingBird
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 03:18 PM

The Ballad of Omie Wise tells the very sad real-life story of the murder of the diminutive orphan Naomi Wise. She was killed by her lover, who lured her to a secluded spot by telling her they were going away to elope. His mother opposed his marriage to the orphan girl and had what she felt was a more suitable wife picked out for him. Little Omie loved him and trusted him, but John killed her to get rid of her so he could follow his mother's wishes. The song was recorded by Doc Watson, John McCutcheon, and many others, in a variety of forms.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,cStu
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 01:41 PM

The Ballad Of Hollis Brown


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 12:40 PM

Sounds yummy Ted lol Maybe we can make one and all eat it as a truce on this sin eater thing lol. I am gonna have to find a sin eater and have him eat the sin of bringing the subject up lol.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 11:50 AM

Here's a recipe, clipped from the NYT:

Kentucky Funeral Cake

Yield: About 4 dozen.
(Adapted from ''Kentucky Cooking'' by Charles Patteson with Craig Emerson) Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour and 20 minutes 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan 2 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the pan 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups sugar 4 large eggs 1 cup milk 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

2.Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly. Fold in the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Stir in vanilla.

4.Pour into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake 60 to 70 minutes longer, until the cake is brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold and continue cooling.

Yield: 1 large cake.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM

Jim,
Wilco.
Over and out.
Steve


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 08:45 AM

Out of folk writers who do you think wrote the consistently saddest or most depressing songs? I think Townes Van Zandt would have to recieve my vote. I love Townes but I can only listen to him in small doses. He was a brilliant lyricist I think but I can feel the pain in every word wrote and sung by him.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 08:32 AM

Mr. Fox.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 08:22 AM

"TCM is just about my favourite ballad in its more recent forms."
Mine to, but don't think there is anything like enough of the earliest fragment to give the slightest clue as to its origins; nor do I think the title chosen by the broadside producer is an indication.
Probably not the most appropriate place to discuss this - over a pint next time we're in London maybe.
Best
Jim Carroll


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Subject: Lyr Add: CRAZY MAN MICHAEL (Fairport Convention)
From: Jay777
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 04:30 AM

CRAZY MAN MICHAEL - Fairport Convention.

Within the fire and out upon the sea
Crazy Man Michael was walking
He met with a raven with eyes black as coals
And shortly they were a-talking

"Your future, your future, I would tell to you
Your future, you often have asked me
Your true love will die by your own right hand
And Crazy Man Michael will cursed be"

Michael he ranted and Michael he raved
And beat at the four winds with his fists-oh
He laughed and he cried, he shouted and he swore
For his mad mind had trapped him with a kiss-oh

"You speak with an evil, you speak with a hate
You speak for the devil that haunts me
For is she not the fairest in all the broad land?
Your sorcerer's words are to taunt me"

He took out his dagger of fire and of steel
And struck down the raven through the heart-oh
The bird fluttered long and the sky it did spin
And the cold earth did wonder and start-oh

"Oh, where is the raven that I struck down dead
That here'd lie on the ground-oh?
I see but my true love with a wound so red"
Her lover's heart it did pound-oh

Crazy Man Michael, he wanders and walks
And talks to the night and the day-oh
But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is clear
And he longs to be far away-oh

Michael, he whistles the simplest of tunes
And asks the wild woods their pardon
For his true love is flown into every flower grown
And he must be keeper of the garden


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 02:02 AM

I mean Ken not Ted I need to go to bed lol


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 01:56 AM

Well Ted maybe we can agree to disagree about the topic. I don't want to bicker and lose a potential new friend over a petty argument. If I am wrong i'm wrong and if I am right I'm right it really doesn't matter. If I am wrong I can assure you it is unintentional. I am not trying to mislead anyone. It's a pleasure to meet you Ted and I hope we have plenty of pleasant conversations in the future.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: fumblefingers
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 01:10 AM

Nashville Girl


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Joe_F
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 11:10 PM

Mary Hamilton.
Danny Deever.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 09:03 PM

M.Ted, You are certainly right in saying that, "formal religious doctrine often has little to nothing to do with the day-to-day practices and customs in a religious community--"

My family has lived in the Southern Appalachians for 7 generations, as has my wife's family. Besides what I've learned from my family and hers, I've been reading Appalachian folklore for over 30 years. I've also been reading about different religious practices for over 30 years. Except in this thread, I've never seen any reports of the practice of sin-eating in Appalachia. If you or Jayto or anybody has any information about the practice here, I hope you will start a new thread on the topic and include references that are as specific as possible. Thanks.

Kent


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 05:44 PM

Er...me again; It's just struck me that I was getting a bit carried away with meself there - Lord Gregory isn't about murder, although the girl ends up dead. Tragic, though. JK.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 05:02 PM

I'm only just catching up with this - I've been away.
Bee: I haven't heard 'Echo Mountain', but there's a town - or a village, I can't remember - in North Wales called Beddgelert, which is supposed to be the burial place of the dog Gelert, whose owner, Llewelyn killed him in the mistaken belief that the dog had killed his baby son. Apparently the tale is also known in other European cultures...You're right; the tale's a real tear-jerker. I have sung a version of it. I had to sing it quite a few times before I could get through it without welling up!
Terry McDonald: As George Henderson says, 'Andrew Rose is a true story. And yes - he died about four days out from Liverpool, as a direct result of a relentless campaign of abuse and cruelty inflicted by the captain and the two mates. Does the victim have to drop dead on the spot for it to be called murder?
Bill D: 'The Twa Corbies' wasn't meant to be 'sad'; it was apparently written as a synical parody (if that's the word) on the earlier song 'The Three Ravens'.
What about 'Lord Gregory'? AKA 'Lass of Loch Royan' etc. Pretty tragic for my money. I even put it on my CD....
Just struggling with me coat here...John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 03:26 PM

Jim,
TCM is just about my favourite ballad in its more recent forms. In its earliest known form, the 17thc broadside 'The Duke's Daughter's Cruelty' it is to me a typical warning to upper class young maids to avoid liaisons with family servants, as you say, in this case a cleric. There is absolutely no reason or evidence to suggest that the ballad is any older than this broadside version which contains all of the verses other than those borrowed in Scotland from Child 21 The Maid and the Palmer. Some of the style and language has been borrowed from oral tradition, but wasn't that ever the case?

Steve


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 01:18 PM

Blair Peach.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 01:13 PM

You know the practices I am speaking about are only performed by a few if they are practiced at all anymore. I have lived here for the majority of my life. My great great grandfather was the founding father of Muhlenburg county (The next couny to my east about 5 miles from where I grew up). People laugh and say that when my family came into this area it was so new they had to pack the dirt in to bury themselves with. My girlfriends family is the same way they founded Hopkins County (the county I live in). We will hear stories and things that someone just moving in will never hear. A person could move in here and live here 90 yrs and never hear the old stories or know about the odd customs. In general the people are just as modern as anywhere else. They are still very clannish in some respects. If your not from here no matter how long you live here you will still be asked "Your not from around here are you?" I guess that is my point. People know my family has been here longer than the state has been a state. The same way with my girlfriend. You don't have to tell them all you have to do is say you last name. People are still very much ties to the past. It is not uncommon for you to meet someone and find out your great grandfather was best friends with thier great great uncle when they were kids. The odd customs may not be practiced (for the most part) but they are remembered and held with respect. There might be a little laughter or jokes made but not much. The people are just so tied to the past.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 12:38 PM

This is all very old stuff, Jayto--anthropologists find the beliefs among "remote savages" and talk about the way that they are among the oldest and most primitive religious ideas, meanwhile it doesn't occur to people that a lot of people walking around in our supposedly modern and enlightened world still believe the same things.

I call this stuff "Identified weirdness", because we see the beliefs in, say, rural Appalachians who talk, dress, and behave in ways that are identifiably different, and associate the beliefs with the "differences"--

In reality, a lot of the people with "differences" don't hold the beliefs, and a lot of people who behave, speak, and dress in the "same" way as the mainstream actually hold the beliefs, but don't express them in an "identifiably weird" way.

There is a fair amount of evidence that, even in the middle ages, when these sort of beliefs seemed to flourish, there were a lot of people who knew that they were not true, and, in fact considered them foolish.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,DaveP
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 12:26 PM

I heard a guy murder Sally Wheatley the other night - that was really sad.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 12:12 PM

Yeah I am 35 but when I was a kid the whole idea gave me the creeps. When I wrote about the clothing being returned I didn't mean it to be "Look how odd they are." I meant that there is still a belief by some that clothing and personal items can trap sins and spirits to be passed on to others. I can imagine (my own speculation) that if they believe that sins and spirits can be trapped by clothing and personal items I can see how a they believe a sin eater can remove sin from the items. I don't know if there is a link right there or not but I have wondered. A person filled with the spirit of God eating something filled with sin (drink harmful poison and will not hurt you because God is in you) may be able to kill the sin or spirit because God is in them (maybe this was the belief). The sin eater didn't destroy the sin God is in the sin eater and God did? I don't know just speculating. Intercessory prayer is another thing that reminds me of sin eating beliefs. There is alot of different views on this as well. A minority view (mainly Holiness and Pentecostal but not all of these either) think that certain people have the "gift" of intercessory prayer. Views of intercessory prayer are different and drastic. I know of some groups that believe that the person the has recieved "the gift" of intercessory prayer physically and mentally feels the pain of others torn by sin. If I had a headache the intercessor will have a headache and know to pray for you because the Devil is trying to break your bond with God by making you hurt. If I have a toothache the intercessor has a toothache. If I am stressed out over bills or just a bad day the intercessor will be stressed out. Basically the intercessor "takes on the sins and prays them away for you." I put that in quotes because that is what a preacher told me when I asked about a member of his congregation's unusual behavior. He told me that sometimes a person doesn't realize how much they are a sinner so God shows it to the intercessor through pain. The intercessor may not know who they are praying for but God makes them suffer for them until the intercessor prays the sin away. That freaked me out!! I should write a book about this sometime lol.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 12:07 PM

From "Funeral customs, Their Origin and Development", by Bertram S. Puckle, 1926.:

Howlett mentions sin-eating as an old custom in Hereford, and thus describes the practice: "The corpse being taken out of the house, and laid on a bier, a loaf of bread was given to the sin-eater over the corpse, also a maga-bowl of maple, full of beer. These consumed, a fee of sixpence was given him for the consideration of his taking upon himself the sins of the deceased, who, thus freed, would not walk after death."


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 11:52 AM

Kent, you're forgetting something I know that you know, which is that formal religious doctrine often has little to nothing to do with the day-to-day practices and customs in a religious community--

"Religion" is often a thin veneer that covers layer upon layer of superstition, unexamined belief, and ritual whose original meanings often have been lost or changed over the course of many generations.

Thanks for your description of the "sin eaters", Jayto. I grew up in a Northern factory town, and many of my playmates were transplants from Appalachia.   I never saw the "sin eaters" first hand, but knew that it happened, from things that I heard from friends.

I was disturbed by the descriptions of the custom--it was not until many years later that I realized that the little cakes that my elderly relatives baked and sent to the homes of the bereaved were a vestige of the same custom.


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 05:57 AM

PS
Steve
I was a little surprised to see The Cruel mother described as "probably written by a broadside hack". We have no idea who wrote 'The Cruel Mother'; we do know it is very old and popular enough to have survived, both among adults and children, right up to the present day.
The broadside trade was very much a two-way street, its participants taking as much (if not more) from the tradition as they gave to it.
The reference to the lady being pregnant by 'her father's clerk' probably refers to a household cleric, which would add to her problems I should have thought.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: Lyr Add: EDOM O' GORDON
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 03:15 AM

I have to admit that my first reaction to the term 'saddest' was 'that's a bit superficial'; but when I thought about it it really got the blood coursing. For me, Tiftie's Annie, Lambkin and Sheath and Knife are about 'women as chattels', 'feudal injustice', and 'incest leading to assisted suicide and castration', respectively, and most of the ballads I know are far too many-faceted to be pinned down to one single emotion; that's what makes them so involving. Though I do remember hearing MacColl talk about having to learn the ballad 'Edom o' Gordon' and explaining how he always had a problem identifying and sympathising with the 'family dispute' border ballads. He said he was having no luck with it until he got to the verse where the teenage daughter asks to be saved from the blazing house by being "wrapped in a pair of sheets and thrown over the wall", where she is impaled on the point of Gordon's sword.

And Gordon turned her ower and ower, and oh, her face was white.
"I might have spared that bonnie face to be some man's delight".

And Gordon turned her ower and ower, and oh, her face was wan.
He said, "You are the first I've slain I wished alive again".

Oh woe be to the castle that was built with stone and lime,
And woe be to Lady Campbell herself who was burned with her children nine.

Three of them were married wives, and three of them were bairns,
And three of them were leal maidens who ne'er lay in men's arms.

MacColl said that after that the ballad fell into place; "the waste, the bloody waste of human life - that's what these ballads are all about".

For me, the songs that invoke sadness tend to be the modern compositions: MacColl's 'Ballad of Sharpville", Dallas's 'Tim Evans' and 'Julian Grimeau', Don Lange's 'Allende's Song', Pete Smith's 'Clayton Aniline', all 'murder ballads' in their own way, though the sadness is usually tinged with anger.
As several people have already said, thanks for a thought-provoking question,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto
Date: 14 Aug 08 - 01:12 AM

Sorry if I misinterpreted your meaning. I thought you were saying you didn't believe me. This is the first time I have been on any kind of thread before. Well I had a few on the Chet Atkins chetboard thing so I apologize for being well....:) I have been told stories by alot of older people about the sin eaters. After a person died they would place small cakes (I always envisioned cup cakes or something like it),Cookies and other things like bread on the body of the deceased. A person normally of high ranking in the church would enter the house (where the body traditionally spent it's last night before burial) and would say a prayer and the eat the cakes,cookies,or whatever off of the clothing of the deceased. This was to symbolize the destruction of the sins before entering heaven. The person that was sitting with the dead would then enter the room and spend the night with the deceased. The sin eater would not be able to get the person into heaven by eating the sin cakes it was just part of a ritualistic prayer. I don't recall anyone saying that a sin would be forgiven because of the sin eater's action or saying someone would not get to heaven because a sin eater didn't eat thier sins. It was part of an archaic ritual that is (as far as I know) not performed anymore. There are all kind of debates about religious practices around here. Snake handlers are one that everyone seems to know about. It says in the Bible if you are one with God you can drink poison and it will not harm you and handle venomous serpents and they will not hurt you (paraphrased of course). So they drink stricnine ( man I am not sure how you spell that) and handle Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. You have Pentecostal and Holliness chuches that believe in speaking in tongues. Jesus sent his disciples into foriegn lands and gave them the gift of toungues to communicate. Well they believe that "tongues" is the language of God you recieve it when you are "filled with the holy ghost" or "slain in the spirit". I helped a few times with a program called "The Mountain Mission." We gathered clothes and sent up to Eastern Kentucky for the poor. We had all used clothing returned to us because they were used. I was confused as to why I knew they needed them. We were told that (the area they were sent I don't want to step on anybody's toes here) the people did not want them. They thought that the people that wore the clothes were sinners and the sins and demons would be attached to the clothing. From then on we could only accept new clothing. There are some odd practices in appalchia. Part of what makes the folk music so pure is the same thing that puzzles us about the people. In parts they are unchanged and uninfluenced by external factors.


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