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Songs about capital punishment.

GUEST,Morgana 02 Jan 12 - 06:33 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jan 12 - 01:26 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,AEOLA 02 Jan 12 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 05:47 AM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 05:05 PM
Owen Woodson 01 Jan 12 - 02:57 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jan 12 - 12:26 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM
Max Johnson 01 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 31 Dec 11 - 06:19 PM
Mark Ross 31 Dec 11 - 03:45 PM
Stringsinger 31 Dec 11 - 03:11 PM
Owen Woodson 31 Dec 11 - 03:08 PM
Big Al Whittle 31 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM
Rog Peek 29 Dec 07 - 02:25 PM
Stringsinger 29 Dec 07 - 12:54 PM
Joe_F 28 Dec 07 - 08:57 PM
markpde 28 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Frank 22 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM
erinmaidin 22 Feb 05 - 04:04 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Feb 05 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,Bonnie 21 Feb 05 - 05:08 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM
Charley Noble 21 Feb 05 - 03:41 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 02:27 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 02:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 Feb 05 - 01:19 PM
pavane 21 Feb 05 - 11:31 AM
Clifton53 21 Feb 05 - 10:06 AM
goodbar 21 Feb 05 - 02:43 AM
Peace 20 Feb 05 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,lengeft 20 Feb 05 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 20 Aug 04 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Gibson 19 Aug 04 - 03:46 PM
The Shambles 02 Sep 03 - 05:44 AM
GUEST 02 Sep 03 - 02:24 AM
The Shambles 02 Aug 03 - 03:04 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 01 Aug 03 - 07:51 PM
Gareth 01 Aug 03 - 04:33 PM
Nigel Parsons 01 Aug 03 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,Sara 01 Aug 03 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,Mary Ann 01 Aug 03 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Mary Ann 01 Aug 03 - 02:52 PM
GUEST 01 Aug 03 - 11:49 AM
Red and White Rabbit 01 Aug 03 - 09:24 AM
HuwG 01 Aug 03 - 01:14 AM
toadfrog 31 Jul 03 - 07:46 PM
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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Morgana
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 06:33 PM

There is a song called "Poor Boy," which deals with a fight between a woman's two lovers. At the end, the narrator kills his rival, but must hang.

"And yet they call this 'justice' poor boy,
then justice let it be.
I only killed a man that was
a-fixin' to kill me."

I assume this is traditional. I think it has a couple different versions.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 01:26 PM

Okay, who wrote this?

Hang 'Em High

(Essential for any harmonica player's repertoire, I think).

That video credits it to Dominic Frontiere. So does his Wikipedia page. Other sources credit it to Hugo Montenegro. My guess is that Montenegro just did an arrangement, is that right?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM

I'll check Leader for ballads of György Dózsa as soon as I get the time.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 01:04 PM

Jack, there is indeed a reference to László Fehér in this thread, but I can't see any text previous to the one I posted.

In any event, thanks for reminding me of the Encyclopaedia of Hungarian Ethnology and Folklore. I Picked a copy up in a charity shop once for Ł4-00, which was amazingly cheap considering the size of the thing and the weightiness of the content.

There's also Ninon Leader's book on Hungarian Folk Ballads of course, which I'm almost certain contains a study of LF.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,AEOLA
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 12:45 PM

There is a light hearted song loosely connected to CP called ' ROUGH JUSTICE' by His Worship & The Pig and as someone mentioned earlier it is in support of CP!!


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,999
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 06:02 AM

From Tom Paxton's song, 'What Did You Learn in School Today?':

I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make a mistake sometimes


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,999
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 05:47 AM

Mark Ross: I'd guess the song was Death Row.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 05:05 PM

Owen we have already had László Fehér (spelt more accurately) upthread.

very long version

Another Hungarian one is György Dózsa:

Executed Today

from a site that has a lot of execution folklore. There must be ballads about Dózsa but I haven't heard or read one.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 02:57 PM

"A bit of googling suggests there are possibly hundreds of Balkan ballads (mostly from Serbia) about people being impaled on stakes up the bum".

Can't say I've ever come across any impaling ballads, but there are quite a few Bulgarian ballads about people being interred inside walls for various misdemeanours.

Then of course there's that very fine Hungarian ballad, Laszlo Thea, about a girl (Anna Theya), who agrees to sleep with a judge if he'll set her brother free.

Laszlo Thea stole a stallion,
Stole him from the Misty Mountain.
And they sought him they caught him.
And in iron chains they bound him

Word was brought to Anna Thea,
That her brother lay in prison.
Bring me gold and six white horses.
I will buy my brother's freedom.

Judge, oh judge, please spare my brother.
I will give you gold and silver.
I don't want your gold and silver.
All I want is your sweet favour.

Anna Thea, oh my sister,
Are you mad with grief and sorrow?
He will rob you of your flower,
And he'll hang me from the gallows.

Anna Thea did not heed him,
To that judge she came a-running.
In his golden bed at midnight,
There she heard the gallows groaning

Anna Thea, Anna Thea.
Do not go into the forest.
There among the green pines standing.
You will find your brother hanging.

Cursed be that judge so cruel.
Thirteen years may he lie bleeding.
Thirteen doctors can't heal him.
Thirteen shelves of drugs can't heal him.

Laszlo Thea stole a stallion.
Stole him from the Misty Mountains.
And they sought him and they caught him
And they hung him from the gallows.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 12:26 PM

Yup and i bet Serbia's answer to Martin Carthy knows all of them.

Oh I am a merry spikeman
And you can call me Seamus
Oh how I like, to get a spike
And shove it up your anus.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM

A bit of googling suggests there are possibly hundreds of Balkan ballads (mostly from Serbia) about people being impaled on stakes up the bum.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Max Johnson
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM

Threadbare Consort recorded the 'The Scaffold' on 'Wearing Thin' album.

'Hark to the clinking of hammers, hark to the driving of nails.
Men are erecting a gallows in one of Her Majesty's gaols.
A life - a man's life to be taken, which the Crown and the hangman hail.
And men are erecting a scaffold in one of Her Majesty's gaols.'

later...

'His strong frame in agony quivers. His breast, how wildly it heaves.
His arms closely are pinioned. The Hangman himself almost screams...'

Phew! Strong stuff.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 06:19 PM

Well, there's these.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Mark Ross
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 03:45 PM

When I was in summer camp (in the Jurassic Age), one of my counselors sang a song about Caryl Chessman, to the tune of MacColl's TIM EVANS. Anyone else know it? I think I remember seeing it in SingOut! years later.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 03:11 PM

Ewan McColl's "Go Down Ye Murderers"


The Ballad of Tim Evans
(Ewan MacColl)

Tim Evans was a prisoner,
Fast in his prison cell
And those who read about his crimes,
They damned his soul to hell,
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

For the murder of his own dear wife
And the killing of his own child
The jury found him guilty
And the hangin' judge, he smiled.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

Tim Evans pleaded innocent
And he swore by Him on high,
That he never killed his own dear wife
Nor caused his child to die.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

The governor came in one day
And the chaplain by his side,
Said, "Your appeal has been turned down,
Prepare yourself to die."
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They moved him out of C-block
To his final flowery dell,
And day and night two screws were there
And they never left his cell.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

Sometimes they played draughts with him
And solo and pontoon,
To stop him brooding on the rope
That was to be his doom.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They brought his grub in on a tray,
There was eggs and meat and ham,
And all the snout that he could smoke
Was there at his command.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

Tim Evans walked in the prison yard
And the screws, they walked behind;
And he saw the sky above the wall
But he knew no peace of mind.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They came for him at eight o'clock
And the chaplain read a prayer
And then they marched him to that place
Where the hangman did prepare.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

The rope was fixed around his neck
And a washer behind his ear.
The prison bell was tolling
But Tim Evans did not hear.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

A thousand lags were cursing
And a-banging on the doors;
But Evans couldn't hear them,
He was deaf for ever more.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They sent Tim Evans to the drop
For a crime he did not do.
It was Christy was the murderer
And the judge and jury too.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderers, go down."


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 03:08 PM

Rog Peek's attribution of the authorship of Derek Bentley to Ewan MacColl has been on this thread for several years. However, I have only just seen it. The author was Karl Dallas, not Ewan MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM

my effort

http://www.bigalwhittle.co.uk/id59.html


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Subject: RE: ADD Lyrics: DEREK BENTLEY (Ewan McColl)
From: Rog Peek
Date: 29 Dec 07 - 02:25 PM

DEREK BENTLEY
(Ewan McColl)

It's of a great adventure, to you that I will tell,
Of how they hanged a half-grown lad and how it all befell.

Chorus
It was guns and comics, films of war that made his education.

Young Craig and Derek Bentley, they went out in the night,
With gun and knuckleduster just for to see them right.

Chorus
They climbed upon the roof so high and then looked all around
And there they saw the men of law all gathered on the ground.

Chorus
"Look out, we're caught" young Bentley cried, "our robbin' days are done"
"I'll see no prison" Craig replied, "while I've still got my gun".

Chorus
He stood upon the roof so high and he looked all around
And shouted to them, men of law, all gathered on the ground.

Chorus
"Stay down and stay alive" he cried, "keep clear of me" he said.
"Come up that stair another step and you'll go down it dead".

Chorus
He was just a half-grown frightened lad who couldn't read or write,
But standing there with gun in hand he terrorised the night.

Chorus
The men came up to take him down, he pressed the trigger tight,
He shot the first one dead and then jumped down into the night.

Chorus
Young Craig he was a killer, for he shot the p'liceman dead,
But he was just too young to hang, the magistrates they said.

Chorus
At nine o'clock one Wednesday, they took young Bentley out,
And made a noose of hemp and rope and put it round his throat.

Chorus
It's true as you have often heard, that in this land today,
They hang the little criminals and let the big go free.

Notes:
On 28th January Derek Bentley was hanged for his part in the murder of Police constable Sidney Miles during an attempted robbery. Derek Bentley whose accomplice Chistopher Craig shot and killed PC Miles was granted a pardon by the court of appeal on 30th July 1998. At the time of the trial, Craig had been under 18 and therefore too young to be hanged.
RPdec07


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Dec 07 - 12:54 PM

"This time tomorrow, reckon where I'll be?
Down in some lonesome valley,
Hangin' from a white oak tree.....(Tom Dooley)

"I saw my Molly in the crowd, in the crowd
I saw my Molly in the crowd, in the crowd.
I saw my Molly in the crowd, in the crowd
And I hollered right out loud,
Molly ain't you proud, god damn your eyes."

"And the preacher he did come, he did come.
And the preacher he did come, he did come.
And the preacher he did come, he did come,
And he looked so bloody glum,
He can kiss my ruddy bum, god damn his eyes." (Sam Hall)

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Joe_F
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 08:57 PM

I think my favorites are the "no regrets" songs: Sam Hall and (mentioned once above) The Night before Larry Was Stretched, which explores one advantage of capital punishment: you can be at your own wake.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: markpde
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM

Just signed up to Mudcat. This thread seems to have run out in 2005, so there may be no-one to read this, but anyway...

I found Mudcat by asking Google for "The Easter Tree". I heard it on June Tabor's Ashes and Diamonds album, but the cassette tape broke years ago (halfway through the marvellous 'No Man's Land' - aargh!!! - although I've since found that on her 'Greatest Hits' CD) and I had to rewind it into a blank cassette; I've long since lost the cassette's box, so for all those years I thought it was just 'traditional', the writer being 'Anon' (I now know that it was Dave Goulder). It's an unswervingly grim song (given the subject matter, that's inevitable), but I've always thought it was one of the finest songs ever written.

Just to lighten up (!), an English poet called John Cooper Clarke (aka The Bard of Salford) wrote a poem about hanging in the seventies. I recorded it off John Peel's Radio 1 Show away back then and no longer have the cassette, so this is from memory. His poems were set to music, although he never actually sang (presumably because he couldn't), so they may not even qualify as songs (I might get kicked off this forum before I've even got started).

Can't quite remember all of the first verse, but the jist of it is that the writer is bored with the news in the papers and decides to "sit right down and write a letter to the Sun*, saying, "Bring back hanging... for everyone."

*for those who don't know, a trashy tabloid newspaper in the UK, notorious for headlines such as, on the sinking of the Argentine warship The General Belgrano, in the Falklands War, GOTCHA! and, after a pit lane fire (horrifying but miraculously inconsequential) involving a Benneton Formula 1 car, THE IGNITED COLORS OF BENNETON...

So, the second verse goes:

They took my advice, they brought it back
National costume was all-over black
There were corpses in the avenues and cul-de-sacs
Piled up neatly in six man stacks
Hanging from the traffic lights in specially made racks
They'd hang you for incontinence or fiddling your tax
Failure to hang yourself justified the axe
A-deedly-dee, a-deedly-dum
Looks like they've brought back hanging... for everyone

Then it turns sour...

The novelty's gone; it's hell
This place is a death cell
The constant clang of the funeral bells
Those who aren't hanging are hanging someone else
The people pay, the paper sells
Its plug-ugly, sub-animal yells
Death is unsightly; death smells
Swinging Britain? Don't put me on
Looks like they've brought back the rope... for everyone

At the end, the writer is heard (presumably) being dragged away to his execution, vociferously protesting his innocence: "I didn't break your window!!!..."

Oh, and the poem/song (whatever) was called, "Suspended Sentence"...


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM

Roger, good song! I too would like to hear the tune. Let us know.

Great thread. There is the traditional "Hangman, Slack your Rope" . Hanging is a kind of capital punishment. "Strange Fruit" would fall into that category IMHO.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: erinmaidin
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 04:04 PM

There was an album released shortly after the movie "Dead Man Walking" which features some very good songs pertaining to the subject of capital punishment. One that comes to mind and is very haunting is Steve Earle's "Ellis Unit One".


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 04:00 PM

no one gets topped in the version of black velvet band that I sang for many years and still do when the drunken occasion demands.

and yes its a different song to the long black veil. just the black in the titles unites these two great songs - as far as I know.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Bonnie
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 05:08 PM

No one seems to have mentioned "Long Black Veil" which Johnny Cash once sang. Another one is "Black Velvet Band" which is not only about capital punishment but also betrayal by a woman.

Or are those one and the same?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM

And of course Laszlo Feher has a rape(Forced seduction) AND a hanging for horse stealing !


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 03:41 PM

I really did sift through this entire thread, gang, but I don't think anyone has mentioned the old sea shanty "They Calls Me Hanging Johney."

Of course, he sometimes admits in the last verse that "he never hanged nobody."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 02:27 PM

And 100 by the way !


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 02:26 PM

Strange Fruit is strictly speaking NOT a capital Punishment song as it is in fact about Lynching !!


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 01:19 PM

no I don't believe in capital punishment - not even for someone like Ian Huntley (murderer of two small children). For one thing I have never been tempted to kill children or wanted sex with children. I don't feel its a feather in my cap that I resisted a temptation that I never felt.

My feeling is that we should be trying to work out why we are producing so many sociopaths and psychopaths. why for example should a young apparently handsome, employable person like Ted Bundy end up as Jack the Ripper. I can't understand it at all.

How have we evolved a society where someone would choose to become a somebody by shooting John Lennon - rather than enjoy a relatively affluent life in one of the richest countries in the world. How have we got to this situation where our children perceive shooting up their high school as an alternative career opporunity - rejecting what society has to offer.

I don't buy the line that George Bush is the moral inferior of Saddam Hussein - not for a minute, but I do feel this. Americans have no idea just how much our young people look up their society as a moral example. This is because your culture is everywhere on the globe. When America has recourse to capital punishment, they are letting the side down. they are doing a bad thing, and it makes it more difficult to say to OUR young children, nothing is achieved by violence.

Here is my effort on the subject when I was in a duo called sacre bleu, the band didn't last much longer than the cd - if anybody wants one I'll be happy to mail them oneif they pm me.

How Do They Sleep Tonight?

How are they sleeping tonight along that old death row
are they waiting on each dawn light
as their precious minutes go
Does each heart twist in a knot of fear
For the darkness is coming down - coming down slow
How do they sleep tonight along death row

How can your heart conceive of a judge saying you must die
All those salaried suits with their law degrees listing the reasons why
Your heart must stop, like a broken clock
You must bid the light goodbye
How do they sleep tonight along death row

                                
Tell me now, tell me how, tell me now sweet Jesus
How could you let this be
Are your minds so closed and your hearts so cruel
In the home of the brave and the free

How do you feel on a day when they're taking the next man down
times he spoke with you
and you were glad of a voices sound
Will you cry, will you scream, will you struggle, will you fight
Or does it always pay to be polite
How do they sleep tonight along death row
                
Tell me now, tell me how, tell me now sweet Jesus
How could you let this be
Are your minds so closed and your hearts so cruel
In the home of the brave and the free

The crown of thorns, and the nails and the tree
and its all paid for by you and me and
                        
Tell me now, tell me how, tell me now sweet Jesus
How could you let this be
Are your minds so closed and your hearts so cruel
In the home of the brave and the free


© 1999 Alan Whittle and David Forbes


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: pavane
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 11:31 AM

Just for the sake of completeness..

No-one seems to have mentioned 'The (new) Deserter' in which the deserter is sentenced to be shot (and reprieved by the King/Prince Albert/General etc).


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Clifton53
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 10:06 AM

Another by Marty Robbins, and also from the perspective of the hangee was called 'They're Hangin' Me Tonight'.

'Alone within my cell tonight, my heart is filled with fear,
   The only sound within the room is the falling of each tear,
   I think about the thing I've done, I know it wasn't right,
   They'll bury Flo tomorrow but they're hangin' me tonight,
    They're hangin' me tonight'.

Marty's voice was perfect for it.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: goodbar
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 02:43 AM

dylan's 'i shall be released'. tom robinson band did a great cover of it too.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Peace
Date: 20 Feb 05 - 09:12 PM

Here ya go.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,lengeft
Date: 20 Feb 05 - 06:55 PM

I have been looking for the lyrics to "Come O My Love". This song haunts me from my childhood. Does anyone else remember...?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 20 Aug 04 - 12:44 PM

Someone mentioned James Hanratty. Sad case - Hanratty almost certainly had severe learning difficulties. However, recent forensic investigation has canfirmed that he did it and one of his victims has for the last 40 years had severe walking difficulties, having been confined to a wheelchair. Perhaps Steve Earle should write her a song.

I've always been against the death penalty because of it's finality and the fact that you can't ever begin to rectify miscarriages of justice involving human life. However, as a parent I would have no problem seeing someone like Ian Huntley hang as long as I could be certain of his guilt.

I believe in a right to life - but is it not the case that adults are capable of forfeiting rights through their actions?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Gibson
Date: 19 Aug 04 - 03:46 PM

"I'm Not The Man" -- 10,000 Maniacs. Excellent.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 05:44 AM

http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/deadmanwalking/deadmanwalking.htm


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:24 AM

anyone mention Bruce Springsteen's "Dead man walkin?"


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Aug 03 - 03:04 AM

Interesting that in this thread we have anti capital punishment songs and songs that largely treat the reality of it as fact - but we don't seem to have many songs written in favour of capital punishment......


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 07:51 PM

Red & White Rabbit, the post about the Pakistan case is more than three years old, so presumably the guy's fate was long-since settled, one way or another. (If guest Pamela ever revisits this thread, I'm somewhat curious about why she revived it. I suspect she was intending to post to a different thread.)

Even three years on, it's worth pointing out that the last line of the verse quoted by McGrath from the Ballad of Reading Gaol should be: "For weal or woe again." Not McG's error: the link he provided (still live) goes to a version littered with one-word errors and more than one instance of entire phrases being wrong.

I've been known to recite this whole ballad from memory (it takes about 48 minutes) but much as I go along with the message, I reckon it's a fairly clumsy offering by Oscar's standards. I think it's the only time he allowed raw emotions to creep into anything he wrote for public consumption, and he doesn't seem comfortable in that mode. The poem was part of his response to being urged by a prison reformer (Haldane) to write about his experiences. The other part - two letters published in the Chronicle - was the better work.

If McG finds the ballad powerful (it certainly has moments of genius) he might like to look at relevant verses from Housman's "A Shropshire Lad" which for my money are much more effective. Despite clear parallels, I always refused to accept the logic that Housman's verses influenced Wilde's. I rested my case on the fact that Housman's collection was not published until 1895, meaning Wilde was unlikely to have seen it before embarking for France. Then I discovered that Houseman had sent Wilde a pre-publication copy while Wilde was still in prison.....

Incidentally someone took Wilde to task on the point that the Royal Horse Guards tunic was blue, not red. Wilde conceded that "azure" would have worked just as well as "scarlet" in the first line, but pointed out that it would have made a mess of the second line.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Gareth
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 04:33 PM

Thanks Mary Ann - Your memory is better than mine !

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 04:12 PM

An old thread, still going strong, and I have seen no mention of "Oranges & Lemons", which seems to tell the tale of a fall from grace, starting off as a debtor "You owe me five farthings say the bells of St Martins" through "Old Bailey" to "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, and here comes a chopper to chop of your head"

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Sara
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 03:55 PM

The Foreman O'Rourke won the Reynold's News Folk Song competition in the 60s, but the judges ( including Peggy Seeger ) weren't allowed to print the lyrics, even though they thought it was the best song!


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Subject: Lyr Add: FOREMAN O'ROURKE (Matt McGinn)
From: GUEST,Mary Ann
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 03:51 PM

Foreman O'Rourke
Matt McGinn
Return of The Two Heided Man ( Relrecords )



Maybe I am right
Maybe I am wrong
Maybe I shouldn't go singing this song
But the jury decided
And you might as well
That a fella like me should be roasting in hell

Hooch aye, hooch till a fa'
Hooch aye, hooch till a dae

I had a gaffer
His name was O'Rourke
He had a terrible passion for work
In miles and in turns
He took all he could see
Though he never was greedy; he gied it tae me

Hooch aye, hooch till a fa'
Hooch aye, Hooch till a dae

One day in the work
I went roon for a smoke
The door it burst open and there stood O'Rourke
He started to swear
And he gied me his curse
He insulted my mother and that was far worse

Hooch aye, hooch till a fa
Hooch aye, hooch till a dae

He jumped for my throat
And it gied me a fright
I was quick on my feet and I stepped to the right
There was nothing could stop him
This terrible man
Till he landed feet up, wi' his heid in the pan

Hooch aye, hooch till a fa,
Hooch aye, hooch till a dae

I was trembling with fear
As his heid gave a thud
And I looked doon and saw that his clathes were all mud
Yet it wasnae his clathes
Was the worst o' his plight
For his heid was jammed in there; a sorrowful sight

Hooch aye, hooch till a fa
Hooch aye, hooch till a dae

In Barlinnie I wait
For the man tae come roon
That will open the door and let me drap doon
And I'll pray for O'Rourke
As they gie me the tug
For the hing me the morra, for pulling the plug

Hooch aye , hooch till a fa
Hooch aye, hooch till a dae


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG (Matt McGinn)
From: GUEST,Mary Ann
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 02:52 PM

The Man They Could Not Hang
TAKE ME BACK TO THE JUNGLE LP

BY MATT MCGINN

There was an old hangman in Exeter
And a fine old hangman was he
He had hanged a thousand or more
But he couldn't hang John Lee
John Lee !
No he couldn't hang John Lee

Emma Keyes of Abercombe was rich as rich can be
She had servants in her home
And one was Johhny Lee
John Lee !
And one was Johhny Lee

Johnny Lee was a bad, bad man
So the story said
So they threw him in the local can
When they found old Emma dead
So dead !
They found old Emma dead

The judge he listened to the cons
Then he heard the pros
And it was clear that Johnny Lee
Had fewer friends than foes
Than foes !
Had fewer friends than foes

There was an old hangman in Exeter
And a fine old hangman was he
He had hanged a thousand or more
But he couldn't hang John Lee
John Lee !
No he couldn't hang John Lee

The Judge picked up his old black cap
And he looked John in the eye
He said it falls on me to sentence thee
To be hanged until ye die
Ye die !
Hanged until ye die

James Berry was the hangman's name
And it filled his heart with glee
When they placed into his gentle hands
The prisoner Johhny Lee

He led him to the scaffold high
And then to John says he
"One last request I'll grant to you "
"Close your trap" says Johnny Lee
John Lee !
"Close your trap" says Johnny Lee

There was an old hangman in Exeter
And a fine old hangman was he
He had hanged a thousand or more
But he couldn't hang John Lee
John Lee !
No he couldn't hang John Lee


James Berry pulled the lever down
To send John Lee below
Then he began to curse and frown
When John Lee would not go
Not go !
When John Lee would not go

Again and then again he tried
Again and again he failed
Then word came down from London town
John Lee for a life in jail
In jail !
John Lee for a life in jail

There was an old hangman in Exeter
And a fine old hangman was he
He had hanged a thousand or more
But he couldn't hang John Lee
John Lee !
No he couldn't hang John Lee

T'was back in 1885 they tried to hang John Lee
In 1917 he sailed for far Americ-ee
Did he
For far Americ-ee
There he went and died in bed in 1933
Here lies the man they could not hang
And his name was Johnny Lee
John Lee !
And his name was Johnny Lee

CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 11:49 AM

Tha Hot Ashphalt.


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Subject: Lyr Add: RUTH ELLIS (Michael Raven)
From: Red and White Rabbit
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 09:24 AM

re the guy in Pakistans sentence to be executed publically - I have mixed feelings - I do have personal experience but I still dont believe in that - such punishment in my opinion glorifies the crime - a public spectacle - a bit like a side show at a fair. Now let victims have them in a room with no fear of punishment - that might be a different idea!

Has anyone mentioned Ruth Ellis - Michael Raven

Ruth Ellis is my name
Tomorrow I die
For shooting my true love
I cannot deny
For he did betray me and brought me to shame
Still no sound is sweeter than the sound of his name

ch.
So bury me deep neath the old willow tree
And let the green grass grow, grow over me
And you must not weep love and you must not cry
Tomorrow they hang me
Tomorrow I die

I came home one evening came by the back way
And there was my true love
with another he lay
My poor heart was broken my pistol I drew
With tears overflowing my true love I slew

ch.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: HuwG
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 01:14 AM

From Australia, Poor Ned, about Ned Kelly.

The Irish ditty mentioned by Tim Jacques, about sticking penknives into babies is Wella Wella.

Both in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: toadfrog
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 07:46 PM

Green are the Woods, on the DT as The Vance Song is as good a capital punishment song as Danny Deever, say. But note, songs from earlier than 1940 or so rarely make politica points about capital punishment generally.


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