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Songs about capital punishment.

Charley Noble 21 Feb 05 - 03:41 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Bonnie 21 Feb 05 - 05:08 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Feb 05 - 04:00 PM
erinmaidin 22 Feb 05 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Frank 22 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM
markpde 28 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM
Joe_F 28 Dec 07 - 08:57 PM
Stringsinger 29 Dec 07 - 12:54 PM
Rog Peek 29 Dec 07 - 02:25 PM
Big Al Whittle 31 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM
Owen Woodson 31 Dec 11 - 03:08 PM
Stringsinger 31 Dec 11 - 03:11 PM
Mark Ross 31 Dec 11 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 31 Dec 11 - 06:19 PM
Max Johnson 01 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jan 12 - 12:26 PM
Owen Woodson 01 Jan 12 - 02:57 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,AEOLA 02 Jan 12 - 12:45 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:04 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jan 12 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Morgana 02 Jan 12 - 06:33 PM
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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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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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