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Author: Subject: Murder ballads?

Extreme Peach





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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 04:19 PM
That's what one of my best friends calls 'em...I'm listening to Down By the River. One of my favorite guitar solos in the world. Is that Danny Whitten with Neil?

Another great one is Hey Joe, of course. Both those songs make you think you can almost understand...Delia by Johnny Cash comes to mind...seems like they're all about shootings, aren't they? Nobody writes a song about stabbing somebody.

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 05:24 PM
That is indeed Danny Whitten with the original Crazy Horse-in my opinion, the Crazy Horse that Neil Young had in mind probably never was fully realized due to Whitten's overdose. But looking at the other end of it, NY may also not have gone through Time Fades Away, Tonight's the Night, & On the Beach.

Frankie & Johnny is also a classic-but this one has the woman catching the man.

Ever hear Tom Waits' Tom Traubert's Blues? And Charlie Patton was allegedly slashed in the throat.

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 05:29 PM
Good thread. My son & I were just talking about this subject...murder in songs...the other night. Two more that come to mind are Johnny Cash's Cocaine Blues & another very similar storyline, Little Sadie, covered by many bluegrassers. These two are almost the same song, the same theme anyway.

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 06:28 PM
quote:
my personal favorite -- Me & My Uncle

"Now I love those cowboys, I love their gold
I love my uncle, God rest his soul
Taught me good, Lord, taught me all I know
Taught me so well, I grabbed that gold
And I left his dead ass there by the side of the road"

that's just badass...


It was nice sitting with you at the show on the 18th, great show huh?

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 06:30 PM
Crow Jane, recently covered on the new DTB album

The Ballad of Hollis Brown- B.Dylan (awesome acoustic version wi/Warren on Kevn Kinney's "The Flower & The Knife" album)

King's Hwy & Glory Rd.- Warren has covered

great thread

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 06:34 PM
I was just thinking about Hollis Brown. I named a foster basset after that song. Also thought of Lyle Lovett's Old Friend by Your Side (or whatver it's called). Robert Cray's Smokin Gun...what else? I know there's more.

And, no, never heard the Tom Waits', I'll put it on my list

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 06:40 PM
Let's not forget Funeral for a Friend by Elton John which, I believe, is about the playboy playmate murdered by her ex husband - played excellently by Eric Roberts in Star '80.
 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 06:58 PM
"Murder" by David Gilmour, regarding the assassination of John Lennon. Great song.
 
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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 07:05 PM
"Pretty Polly," "Knoxville Girl," and another bluegrass or stringband standard where the guy takes a stick and bashes the girl's head in for no apparent reason. Derek From Cincinatti could probably name a couple a hundred.

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 07:22 PM
Blues Image(?)-Murder in my eye for the Judge
Boomtown Rats-I Don't Like Mondays
Dixie Chucks -Earl
Aerosmith-Janie Got a Gun

Now, are there any power ballads about murder

Cheers

Carlos "Stones' Undercover of the Night count as a murder ballad?" Rivera

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 07:31 PM
"Murder By Numbers" by The Police.

Once that you've decided on a killing
First you make a stone of your heart
And if you find that your hands are still willing
Then you can turn a murder into art

There really isn't any need for bloodshed
You just do it with a little more finesse
If you can slip a tablet into someone's coffee
Then it avoids an awful lot of mess

It's murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your ABC
Murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your ABC

Now if you have a taste for this experience
And you're flushed with your very first success
Then you must try a twosome or a threesome
And you'll find your conscience bothers you much less

Because murder is like anything you take to
It's a habit-forming need for more and more
You can bump off every member of your family
And anybody else you find a bore

Because it's murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your ABC
Murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your ABC

Now you can join the ranks of the illustrious
In history's great dark hall of fame
All our greatest killers were industrious
At least the ones that we all know by name

But you can reach the top of your profession
If you become the leader of the land
For murder is the sport of the elected
And you don't need to lift a finger of your hand

Because it's murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your ABC
Murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your A B C D E

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 08:52 PM
I used to Love Her - GnR

I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I had to put her
Six feet under
And I can still hear her complain


I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I knew I miss her
So I had to keep her
She's buried right in my back yard


I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I used to love her, but I had to kill her
She bitched so much
She drove me nuts
And now I'm happier this way


I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I had to put her
Six feet under
And I can still hear her complain

 

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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 08:53 PM
Excitable Boy

(Warren Zevon & LeRoy P. Marinell)

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

He took little Suzie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy
After ten long years they let him out of the home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/29/2006 at 11:45 PM
quote:
Let's not forget Funeral for a Friend by Elton John which, I believe, is about the playboy playmate murdered by her ex husband - played excellently by Eric Roberts in Star '80.


No it wasn't. That song was written well before Dorothy Stratten's murder.

Doug

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 12:24 AM
While I am thinking of Neil Young, there is also the violent, violent 'Revolution Blues". Really odd song, especially on an album such as "On the Beach". Not a ballad per say, but the Manson-esque lyrics are bizarre-heard they had met before things really got out of hand.

Another one that came to mind is "Alabama" by Coltrane.

"Strange Fruit" is another one-pretty haunting songs here.

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 12:32 AM
quote:
Blues Image(?)-Murder in my eye for the Judge


perhaps you are thinking of "murder in my heart for the judge" by moby grape?

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 12:38 AM
Never really paid attention to the words in Zevon's "Excitable Boy". Thanks for posting them...

Strange Fruit, doesn't get more haunting then that.....

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 12:44 AM
quote:
That's what one of my best friends calls 'em...I'm listening to Down By the River.


a long time ago i heard that the meaning of the song "down by the river" is not literally about killing someone but about a guy shooting up heroin - his baby being the drug. gives a whole new insight into the song does'nt it?

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 12:44 AM
Murder Incorporated by Bruce Springsteen

"bobby's got a gun that he keeps beneath his pillow..
Out on the streets your chances are zero"

sad but true..

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 02:21 AM
Ringo

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 02:34 AM
"I'm Gonna Murder My Baby" by Bluesman Pat Hare.
Years after writing and recording that song, Pat hare murdered his woman and died in prison.

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 03:44 AM
We can share the women, we can share the wine.
We can share what we got of yours ícause we done shared all of mine.
Keep on rolliní, just a mile to go;
Keep on rolliní my old buddy, youíre moviní much too slow.

I just jumped the watchman, right outside the fence.
Took his rings, four bucks in change, ainít that heaven sent?
Hurts my ears to listen, shannon, burns my eyes to see;
Cut down a man in cold blood, shannon, might as well been me.

We used to play for silver, now we play for life;
And oneís for sport and oneís for blood at the point of a knife.
And now the die is shaken, now the die must fall.
There ainít a winner in the game, he donít go home with all.
Not with all.

Leaviní texas, fourth day of july,
Sun so hot, the clouds so low, the eagles filled the sky.
Catch the detroit lightniní out of sante fe,
The great northern out of cheyenne, from sea to shining sea.

Gotta go to tulsa, first train we can ride.
Gotta settle one old score, one small point of pride.
There ainít a place a man can hide, shannon will keep him from the sun
Ainít a bed can give us rest now, you keep us on the run.

Jack straw from wichita cut his buddy down,
And dug for him a shallow grave and laid his body down.
Half a mile from tucson, by the morning light,
One man gone and another to go, my old buddy youíre moving much too slow.

We can share the women, we can share the wine.

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 08:24 AM
Yep, Moby....I murderized the group and title

 

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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 11:15 AM
quote:
"I'm Gonna Murder My Baby" by Bluesman Pat Hare.
Years after writing and recording that song, Pat hare murdered his woman and died in prison.



I guess she couldn't take a hint...

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/30/2006 at 12:29 PM
quote:
"Pretty Polly," "Knoxville Girl," and another bluegrass or stringband standard where the guy takes a stick and bashes the girl's head in for no apparent reason. Derek From Cincinatti could probably name a couple a hundred.


Charlesinator and Smokinpop, you beat me to it. Yes, murder balads have been a mainstay in bluegrass and old-time music from the start, going back to the mid-1800's when the first versions of "Tom Dooley" appeared. It is a song based on the true story of Wilkes County, North Carolina fiddler named Tom Dula who was hanged for stabbing his girlfriend Laura Foster in 1866. The legendary Doc Watson sings a version of the song (go and see this American music treasure, who is 82 now, while he is still alive. Merlefest at the end of April would be the perfect place to do so) because his family lived near the area and his great grandpa knew the Dula family. More to the story,

quote:
The Songs of Doc Watson, New York, NY, 1971, p. 20

DOC WATSON: In the 1860s, when this story takes place, my great-grandparents were neighbor's of Tom Dooley's family, and my grandparents, when they were just children, knew Tom's parents. As the story goes, Tom Dooley was not guilty of the murder of Laura Foster, although he was an accomplice in covering up the crime. Instead of the "eternal triangle" mentioned in the Kingston Trio's version, it was a quadrangle sort of thing. There were two men and two women involved in the whole affair. Mr. Grayson, the sheriff, had courted both Miss Laura Foster and Miss Annie Melton, as had Tom Dooley. Almost everyone around affirmed that Annie Melton had stuck the knife in Miss Laura's ribs and then hit her over the head. Tom Dooley, however, actually buried the girl, making himself an accomplice. Annie Melton was with Tom at Laura's burial, so she, too, was strongly suspected and was jailed. While in jail she bragged and told everyone that her neck was too pretty to put a rope around and that they'd never hang her. Of course, they never did.
Sheriff Grayson had quite a crush on Annie Melton, and he later married her. Near the end of her life Annie became very ill, and on her deathbed she called her husband in and told him something that seemed to really crush his spirit and reason for living. What Miss Annie told her husband was what she had told the neighborhood women -- that she had actually murdered Laura Foster and had let Tom Dooley go to the gallows without saying one word on his behalf. Grayson was so upset that he took his remaining family and moved completely out of this part of North Carolina and went over the edge of Tennessee, which was just being settled.

The murder of Laura Foster happened just at the end of the Civil War, and Tom Dooley, I believe, had been a hero during the war. Dooley was the kind of guy who grows up very quickly; at the age of fourteen, he was the size of a grown man. He went into the Civil War lying about his age and came back a hero. He was an unthinkably good old-time fiddler, and many people think that the original version, which I learned from my grandmother, has such a lilting, happy-sounding tune because the composer had tried his or her best to get into the song a little of Tom Dooley's personality as a fiddler.




quote:
Liner notes for "DOC WATSON," Deep Gap, NC, 1964.


RALPH RINZLER: The murder of Laura Foster (January 1866) was committed a few miles from Doc's home. More than sixty years later, Doc, as a young boy, sat by the fireside at home and listened to heated discussions about the case.
Tom Dula was described to Doc as having been a handsome young man in his early twenties at the time of the murder. Local legend tells that both Laura Foster and Annie Melton were in love with Tom, and further that Sheriff Grayson, the man who took him in custody and also drove the horses from beneath him when he was hanged, was jealous of Tom. Some believe that he either committed the murder or helped Ann Melton who is reputed to have murdered Laura Foster out of jealousy. Around Doc's home, there was great sympathy for Tom. Local people who remembered the principals in that case described Laura Foster as "very beautiful... with chestnut curls and merry blue eyes... wild as a buck." (Brown, "North Carolina Folklore" Vol II). An old man from Wilkes County, N. C. said: "Ann Melton was the purtiest woman I ever looked in the face of. She'd a-been hung too, but her neck was jist too purty to stretch hemp. She was guilty, I knowed hit... 'Ef they'd a-been ary womern on the jury, she'd a-got first degree. Men couldn't look at the womern and keep their heads." (Brown ibid.). Two years after the murder, Ann was tried and acquitted. Tom had been hanged refusing to implicate her in any way.

Doc's great-grandmother, Betsy Triplett Watson, was called to Annie Melton's death bed and said she was told: "If I knew I would never get well again, there is something I would tell you about Tom's hanging." Doc's cousin, Ora Watson, and Rosa Lee both tell that great-granny Betsy (she is also Rosa Lee's great-grandmother) heard sounds around Annie's bed when she was dying: sounds like those of red hot rocks being dropped in a bucket of cold water. Ann Melton was said to have told Betsy Watson that she could see the flames of Hell at the foot of her bed.

Grannie Lottie Watson (married to Betsy's son, Smith Watson) used to sing the ballad in much the same version that Doc sings here. The version popularized by The Kingston Trio was based on the singing of Frank Proffitt who lives a few minutes ride down the road from Doc.






[Edited on 3/30/2006 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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