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Songs about capital punishment.

GUEST,RA 15 Jun 24 - 04:19 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Jun 24 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,RA 15 Jun 24 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Jun 24 - 05:03 AM
Felipa 12 Jun 24 - 06:43 PM
Joe_F 10 Jun 24 - 10:34 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 08:11 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 08:04 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 08:02 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,James Phillips 07 Jun 24 - 07:17 PM
Felipa 05 Jun 24 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,guest 15 Dec 23 - 09:55 PM
Thompson 14 Dec 23 - 02:09 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Dec 23 - 10:03 AM
Thompson 14 Dec 23 - 04:31 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Dec 23 - 12:10 PM
Georgiansilver 13 Dec 23 - 07:54 AM
PHJim 13 Dec 23 - 06:30 AM
Felipa 10 Dec 23 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,Doodles 27 Jul 23 - 03:48 PM
Big Al Whittle 27 Jul 23 - 04:33 AM
GUEST,henryp 27 Jul 23 - 12:39 AM
GeoffLawes 26 Jul 23 - 07:38 PM
keberoxu 24 Mar 23 - 03:48 PM
GeoffLawes 21 Mar 23 - 05:15 PM
GUEST 20 Mar 23 - 12:24 PM
GUEST 20 Mar 23 - 08:24 AM
GUEST,henryp 20 Mar 23 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,henryp 20 Mar 23 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,RJM 20 Mar 23 - 03:39 AM
GUEST,henryp 20 Mar 23 - 12:10 AM
Felipa 05 Mar 23 - 08:05 PM
Dave the Gnome 28 Feb 23 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,henryp 28 Feb 23 - 06:56 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Feb 23 - 06:40 PM
robomatic 21 Feb 23 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Lang Johnnie More 21 Feb 23 - 05:11 PM
GUEST,henryp 20 Feb 23 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,henryp 20 Feb 23 - 10:19 PM
GerryM 19 Feb 23 - 11:21 PM
GUEST,henryp 19 Feb 23 - 10:24 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Feb 23 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,henryp 19 Feb 23 - 05:28 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Feb 23 - 06:23 AM
Felipa 15 Feb 23 - 05:21 PM
GeoffLawes 13 Feb 23 - 07:17 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Feb 23 - 05:49 PM
GeoffLawes 10 Feb 23 - 06:20 AM
RTim 09 Feb 23 - 10:27 PM
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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,RA
Date: 15 Jun 24 - 04:19 PM

Thanks. I should have checked the thread more thoroughly!


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Jun 24 - 03:16 PM

My song about Herbert Leonard Mills was about someone who pretty obviously 'did it'.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,RA
Date: 15 Jun 24 - 05:31 AM

From above: "Richard Rojem has always maintained his innocence. Three DNA tests fail to implicate him & the courts acknowledge his conviction is based on circumstantial evidence."

It's interesting that all of these anti-capital punishment songs are selective, in that they concern those on death row who profess their innocence. Are there any anti-capital punishment songs about the obviously guilty? Because surely being against the death penalty means being against it in ALL cases, not only in cases of innocence.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 Jun 24 - 05:03 AM

I heard Conor Connolly sing Frank Harte's version of Dunlavin Green yesterday. And he made a great job of it. That one would work here, the execution of 36 men, and all those songs about similar events.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Felipa
Date: 12 Jun 24 - 06:43 PM

song: "Don't Cry for Me" - Last Words of David Hosier
"David Hosier was executed on June 11, 2024 by the state of Missouri. He always maintained his innocence. During the live virtual vigil, musician & abolitionist Brandon Pfeiffer created a new song to close out the event." Death Penalty Action

See also my post of 5 June, sharing a song for Richard Rojem (Daiji), who still has a chance (execution, in Oklahoma, scheduled for 27 June; clemency hearing, 17 June)


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Joe_F
Date: 10 Jun 24 - 10:34 PM

One might mention Cole Porter's "Miss Otis regrets"; the lady escapes capital punishment by being lynched.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 24 - 08:11 PM

In this one, of which there are many versions, the protagonist is saved from the gallows at the last minute, by the intervention of his (or in some versions her) lover:

Oh, hangman, hangman, hold your horses, hold them for a while,
I think I see my mother’s face, come riding many a mile.”

“Did you come to bring me silver or gold or come to set me free?
Or did you come to see me hang beneath the gallows tree?”

“No, son, I didn’t you bring you silver or gold or come to set you free,
But I did come to see you hung beneath the gallows tree.”

“Oh, hangman, hangman, hold your horses, hold them for a while,
I thought I saw my father’s face, come riding many a mile.”

“Did you come to bring me silver or gold or come to set me free?
Or did you come to see me hang beneath the gallows tree?”

“Oh no, I didn’t you bring you silver or gold or come to set you free,
But I did come to see you hang beneath the gallows tree.”

“Oh, hangman, hangman, hold your horses, hold them for a while,
I thought I seen my brother’s face, come riding many a mile.”

“Did you come to bring me silver or gold or come to set me free?
Or did you come to see me hang beneath the gallows tree?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t you bring you silver or gold or come to set you free,
But I did come to see you hang beneath the gallows tree.”

“Hangman, hangman, hold your horses, hold them for a while,
I thought I see my sister’s face, come riding many a mile.”

“Did you come to bring me silver or gold or come to set me free?
Or did you come to see me hang beneath the gallows tree?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t you bring you silver or gold or come to set you free,
But I did come to see you hang beneath the gallows tree.”

“Oh, hangman, hangman, hold your horses, hold them for a while,
I think I see my true love’s face, come riding many a mile.”

“Did you come to bring me silver or gold or come to set me free?
Or did you come to see me hang beneath the gallows tree?”

“Oh, yes, I brought silver and gold and come to set you free,
For I could not bear to see you hang beneath the gallows tree.”


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 24 - 08:04 PM

Not strictly a folk song, but there is Rudyard Kipling's 'Danny Deever'.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 24 - 08:02 PM

Kevin Barry

In Mountjoy jail one Monday morning
High upon the gallows tree,
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty.
Just a lad of eighteen summers,[11]
Still there's no one can deny,
As he walked to death that morning,
He proudly held his head on high.


Just before he faced the hangman,
In his dreary prison cell,
British soldiers tortured Barry,
Just because he would not tell.
The names of his brave comrades,
And other things they wished to know.
Turn informer or we'll kill you
Kevin Barry answered "No".

Proudly standing to attention
While he bade his last farewell
To his broken hearted mother
Whose grief no one can tell.
For the cause he proudly cherished
This sad parting had to be
Then to death walked softly smiling
That old Ireland might be free.

Another martyr for old Ireland,
Another murder for the crown,
Whose brutal laws may kill the Irish,
But can't keep their spirit down.
Lads like Barry are no cowards.
From the foe they will not fly.
Lads like Barry will free Ireland,
For her sake they'll live and die.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 24 - 07:59 PM

Young Morgan (as sung by Martin Carthy)

Young Morgan he be caught at last
Her trials he is laying.
And isn’t it a pity that young man should die,
Out of this world is going?

Standing bold like John of Gaunt,
The world will soon admire
To see such a tall and swaggering blade
All in my rich attire.

Oh, such a tall and swaggering blade,
All out for gold and plunder,
With spirits cocked and courage bold
And a voice that’s loud like thunder.

After sweet meat there comes sour sauce
Which sets my heart to weeping.
For now, alas, I’m tried and caused,
Out of this world I am going.

As I come through the city gate
I heard some people talking:
Young Morgan he has confessed at last,
Now his friends will follow after.

I heard it through St. Giles’s pound,
Through Newgate and the city.
Oh, isn’t it a pity that young man should die?
He rides so high and pretty.

But why should I refuse to die
Now here or ever after?
The Captain he leads on the van,
His friends must follow after.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,James Phillips
Date: 07 Jun 24 - 07:17 PM

"Hanged I Shall Be" mentions hanging in the title and the conclusion to the song, but it stands out for the totally gratuitous and unexplained level of violence that led to the conviction.

Here's the version as sung by Martin Carthy with the Albion Country Band

HANGED I SHALL BE

Now as I was bound apprentice, I was ’prentice to the mill,
And I served my master truly for more than seven year.
Until I took up to courting with a lass with that rolling eye
And I promised that I’d marry her in the month of sweet July.
And as we went out a-walking through the fields and the meadows gay,
Oh it’s there we told our tales of love and we fixed our wedding day.

And as we were walking and talking of the things that grew around
Oh I took a stick all out of the hedge and I knocked that pretty maid down
Down on her bended knees she fell and loud for mercy cry,
“Oh spare the life of an innocent girl for I’m not prepared to die.”
But I took her by her curly locks and I dragged her on the ground
And I throwed her into the riverhead that flows to Ekefield town,
That flows so far to the distance, that flows so deep and wide,
Oh it’s there I threw this pretty fair maid that should have been my bride.

Now I went home to my parents’ house, it being late at night.
Mother she got out of bed all for to light the light.
Oh she asked me and she questioned me, “What stains your hands and clothes?”
And the answer I gave back to her, “I’ve been bleeding at my nose.”
No rest, no rest all that long night, no rest there could I find
For there’s sparks of fire and brimstone around my head did shine.

And it was about three days after that this pretty fair maid was found,
Floating by the riverhead that flows to Ekefield town.
That flows so far to the distance, that flows so deep and wide.
Oh it’s there they found this pretty fair maid that should have been my bride.
Oh the judges and the jurymen all on me they did agree
For a-murdering of this pretty fair maid oh hanged I shall be.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment - Richard Rojem
From: Felipa
Date: 05 Jun 24 - 04:46 AM

new song by Peter K dedicated to Richard Rojem (Daiji),who is scheduled to executed in Oklahoma on June 27, 2024. His clemency hearing is on June 17.
The song: https://ihfl.de/peter_k.-because_they_are_the_good_guys.mp4

"Richard Rojem has always maintained his innocence. Three DNA tests fail to implicate him & the courts acknowledge his conviction is based on circumstantial evidence." (
Death Action Network petition)

video discussion
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYP5EYk6tJw&t=1790s


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 15 Dec 23 - 09:55 PM

Has anybody mentioned Hanging Johnny?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Thompson
Date: 14 Dec 23 - 02:09 PM

"The barrels of their rifles were waving like corn" was the contemporary description.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Dec 23 - 10:03 AM

you wouldn't have thought there was much training involved.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Thompson
Date: 14 Dec 23 - 04:31 AM

It was, Big Al. Kilmainham Gaol had long been shut when the leaders of the Easter Rising were brought there to be shot by ad hoc firing squads of untrained soldiers.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Dec 23 - 12:10 PM

i thought it was about one of the revolutionaries of 1916 who was getting shot.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 13 Dec 23 - 07:54 AM

In Ireland there was a notorious 'Hanging jail'....Kimlainham jail. The lovely song, beautifully sung by Ciara Fox isabout a man who is about to be hung but gets married the night before. The marriage is not consummated as Grace....his lady, leaves almost immediately following the marriage ceremony. If you haven't heard 'Grace' before....please enjoy.
https://youtu.be/UJAzKizrVhI?si=P9t4jJ_teqda1953


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: PHJim
Date: 13 Dec 23 - 06:30 AM

I'll admit that I haven't read the whol thread, but I haven't seen Pink Anderson's "Traveli' Man" yet.

Now the police caught that Bloom at last
They had him up to hang one day
The judge leaned over, said 'My good man
Do you have any last words to say?'
He asked the courtroom to bow their heads
To bow their heads in prayer
Then he crossed one leg & winked one eye
And went flyin' up through the air


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Subject: Lyr Add: HANG THEM ALL (Tom T. Hall)
From: Felipa
Date: 10 Dec 23 - 10:14 AM

Country singer Tom T Hall composed and recorded a song called "Hang Them All (Get the Guilty)"

From YouTube:

HANG THEM ALL (GET THE GUILTY)
Written by Tom T. Hall
As recorded by Tom T. Hall on “Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher,” 1995.

1. There's a murderer in your town, mister.
There were seven unsolved last year.
There's a murderer in your town, mister.
How long has he been livin' here?

CHORUS: If they hang 'em all, they get the guilty.
If they hang 'em all, they cannot miss.
If they hang 'em all, they get the guilty.
Been a lot o' problems solved like this.

2. There's a thief in your town, mister.
This mornin' my milk was gone.
There's a thief in your town, mister.
How long has this been goin' on? CHORUS

3. There's a cheater in your town, mister.
Last night I saw him in a bar.
There's a cheater in your town, mister.
Is that the kind of people you are? CHORUS

4. There's a hypocrite in your town, mister.
I think I caught him in a lie.
There's a hypocrite in your town, mister.
Are you gonna let that go by?

NEW CHORUS: If they hang 'em all, they get the guilty.
That's what you say we ought to do.
If they hang 'em all, they get the guilty.
But remember they're gonna hang you too.

REPEAT FIRST CHORUS.


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Subject: Lyr Add: UNDER AMERICAN SKIES (T Paxton, A Hills)
From: GUEST,Doodles
Date: 27 Jul 23 - 03:48 PM

Haven't seen this anywhere else on Mudcat using Google's advanced search. Found the lyrics from www.traditionalmusic.co.uk but heard the song on an edition of Sing Out! Magazine years and years back when I was a kid. Looking back the assertion that slavery and child labour had been stopped feel a bit naive as much of the child labour has just been outsourced to other countries and the prison industrial complex in the USA is akin to modern slavery. Anyway, the song haunted me back then so here it is.


UNDER AMERICAN SKIES
As recorded by Tom Paxton and Anne Hills on "Under American Skies," 2001.

1. She was born dirt poor, grew up gangly and tall,
And the state gave her no real protection at all.
Her father'd get drunk and he'd beat her so bad,
And her mother wouldn't help; her man was all that she had.
At school, her teachers just closed their eyes
To the bruises on her arms, on her neck and her thighs.
She was learnin' that the world was bitter and cold.
She was only a child, but she was already old:
Family ties
Under American skies.

2. As she grew up, she learned to close down her heart.
She turned away from love; she wouldn't let love start.
When a man tried rape in the West Texas rain,
She left him dyin' and writhin' in pain.
Like a wounded animal she lashed out, mean,
Doin' what she'd learned, doin' what she'd seen,
But that kind of justice never heals the hurt,
And her tears mixed with blood on her raggedy shirt.
Anger cries
Under American skies.

CHORUS. When we ended slavery, we all went free.
When we stopped child labor, that was victory.
When the women started voting, true democracy,
But we still haven't got it and we can't let it be,
When we're part of a system, against it or willing,
And every last time that the state does the killing,
A part of us dies
Under American skies.

3. They caught her down by the Santa Fe tracks,
And the paper called her one of those drug maniacs.
The rapist was a member of society,
So she got no bail; she got her lawyer for free.
That court-appointed lawyer had a vacant smile.
He raised no objections, and he slept through the trial.
Just like her dad, he had booze on his breath.
The jury said, "Guilty" and the judge said "Death."
Pity flies
Under American skies.

4. They sent her to Huntsville; they sent her to hell.
They sent her up to Terrel to a locked-down cell.
She sat on her cot; a couple years crept by.
Her appeals ran out and she prepared to die.
Her final dress was just a hospital gown.
They put her on a gurney and they strapped her down,
Put needles in her arm under surgical tape,
And seven minutes later she had made her escape:
Sad goodbyes
Under American skies. CHORUS
Part of us dies
Under American skies.

D.L.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BALLAD OF HERBERT LEONARD MILLS
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Jul 23 - 04:33 AM

THE BALLAD OF HERBERT LEONARD MILLS
Hanged in Lincoln Prison aged 18, in December 1952

Nottingham that city,
By the swirling River Trent.
Nottingham folks – are kind and decent enough
But some lives seem cursed and bent.

This tale of a eighteen-year-owd Nottin’ham lad.
Is a sad little story but true.
For they hung him up by the neck until dead
Back in 1952.

For we have lived the cruel and bitter times
Year when laws were trying hard to match the crimes
Match the mindless cruelty, the violence, the futility
With indifference to the misery left behind

He was born club-footed was Herbert.
He alus’ did limp when he walked
But for a kid from The Meadows, left school at fourteen
He sounded quite posh when he talked.

Herbert was dead set on being a poet
Like Shelley and Keats,   or The Bard
But when you can’t walk proper, and talk a bit different
Down The Meadows, your life can get hard.

For we have lived the cruel and bitter times
Those were the years when laws tried hard to match the crimes
Match the mindless cruelty, the violence, the futility
With indifference to the misery left behind

He were in’t pictures the night he met Mabel
There in the flicks in the dark
They made a date to see each other
They would meet at the gates of the park.

But Mabel was thirty years older
Though dolled up on that evening so warm
I reckon in’t long grass of the allotments
Young Herbert just couldn’t perform.

I’m guessing, but perhaps she said something
That filled him with anger and shame.
He strangled Mabel, told rozzers he’d just found a body
Acting like it all was some daft game.

And we have lived the cruel and bitter times
Year when laws were trying hard to match the crimes
Match the mindless cruelty, the violence, the futility
With indifference to the misery left behind

Herbert then sold his story to the News of the Screws
And when all that money was gone.
He called up their top crime reporter
And confessed to the killing he’d done

But Herbert said he were this great master criminal
A bloke with a reet evil plan
So they wheeled out the pantomime of judges and lawyers
And they all condemned the young man.

For we have lived the cruel and bitter times
Year when laws were trying hard to match the crimes
Match the mindless cruelty, the violence, the futility
With indifference to the misery left behind

Albert Pierrepoint was the master hangman
For twas Albert that hanged the great dope
And Herbert’s young heart it stopped beating after
Half an hour on the end of a rope.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 27 Jul 23 - 12:39 AM

McCaffery; On January 11, 1862, Private Patrick McCaffery was hanged on the gallows erected at Kirkdale Gaol, Liverpool, for shooting dead Colonel Hugh Crofton and Captain John Hanham at Fulwood Barracks in Preston.

A loaded rifle I did prepare
For to shoot my captain in the barracks square
It was my captain I meant to kill
But I shot my colonel against my will

At Liverpool Assizes my trial I stood
And I held my courage as best I could
Then the old judge said, Now, McCaffery
Go prepare your soul for eternity

See Mudcat thread Lyr Add: Macafferee

In Digitrad as MCCASSERY

With a loaded rifle I did prepare
To shoot my captain on the barrack square;
It was Captain Neill that I meant to kill,
But I shot my colonel against my will.

I done the deed, I shed his blood,
And at Liverpool Assizes my trial stood;
The judge he says, "McCassery
Prepare yourself for the gallows-tree."


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 26 Jul 23 - 07:38 PM

Rope Stretching Blues - Blind Blake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpDGZNUq9j4


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: keberoxu
Date: 24 Mar 23 - 03:48 PM

Corporal punishment is the subject of the little-known Flanders & Swann song,
"Bring Back the Birch,"
which outlines forms of punishment by eras/centuries.


As in this verse, dedicated to the eighteenth century:

"Bring back the stocks, bring back the bridle,
Hang and draw traitors and quarter them too.
Brand the low thieves, transport the idle,
Burn at the stake all the heretic crew . . . "

and I will spare you the verse about
the feudal barons in the middle ages.

Not all corporal punishment is capital punishment,
but it seems safe to say that
all capital punishment is corporal --

what about banishment, though?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 21 Mar 23 - 05:15 PM

There are many here
British broadsides: Song by song, from PlanetSlade.com    http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-songs.html


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Subject: Lyr Add: SLIP KNOT / HANGKNOT SLIPKNOT (W Guthrie)
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Mar 23 - 12:24 PM

SLIP KNOT, a.k.a. HANGKNOT, SLIPKNOT
As recorded by Woody Guthrie

1. Did you ever see a hangman tie a slipknot?
Did you ever see a hangman tie a slipknot?
Yes, I've seen it many a time, and he winds, and he winds.
After thirteen times, he's got a slipknot.

2. Tell me: will that slipknot slip? No, it will not.
Will that slipknot slip? No, it will not.
It'll slip around your neck, but it won't slip back again,
That slipknot, Lord God, that slipknot.

3. Did you ever lose a brother on that slipknot?
Did you ever lose a brother on that slipknot?
Yes, my brother was a slave; he tried to escape.
They drug him to his grave with a slipknot.

4. Did you ever lose your father on that slipknot?
Did you ever lose your father on that slipknot?
Yes, they hung him from a pole, and they shot him full of holes.
They left him there to rot in that slipknot.

5. Tell me: who makes the laws for that slipknot?
Who makes the laws for that slipknot?
Who says who is goin' to the calaboose,
Or get the hangman's noose or the slipknot?

6. I don't know who makes the law for that slipknot.
I don't know who makes the law for that slipknot,
But the bones of a many a men are a-whistling in the wind
Because they tied their laws with a slipknot.

7. I don't know who makes the laws of that slipknot.
I don't know who makes the laws of that slipknot,
But the bones of many a men are whistling in the wind
Because they made their laws with a slipknot,
And because they tied their laws with a slipknot.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Mar 23 - 08:24 AM

Woody Guthrie's 'Slipknot' mentioned yet?


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Subject: Lyr Add: CAPTAIN KIDD
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 20 Mar 23 - 08:02 AM

The melody of the song Sam Hall was taken from the song "Captain Kidd", aka "Robert Kidd", written shortly after the execution of William Kidd in 1701. Wikipedia

Kidd had two lawyers to assist in his defence. He was shocked to learn at his trial that he was charged with murder. He was found guilty on all charges (murder and five counts of piracy) and sentenced to death. He was hanged in a public execution on 23 May 1701, at Execution Dock, Wapping, in London. He had to be hanged twice. On the first attempt, the hangman's rope broke and Kidd survived. Although some in the crowd called for Kidd's release, claiming the breaking of the rope was a sign from God, Kidd was hanged again minutes later, and died. His body was gibbeted over the River Thames at Tilbury Point – as a warning to future would-be pirates – for three years. Wikipedia

Bob Roberts sings CAPTAIN KIDD (1960) from Mainly Norfolk

Oh, my name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Oh, my name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed.
Oh, my name is William Kidd,
Many wicked things I did,
And the law I did forbid, as I sailed, as I sailed.

Oh, I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Oh, I murdered William Moore, as I sailed.
Oh, I murdered William Moore
And I left him in his gore
Forty leagues from the shore, as I sailed, as I sailed.

So to Execution Dock I must go, I must go,
Oh to Execution Dock I must go,
So to Execution Dock,
Put my head upon the block
And no more the law I'll mock as I sail, as I sail.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 20 Mar 23 - 07:09 AM

A Shropshire Lad, IX A. E. Housman - 1896

On moonlit heath and lonesome bank
    The sheep beside me graze;
And yon the gallows used to clank
    Fast by the four cross ways.

A careless shepherd once would keep
    The flock by moonlight there,
And high amongst the glimmering sheep
    The dead man stood on air.

They hang us now in Shrewsbury jail:
    The whistles blow forlorn,
And trains all night groan on the rail
    To men that die at morn.

From LOVELIEST OF TREES Polly Bolton Band 1996 SHEPHERD MUSIC SHEP CD 01
Settings of A.E. Housman poems by Polly Bolton, John Shepherd and Steve Dunachie; readings by Nigel Hawthorne.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,RJM
Date: 20 Mar 23 - 03:39 AM

Sam Hall,AKA Jack Hall did do something creative while waiting for execution, he wrote a book on the subject of criminal slang


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 20 Mar 23 - 12:10 AM

A little more on MacPherson's Rant; https://www.scotslanguage.com/articles/node/id/449 Scots Language Centre, Centre for Scots Leid

A song about an injustice. The story of the song is largely true. James MacPherson was an outlaw in the North East of Scotland, one of the travelling people and the leader of a band of robbers. He was said to have been generous to and popular with the poor people, but he was the enemy of Lord Duff, the Laird of Braco. MacPherson was caught in Keith and hanged at the Cross of Banff on 16 November 1700, 300 years ago.

The story tells that no-one would arrest him because he was such a fine swordsman, but as he came into Keith through a narrow street a woman sitting at a window overlooking the street threw down a thick heavy blanket which entangled him so he could not draw his sword. The court jury was packed with the dependants of Lord Duff, the Laird of Grant, who found him guilty, but a friend of MacPherson rode to the higher court in Aberdeen for a pardon. The Laird saw the rider coming with the pardon, so ordered the town clock to be put forward so they could legally hang MacPherson before it arrived.

MacPherson was a fine fiddler, and he composed this tune the night before he was hanged and played it on the scaffold. Then he offered to give his fiddle to anyone who would play the tune at his wake. No-one would, so he smashed the fiddle. Anyone who had accepted it would have shown themselves to be a relative or friend of his and so liable to arrest themselves. The song is also known as 'MacPherson's Farewell'. Robert Burns rewrote the song, but these are the traditional lyrics. The tune is very popular amongst Scottish fiddlers. The pieces of MacPherson’s fiddle are displayed in the MacPherson Clan House Museum in Newtonmore.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Felipa
Date: 05 Mar 23 - 08:05 PM

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=43672 Ballad of Frankie Silver


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 Feb 23 - 07:15 AM

For a bit of light hearted relief. My mate always introduced Sam Hall by saying the perpetrator got a suspended sentence - they suspended him by the neck


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 28 Feb 23 - 06:56 AM

I first heard "Iom Dooley" when I visited my cousin in Brigg who was continuously playing a 78 rpm record on a wind-up gramophone complete with steel needle. It must have been in the 1958 Christmas holiday, and I imagine it was the Lonnie Donegan version. The Kingston Trio recorded the most popular version of the song in 1958 for Capitol. Their record sold in excess of six million copies, and is often credited with starting the "folk music boom" of the late 1950s and 1960s.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Feb 23 - 06:40 PM

mentioned as being sung by medical students in Ulysses - The Bight Before Larry was Stretched.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: robomatic
Date: 21 Feb 23 - 05:30 PM

"The Night Before Larry Was Stretched."


Very effective when played on the ai in the dark. The version I'm familiar with was sung by Elvis Costello.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Lang Johnnie More
Date: 21 Feb 23 - 05:11 PM

Apologies if these 2 have been mentioned above already - I'm not going through over 160 posts to check, :
"Danny Deever" - recorded by Peter Bellamy, but it was the Scottish singer Ken Campbell whom I heard singing it first :
https://youtu.be/DRgnvs3namI

"The Hangman And The Papist" - Dave Cousins, of "The Strawbs" :

https://youtu.be/bkVswDZxrr4


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOE HILL'S LAST WILL (Joe Hill)
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 20 Feb 23 - 10:36 PM

Joe Hill’s Last Will (1915) (Written in his cell, November 18, 1915, on the eve of his execution)

First published in the March 1916 edition (9th edition; “Joe Hill Memorial Edition”) of the IWW Little Red Songbook.

My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide.
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan —
“Moss does not cling to rolling stone.”

My body? Ah, If I could choose,
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my last and final will.
Good luck to all of you. Joe Hill

To which I have added a codicil;

We watch as seasons come and go
But hard times always stay, we know
A hundred years long you've been gone
Your song, Joe Hill, still carries on

I can come round to sing it if you wish.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 20 Feb 23 - 10:19 PM

There is a separate Sacco and Vanzetti thread.

You can hear Woody sing Suassos Lane and his ten other Sacco and Vanzetti songs on Ballads of Sacco and Vanzetti, available from Smithsonian Folkways. The album also includes Niccola Sacco's last letter to his son, set to music and sung by Pete Seeger.

Andy Irvine wrote Facing the Chair - with an echo of Woody Guthrie - about the executions.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GerryM
Date: 19 Feb 23 - 11:21 PM

Too Close to the Wind, written by Stuart Marson, recorded by many, is about a gang of highwaymen (fictional, I think), hung in Northamptonshire for their crimes. It contains the lines,

And now I lie in a darkened dungeon,
Condemned on the gallows to die.

And,

And the crowds will walk through the streets till sunset,
When the hangman cuts us down.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 19 Feb 23 - 10:24 AM

Hindhead is an area of myths and superstition!

According to legend, the Devil would jump from hill to hill at the three ‘Devil’s Jumps’ near the village of Churt. This tormented Thor, God of Thunder, who lived at nearby Thor’s Lie (Thursley). When Thor tried to strike the Devil with thunder and lightning, the Devil retaliated by scooping up a handful of earth and hurling it at Thor. The depression that remained is the Devil's Punch Bowl. The three villainous highwaymen were tried and then hung on Gibbet Hill, near the site of the murder, as a warning to other criminals. After the hanging, many fears and superstitions arose around Gibbet Hill. In 1851 Sir William Erle, an English lawyer, judge and Whig politician, paid for a Celtic cross to be put up on Gibbet Hill to banish these fears and raise the local spirits. (National Trust)

The area around the Devil’s Punchbowl, in south west Surrey, in the 1800s had a terrible reputation due to the activities of local highwaymen and robbers. They regularly robbed the stage coach as it travelled slowly up the hill on its way to Portsmouth. The murder was mentioned by Charles Dickens in “Nicholas Nickleby” (1838). It is also the theme behind another famous Victorian book, “The Broom-Squire” (1896), by Sabine Baring-Gould. (A broomsquire is someone who makes their living out of making besom brooms – a trade unique to the heathland areas of England. The bushy plant called “heather” is collected and fashioned into broom brushes). (Visit Surrey)

Gilbert White of Selborne records, in his Naturalist's Journal 1768–1793, that on 23 December 1790 there was a terrible thunderstorm during which: Two men were struck dead in a wind-mill near Rooks-hill on the Sussex downs: & on Hind-head one of the bodies on the gibbet was beaten down to the ground. JMW Turner created a collection of 71 Mezzotints under the title Liber Studiorum. These were published in 1811. One of these was of Hindhead Hill with the gibbet clearly shown. (Wikipedia)


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Feb 23 - 08:18 AM

Welll the the tune does add a sort of jaunty vigour to verses which I read initially as very gloomy.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SAILOR'S STONE (Henry Peacock)
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 19 Feb 23 - 05:28 AM

We drove down the A3, the old Portsmouth Road to Hindhead, where the main road now runs through a tunnel. Remarkably, the old highway over Hindhead has become a footpath through the restored landscape. Beside the path we found the Sailor’s Stone, bearing the inscription;

ERECTED
In detestation of a barbarous Murder
Committed here on an unknown Sailor
On Sep, 24th 1786
By Edwd. Lonegon, Mich. Casey
& Jas. Marshall
Who were all taken the same day
And hung in Chains near this place
Whoso sheddeth Man's Blood
by Man shall his Blood be shed.

The Sailor's Stone by Henry Peacock

From his home in London An Able Seaman strode
Back to his ship he made his trip Upon the Portsmouth Road
At the village inn in Thursley He stopped to buy a round
And there three men he did befriend They too were Portsmouth bound

Chorus; As you travel on life’s journey
You’ll meet your fellow man
But take great care, for while you share
Others take what they can

On the lonely climb up Hindhead Those men made their attack
And with a knife they took his life And made off with his pack
Now those cut-throats hang in irons On the top of Gibbet Hill
To show us all what will befall Those who treat others ill

Chorus

A stone stands by the wayside To mark where he was killed
All travellers know no grass will grow Where that red blood was spilled
In quiet Thursley churchyard The unknown sailor sleeps
His kin still yearn for his return From sailing on the deep

Chorus

A sailor leads a hard life He knows tragedy and woe
He has to brave the restless wave Wherever he may go
Our sailor and his shipmates Through danger daily strode
He died alone, his name unknown Upon the Portsmouth Road

Chorus

It’s a true story! Use the tune to ‘The Calico Printer’s Clerk’ (She was very fond of dancing, and allow me to remark, That one fine day, she danced away with the calico printer’s clerk), written by Dave Moran after The Halliard (Dave Moran, Nic Jones and Nigel Paterson) found the words in the Harkness Collection of broadsides at the Harris Library, Preston. The Houghton Weavers sing - 'Calico Printer's Clerk' - Bing video


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Feb 23 - 06:23 AM

There was something quite horrible about the ritual of capital punishment as it existed in England. Probably everywhere, but - my memories of the years in which it existed are very vivid.

My own father was a policeman, and killing a policeman was one of the offences for which hanging was applied.

I can remember my father asking me, Why do care about these men? Do you think I would care about a man who killed you, or your Mum?"

But the reporting of it fed the sensual delight of the ghoulish public. There was something about the chastening and stilling of young flesh that appealed to the British public,

   The Daily Express had a feature on page 3, called photonews. The sort of beautiful high quality black and white photograph that makes you think of Hasselblad cameras.

One day I remember there was a picture of a man sitting down to eat steak and chips in a motorway cafe. It was the hangman Harry Allen on his way to kill someone. Totally chilling.

It is said people are in favour of capital punishment, let's hope it never returns to our country.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Felipa
Date: 15 Feb 23 - 05:21 PM

The Laird of Warriston, Child 194

The above link is to a Mudcat thread with the lyrics. At https://mainlynorfolk.info/folk//songs/thelairdofwariston.html the following information is given:

Ewan MacColl sang The Laird o' Wariston in 1982 on his and Peggy Seeger's Blackthorne album Blood & Roses Volume 2. They noted:

    "Jean Livingstone of Dunnipace and John Kincaid of Wariston, the two main protagonists in this prosaic domestic tragedy, were (according to contemporary accounts) married against their will at a very early age. Kincaid's consistent ill-treatment of his young wife eventually caused her to murder him. Janet Murdo, her nurse, and Robert Weir, a former servant in her father's house, helped her to carry out the deed.

   " No attempt was made to cover up the crime and within three days of having committed it Jean Livingstone was tried, found guilty and condemned to death. She was beheaded at the Canongate in Edinburgh on 5 July 1600 and Janet Murdo was burned at the stake on the same day. Robert Weir fled but was apprehended four years later and was executed by having his body broken on a cartwheel by the coulter of a plough."

00000
From that information, I would think that Robert Weir's execution was outside of the law (like a lynching), but that Jean Livingston faced "capital punishment" after a trial.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 13 Feb 23 - 07:17 PM

https://soundcloud.com/denise_whittle/the-ballad-of-herbert-leonard-mills


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Feb 23 - 05:49 PM

Song about a Nottingham murder and the hanging of a 19 year old boy . It happenened in 1951

https://soundcloud.com/denise_whittle/the-ballad-of-herbert-leonard-mills


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 10 Feb 23 - 06:20 AM

Execution Ballads Website     https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/about


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: RTim
Date: 09 Feb 23 - 10:27 PM

"Strange Fruit" is a song written and composed by Abel Meeropol (under his pseudonym Lewis Allan) and recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939. The lyrics were drawn from a poem by Meeropol published in 1937. The song protests the lynching of Black Americans with lyrics that compare the victims to the fruit of trees.

Josh White did not perform it until 1942.....

It's all available online!!!

Tim Radford


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