Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origin: Long Black Veil

DigiTrad:
LONG BLACK VEIL


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Where I'm Going (Marijohn Wilkin) (9)
The Story Behind The Long Black Veil (47)
Obit: Marijohn Wilkin -Long Black Veil (28 Oct 06) (14)
Lyr Req: Long Black Veil (4) (closed)


Vixen 26 Jun 00 - 01:48 PM
MMario 26 Jun 00 - 01:53 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 26 Jun 00 - 02:12 PM
MMario 26 Jun 00 - 02:17 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Jun 00 - 02:55 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 26 Jun 00 - 02:57 PM
balladeer 26 Jun 00 - 10:22 PM
dick greenhaus 26 Jun 00 - 10:25 PM
Joe Offer 27 Jun 00 - 03:36 AM
Vixen 27 Jun 00 - 08:29 AM
Midchuck 27 Jun 00 - 12:38 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 08 Jul 02 - 05:58 PM
Francy 08 Jul 02 - 06:53 PM
Noreen 08 Jul 02 - 07:07 PM
Francy 08 Jul 02 - 07:11 PM
michaelr 08 Jul 02 - 07:17 PM
Uncle_DaveO 08 Jul 02 - 07:23 PM
Herga Kitty 08 Jul 02 - 07:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Jul 02 - 07:31 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 08 Jul 02 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,Glen Reid 09 Jul 02 - 12:27 AM
GUEST,KeithA o Hertford at work 09 Jul 02 - 03:27 AM
GUEST,K 09 Jul 02 - 04:14 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 09 Jul 02 - 06:29 AM
catspaw49 09 Jul 02 - 04:25 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 09 Jul 02 - 06:09 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 09 Jul 02 - 06:19 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 09 Jul 02 - 08:56 PM
boglion 10 Jul 02 - 04:22 PM
Noreen 10 Jul 02 - 09:39 PM
GUEST,K 20 Jul 02 - 10:17 AM
Coyote Breath 21 Jul 02 - 03:24 AM
Leadfingers 30 Sep 02 - 05:44 PM
Art Thieme 30 Sep 02 - 07:48 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 30 Sep 02 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 01 Oct 02 - 04:56 AM
Dave Bryant 01 Oct 02 - 10:25 AM
GUEST 01 Oct 02 - 12:43 PM
Joe Offer 11 Dec 02 - 02:23 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 02 - 02:48 AM
GUEST,THE REAL POOP 11 Dec 02 - 12:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Mar 04 - 12:34 PM
Coyote Breath 26 Mar 04 - 03:45 PM
Stewie 26 Mar 04 - 04:54 PM
Dave Hanson 27 Mar 04 - 12:33 AM
Desert Dancer 31 Oct 13 - 01:30 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 31 Oct 13 - 10:45 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 01 Nov 13 - 08:25 AM
meself 01 Nov 13 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,Jaze 01 Nov 13 - 04:57 PM
Ron Davies 02 Nov 13 - 07:36 AM
Janie 02 Nov 13 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 02 Nov 13 - 02:51 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Vixen
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 01:48 PM

D'Cats, o experts on all folk-musical:

Is "Long Black Veil" a traditional song?

The DT says it was written by Danny Dill and Marijon Wilkin. However, two times in the last two weeks I have heard from two different sources that it was written by....Johnny Cash!??! I have always thought it was an old song (read "author unknown") made popular during the 60s folk revival by Joan Baez and PPM.

Will someone enlighten me with the truth please?

Thanks,

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: MMario
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 01:53 PM

some very interesting information here

url=http://theband.hiof.no/articles/long_black_veil_viney.html

It seems it was designed to sound like a traditional song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 02:12 PM

You mean the Streets of Laredo isn't trad either?????


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: MMario
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 02:17 PM

that's what they say


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 02:55 PM

Danny Dill certainly recorded The Streets of Laredo (in 1960) but, as the song has been known since at least 1886 (see  The Traditional Ballad Index ), I think that we're fairly safe sticking with "trad" for that one!!

Malcolm


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 02:57 PM

*phew* I was dizzy there for a moment. Thanks, Malcolm!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: balladeer
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 10:22 PM

Long Black veil: composed in this century.

Streets of Laredo: almost as old as the streets of Laredo.

Or so tradition has it, i.e. that's what I've believed for the past forty years.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 26 Jun 00 - 10:25 PM

As far as I know, Long Black Veil was composed in the 1940s, and first recorded by Lefty Frizell. Pure commercial country. Good, though.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Origins: Long Black Veil
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Jun 00 - 03:36 AM

Here's a quote from Danny Dill
"I got on a kick with Burl Ives songs—those old songs—but I –didn't know any, and I had no way to find any at the time, or was too lazy I said, 'I'll write me a folksong' - an instant folksong, if you will So I worked on it for months, and then it all came to me. There's three incidents I've read about in my life that really please me. There was a Catholic priest killed in New Jersey many years ago under a town hall light, and there was no less than 50 witnesses. They never found a motive. They never found the man. Until this day, it's an unsolved murder. That always intrigued me, so that's "under the town hall light." Then the Rudolph Valentino story's always impressed me—about the woman that always used to visit his grave. She always wore a long black veil—now there's the title for the song. And the third component was Red Foley's "God Walks These Hills With Me." I always thought that was a great song, so I got that in there, too. I just scrambled it all up, and that's what came out.
(from Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy, by Dorothy Horstman, ©1975, 1986, 1996 by Country Music Foundation Press). The song was published in 1959.
-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Vixen
Date: 27 Jun 00 - 08:29 AM

Wow! As usual, D'Cats come through with the goods! Thanks a million, folks!

While I'm disappointed to learn that it's not an "ancient tune," I am fascinated to learn its origins.

Thanks again,

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Midchuck
Date: 27 Jun 00 - 12:38 PM

When we do it for audiences, we like to introduce it by saying that it's not a bluegrass song, no matter how many bluegrass groups may have done it, because the chick survives.

Peter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE LONG BLACK VEIL (Jagger/Chieftains)
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 05:58 PM

Mick Jagger and the Chieftains recorded a fine version of the "Long Black Veil." It is closer to the original lyrics than the one in the DT.

THE LONG BLACK VEIL

Ten years ago, on a dark cold night
Someone was killed 'neath the town hall light.
There were a few at the scene, and they all did agree,
That the man who ran looked a lot like me.

The judge said, "Son, what is your alibi?
If you were somewhere else, you won't have to die."
I spoke not a word, though it meant my life,
For I had been in the arms of my best friend's wife.

She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave when the night winds wail.
Nobody knows. Nobody sees.
Nobody knows but me.

The scaffold is high and eternity's near
She stood in the crowd and shed not a tear.
Sometimes at night when the dark wind moans,
In a long black veil, she cries over my bones.

She walks these hills in a long black veil.
She visits my grave when the night winds wail.
Nobody knows. Nobody sees.
Nobody knows but me.

Revised from M. J. Wilkin and D. Dill
Slightly different chords from those offered in the DT (Baez?) may be found at: Long Black Veil


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Francy
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 06:53 PM

I enjoyed this thread up to the Mick Jagger doing this song well.....Sorry but you've got to hear Burl Ives...Lefty Frizzell.....Bobby Bare...Joan Baez.....Johnny Cash and many others...Please don't include Mick Jagger in that company.......Leave him where he belongs....in rock n roll

Frank of Toledo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Noreen
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 07:07 PM

Isn't it Van Morrison singing it on that CD, Dicho? Haven't got it to hand but that's my memory.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Francy
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 07:11 PM

No Noreen....Van does "Have I Told You Lately" with the Chieiftains and it is wonderful.....It is Mick Jagger trying to do "Long Black Veil"....Frank of Toledo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: michaelr
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 07:17 PM

No, Van's contribution to that album is his less than brilliant "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You". And Sting does "Mo Ghile Mear", badly... The Chieftains could have benefited from a producer on a lot of their collaborations with rock and pop stars, to tell them "no, no, no... this sucks!"

Cheers,
Michael


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 07:23 PM

I've been given to understand that the tune and central idea for Streets of Laredo is an older traditional song called The Boston Burglar.

Dave Oesterreich


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 07:23 PM

I thought I'd heard the Band do it, or is that just false memory?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 07:31 PM

Well that must be a very strange version of either the Streets of Laredo or the Boston Burglar, or both.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 08:50 PM

Gee jumping jelly beans, I guess not everybody likes Mick Jagger's rendition.
I used to like Burl Ives when I was in school, but I find his singing shallow now. (Ducking again!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,Glen Reid
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 12:27 AM

I had heard, that the Streets of Larado was borrowed from the trad. Irish tune called, The Bard of Armagh. Any takers?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,KeithA o Hertford at work
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 03:27 AM

They all come from Ireland don't they, but some think it derives from the English " The Soldier/Sailor Cut Down In His Prime"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,K
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 04:14 AM

Marijohn Wilkin, co-author of the song, recorded a version herself in 1961. With slight different lytrics, like: The few at the scene were wrong as can be, cause the man they accused that night was with me. Etc


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 06:29 AM

The Streets of Laredo is certainly sung to the same tune as the Bard of Armagh, but chances are that the tune had already been recycled. The Bard of Armagh was someone called "Bold Phelim Brady", but I think his only claim to fame (if he even existed) is the song about him.

BTW, we owe a lot to the Chieftains, but much of that album just sucks. In keeping with Paddy Moloney's less attractive character trait (and the "authorised biography" of the Chieftains), it's just one long exercise in name-dropping.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 04:25 PM

I think the whole thing in all it's permutations was a prequel to OJ Simpson.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 06:09 PM

Guest K., from the link posted by MMario way up near the top:

      The hit revived Frizells career. Co-writer Marijohn Wilkin then
      recorded an answer disc herself in 1961 with barely changed lyrics as
      My Long Black Veil (The few at the scene were wrong as could be, cos
      the man they had killed that night was with me The scaffold was high,
      I knew his death was near, I stood in the crowd and shed unseen tears
      so there). It has a much less country and more elaborate arrangement,
      a lot of elaborate strings and thudding bass.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 06:19 PM

Keith and Glen,

According to Bruce Olson, he ties Streets of Laredo to the Unfortunate Rake and the Buck's Elegy.

... all wrapped in white linen


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 08:56 PM

Just last night on a hot summer's night,
Disdaining the disguise of a long black veil,
I killed a man 'neath the town hall light-
The Irish bard and unfortunate rake I helped to kick the pail
Had begun another thread on the Streets of Laredo.
Nobody knows, Nobody sees,
Only the Shadow knows.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: boglion
Date: 10 Jul 02 - 04:22 PM

Apparantly, Mick Jagger was first lined up to sing The Foggy Dew but baulked at its Republican connotations - he might not have got his knighthood!!

He settled for Long Black Veil and I've had the governor of my local pub in Kerry taking the p*ss every time I sing it - claiming it's a Stones song. I learned it from Ms Baez many many years ago.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Noreen
Date: 10 Jul 02 - 09:39 PM

Yes, Pluiméir Ceolmhar, that can be the only reason for including Marianne Faithful on the album... (cringe)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,K
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 10:17 AM

MY LONG BLACK VEIL
Alternative lyrics as recorded by Marijohn Wilkin herself on a 45 rpm in 1961

Ten years ago on a cold dark night
There was someone killed 'neath the town hall light
The few at the scene were wrong as could be
Cause the man they accused that night was with me

But what could he do and what could he say
For that one stolen night he just had to pay
He couldn't tell a soul that I was out with him
Cause the whole town knew I belonged to his best friend

Now I walk these hills in my long black veil
I visit his grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees
Nobody knows but me

The scaffold was high I knew his dead was near
I stood in the crowd and shed unseen tears
But sometimes at night when the cold wind moans
In my long black veil I weep for his bones

I walk these hills in my long black veil
I visit his grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees
Nobody knows but me


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 21 Jul 02 - 03:24 AM

I've always liked and often sang Long Black Veil but I think the guy was a jerk since the gal chose to stay with her husband rather than save her lover's life, sheesh!

As for Streets of Laredo, I understood it to be a very close relative of the Saint James Hospital-Saint James Infirmary, also to be Irish in origin and further also to be of a young man dying of "the pox" The version I sing is a bit more graphic than the usual version in that the young cowboy asks that roses be strewn over his coffin to mask the smell and in the last verse he asks the singer for a glass of cold water and "...but when I returned the spirit had left him and gone to his maker, the poor boy had died." I cannot remember where I learned the song in the first place or where I had heard of its ties to Dublin's St. James Hospital (if there ever was such a place)

Life is full of mysteries.

CB


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 05:44 PM

Streets of Laredo/St James Infirmary and a whole lot of others have their roots in The Rakes Lament,which was adapted by both the Army and the Navy and transported round the world in the eighteenth century.Or very early nineteenth.I think.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 07:48 PM

Friends, I do feel that this is about as close to a song about ghosts and other supernatural / occult topics that you will ever see in a commercially produced and distributed song in these still terribly puritanical United States. In the world of folk lyrics, hovering in the mists of the oral tradition for all to see, are the ghosts conversing with family etc. in songs like "The Lady Gay", "Lost Jimmy Whalen", "Tamlyn" and a few others derived from the English and Scottish (Irish too) Popular Ballads. But only this and, maybe, the Country Gentlemen's "Bringing Mary Home" are all that vome to mind at present.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 08:20 PM

The fidelity that transcends life itself... Well now, I've been doing this song for years, all enthusiasticly like Ms.Baez, and I heard other versions much like it... Then I started hearing a creepy rendition done in song circles and open mics where the beat seemed all heavy and the singer miserable and twitching... And yes, sure enough, the awesome chieftons CD that I heard at a party had this miserable rendition on it by none other than Mick Jagger. I was so sad hearing good local musicians doing Mick's version... just seemed wrong...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 01 Oct 02 - 04:56 AM

CB
Sounds like you're thinking of the "Lock Hospital" versions - Christy Moore recorded one many years ago, for example. There was indeed a "Lock Hospital" for the treatment of VD in Townsend St. in Dublin - but there were lots of others wherever the British Army went! There is a St. James Hospital in Dublin, alright, but no relation.

Regards


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 01 Oct 02 - 10:25 AM

The "Streets of Laredo" has virtually the same tune and plot to the much older british "Rake's Lament", "Young Sailor/Soldier cut down in his prime" group of songs. Just as the song was modified for the central character to be a soldier, Sailor, Highwayman etc. someone, presumably across the Atlantic changed it to a Cowboy - perhaps that was done by Dill.



I always understood that "Saint James Imfirmary" was a later adaption of "Laredo".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 02 - 12:43 PM

Streets of Laredo-Bard of Armagh-Rake's Lament have all been discussed and lamented over in several threads here. St. James Infirmary usually has a different tune. There are also threads diagnosing that one as well.

47312 has more Long Black Veil. Long Black Veil


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Chords Add: LONG BLACK VEIL (Wilkin/Dill)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:23 AM

I found this version of the chords here (click)
-Joe Offer-



Long Black Veil
by M.J.Wilkin and D.Dill. Album: Music from Big Pink

G
Ten years ago on a cool dark night
          D                         C         G
There was someone killed 'neath the town hall light
G
There were few at the scene and they all did agree
         D                   C       G
That the man who ran looked a lot like me

The judge said "Son, what is your alibi?
If you were somewhere else then you won't have to die"
I spoke not a word although it meant my life
I had been in the arms of my best friend's wife

    C          G          C          G
She walks these hills in a long black veil
    C         G               C          G
She visits my grave where the night winds wail
G                     C      G
Nobody knows, no, and nobody sees
C      G    D   C
Nobody knows but me

The scaffold was high and eternity neared
She stood in the crowd and shed not a tear
But sometimes at night when the cold wind moans
In a long black veil she cries over my bones


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:48 AM

You gotta admit, Joan Baez'Nashville version is really quite good.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,THE REAL POOP
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 12:57 PM

A friend of mine's mother-in-law said her daughter heard that a neighbor had read an article in a newspaper that a guy from out of town told the New York Times editor that his uncle DEFINITELY knew that DANNY DILL was the AUTHOR of the lyrics to LONG BLACK VEIL and had pitched it to MARIJOHN WILKIN, who wrote the MUSIC for the DIRGE...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Mar 04 - 12:34 PM

Lefty Frizzell's hit, "The Long Black Veil," is at the Record Lady, Real Country page 2: Record Lady


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 26 Mar 04 - 03:45 PM

I just remembered: I heard it on a Country Gentlemen album also "Good Woman's Love".

My memory seems to be returning, does that mean I'm well again?

CB


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Stewie
Date: 26 Mar 04 - 04:54 PM

Put 'Long Black Veil' into the Google newsgroups archives search box and you will get a vast number of hits. Select 'Search all groups':

Click Here.

--Stewie.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Info Please: Long Black Veil
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 27 Mar 04 - 12:33 AM

Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys, my favourite version of Long Black Veil, as for the Chieftains, well in the book by John Glatt, Paddy would play with anyone just for the publicity.
eric


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 31 Oct 13 - 01:30 PM

The Long Black Veil is the Perfect Country Song And the Perfect Halloween Song

by Betsy Phillips
guest at the Culture blog at ThinkProgress.org
October 31, 2013

It's Halloween, which means it's a fine time to talk about the greatest country and western song, hands down, ever. Now, I'm sure you've been mislead into believing that it's something like "He Stopped Loving Her Today" or something by Hank Williams or, hell, "Red Solo Cup." But no.

The greatest country song, ever, is "The Long Black Veil."

It is literally the perfect country song. It contains all the elements a country song should have — infidelity, murder, and people needlessly suffering because of outdated senses of honor. It sounds like it could be an ancient Appalachian ballad, even though Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin wrote it just over sixty years ago. Almost everyone who sings it manages not to butcher it. And, best of all (and appropriate for today), it's sung from the perspective of a skeleton.

In Heartaches by the Number: Country Music's 500 Greatest Singles (in which the song comes in at an inexplicable 222), David Cantwell writes, " 'The Long Black Veil,' in which a man can't clear his name because to do so would require admitting that he's been 'in the arms of [his] best friend's wife," is a gothic cheating song — where love and guilt stretch beyond the grave and mourning never ceases." Yes, this is it exactly. The song conjures up the most tender sore spot imaginable and then lets you wallow in the painful pleasure of poking at it for three whole minutes.

Lefty Frizzell did the first and best version. His voice is as beautiful as it ever was, though you can hear a kind of hiss on some of his s-es, at the end of "hills" and "knows" that sound like he might have been nursing a hurt jaw. The accompaniment is sparse — just a simple guitar and an occasional crying fiddle. Unlike most other versions, producer Don Law resisted the temptation to use the music to hit you over the head with the spookiness of the song.

But over the years, there have been some really interesting takes on it. Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell did a great version, where Mitchell sings like she's haunted herself. Dave Matthews does a very "Dave Matthews" take on the song that is worth it to hear Emmylou Harris's voice cutting through all the ridiculousness. And probably my favorite cover is, weirdly enough, Mick Jagger and the Chieftains, who make the song sound like it's a thousand years old.

I envy those of you who've never heard it before, because the chills you're about to get come only the first time you hear the song: Lefty Frizzell sings Long Black Veil.

----

~ Becky in Long Beach


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 31 Oct 13 - 10:45 PM

I have the lp (or had it) of Danny Dill called "Folk Songs of the Wild West", which I think was released in 1960. He recorded Long Black Veil on it, and it sounds absolutely nothing like any of the other versions.   I'm not sure if that's how he originally intended it to sound......but his version is pretty awful.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 01 Nov 13 - 08:25 AM

This is a song that I really like but I don't think that any of the above versions do it justice, in fact I couldn't listen to any of them all through. Mitchell most unsuited to do it with Cash and as for the Dave Matthews sung with absolutely no feeling and masses of over produced sound behind him. I can say in all honesty that I have heard it sung with more sincerity and feeling by an ex-pat American dobro player who plays in sessions in London.

Are there any commercially recorded versions out there that really are worth hearing?

Hoot


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: meself
Date: 01 Nov 13 - 10:54 AM

The first version I heard was by The Band, on their first or second album. It made quite an impression on me - course I was about 15; lots of things made quite an impression on me ....

-----------------------------------------------

Now, on the subject of writers who don't know basic grammar:

"Unlike most other versions, producer Don Law ...... "


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,Jaze
Date: 01 Nov 13 - 04:57 PM

I love a song written by a ghost.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: Ron Davies
Date: 02 Nov 13 - 07:36 AM

I agree that this is a a great song, a well-crafted song, a fun song to sing, and one very much in the tradition of Appalachian ballads.

But--it's been done an awful lot by bluegrass bands, and requested of them even when they had not planned to do it..

And so, at a bluegrass festival years ago I heard an adjustment to part of the lyrics of the last verse:

"Now the scaffold is high and eternity near
She stood in the crowd and had hotdogs and beer."

I can't remember if, having sung that, they even finished the song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: Janie
Date: 02 Nov 13 - 09:05 AM

Lefty's recording, Hoot. Becky linked to it in her above post.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origin: Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 02 Nov 13 - 02:51 PM

Janie,

I listened to Lefty Frizell along with the others and include his version as not at all to my taste, not very convincing.

Hoot


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 18 June 6:34 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.