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The Story Behind The Long Black Veil

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LONG BLACK VEIL


Related threads:
(origins) Origin: Long Black Veil (53)
Lyr Req: Where I'm Going (Marijohn Wilkin) (9)
Obit: Marijohn Wilkin -Long Black Veil (28 Oct 06) (14)
Lyr Req: Long Black Veil (4) (closed)


Ebbie 05 May 02 - 02:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 May 02 - 02:33 PM
Hrothgar 05 May 02 - 08:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 May 02 - 08:28 PM
masato sakurai 05 May 02 - 08:49 PM
Hrothgar 05 May 02 - 09:48 PM
Anglo 06 May 02 - 12:01 AM
Gary T 06 May 02 - 12:12 AM
Joan from Wigan 06 May 02 - 12:13 AM
Joe Offer 06 May 02 - 12:56 AM
Ebbie 06 May 02 - 01:27 AM
Hrothgar 06 May 02 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Cookieless UBED 06 May 02 - 08:54 AM
Peter T. 06 May 02 - 09:12 AM
Ebbie 06 May 02 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,Les B. 06 May 02 - 12:01 PM
GUEST 06 May 02 - 12:33 PM
Ebbie 06 May 02 - 06:49 PM
Stewie 06 May 02 - 06:51 PM
Jim Krause 06 May 02 - 07:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 May 02 - 09:01 PM
GUEST 06 May 02 - 11:30 PM
Jim Krause 07 May 02 - 12:36 AM
Wolfgang 07 May 02 - 04:04 AM
greg stephens 07 May 02 - 05:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 May 02 - 05:39 AM
greg stephens 07 May 02 - 05:57 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 May 02 - 06:13 AM
Wolfgang 07 May 02 - 06:14 AM
Hrothgar 07 May 02 - 06:47 AM
Ebbie 07 May 02 - 05:54 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 07 May 02 - 06:21 PM
Song Dog 07 May 02 - 07:24 PM
masato sakurai 07 May 02 - 08:05 PM
GUEST 08 May 02 - 12:43 AM
Dave'sWife 22 Jan 06 - 03:13 AM
breezy 22 Jan 06 - 11:39 AM
Johnhenry'shammer 28 Jul 06 - 04:21 AM
Amos 28 Jul 06 - 09:54 AM
Johnhenry'shammer 28 Jul 06 - 03:13 PM
Big Al Whittle 29 Jul 06 - 10:13 AM
GUEST 29 Jul 06 - 12:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 29 Jul 06 - 01:32 PM
GUEST 30 Jul 06 - 11:06 AM
GUEST 30 Jul 06 - 12:33 PM
Emmet 173 11 Oct 08 - 05:23 PM
Ebbie 12 Oct 08 - 12:02 AM
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Subject: Origins: Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 May 02 - 02:10 PM

Recently I told a music group that I think I know the story behind the song: it was the husband who discovered his wife's and his best friend's perfidy and framed his friend in revenge.

One musician said, 'Well, that's ridiculous. Why wouldn't he have spoken up and said where he'd been?'

My notion, as I said at the time, is that there was a time when one would not admit adultery, much less admitting having cuckholded one's own best friend. The equivalent today might be pederasty: without being forced to, no one is going to admit to being a pedophile.

Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 02 - 02:33 PM

It seems pretty clear he's protecting the lady. And maybe also they are both trying to avoid hurting the husband/best friend.

I've sometimes thought of starting a rumour that it's all about Joe Hill, who was said to have an alibi which he didn't use because it would have meant betraying a lady. (Though in the witch-hunt atmosphere of the time it probably wouldn't have saved him anyway, even if he'd had a dozen alibis. There are modern day analogies to that as well.)


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Hrothgar
Date: 05 May 02 - 08:06 PM

A long time ago, I read a story about Joe Hill, the songwriter and IWW activist. It said that one of the reasons he was found guilty and executed was that his alibi couldn't be proved. One of the main pointers to his guilt was a bullet wound, because one of the people involved in the crime of which he was accused had been shot and wounded. He claimed that he had been shot in a fight over a woman whose name he was not prepared to reveal out of concern for her reputation.

This does make an interesting parallel, if one accepts the story. Mind you, it was told by somebody on the right side of politics, so it's credibility can be challenged, and I've never had the resources to dig into it myself.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 02 - 08:28 PM

By the right side of politics I take it you mean the left side of politics, as opposed to what I might perhaps tend to call call the wrong side of politics?


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: masato sakurai
Date: 05 May 02 - 08:49 PM

"The Long Black Veil (its full original title) was inspired by the real life murder of a New Jersey priest combined with newspaper accounts of a woman in a black veil who regularly visited Rudolph Valentino's grave. Dill and Wilkin set out to make it sound like an old Appalachian ballad so as to hang onto the coat tails of the then burgeoning folk music revival." (From THIS PAGE).

~Masato


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Hrothgar
Date: 05 May 02 - 09:48 PM

Well, actually, I mean that the left is the right side of politics, and the right is wrong. Of couse, if you take the left to be right, the right is left to be wrong.

:-))


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Anglo
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:01 AM

That's good, Hrothgar, very good. Now would you explain to all of us the rules of cricket :-)


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Gary T
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:12 AM

McGrath: It seems pretty clear he's protecting the lady. And maybe also they are both trying to avoid hurting the husband/best friend.

True, but that doesn't bear on Ebbie's notion. Hubbie may have found out and, without letting on he knew, set out to frame our singer, figuring he'd chose death over betraying his paramour. It's especially crafty, since in this scenario our lady's secret is already known to hubbie--but they don't know that!


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Joan from Wigan
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:13 AM

Thanks for that link, masato; as ever, you know exactly where to go for information.

Joan


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Subject: Origins: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:56 AM

Here's a quote from songwriter Danny Dill in Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy:
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 to look. So 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.
-Danny Dill-


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 May 02 - 01:27 AM

Gary T, exactly. I'm not looking at the song as a true story; I'm approaching it from the novelist's angle. And from that perspective, my scenario is eminently plausible.

BTW, does anyone think a woman repeatedly roaming the cemetery wearing a long black veil particularly inconspicuous? No one knows who the mystery woman is. Right.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Hrothgar
Date: 06 May 02 - 06:14 AM

No, Anglo. I can only tell you what they are.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,Cookieless UBED
Date: 06 May 02 - 08:54 AM

Thanks Masato! This makes the forum worthwhile!

Ed


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Peter T.
Date: 06 May 02 - 09:12 AM

Probably the slayer was the husband, dressed up to look like the lover (since he obviously was busy at the time), and being a best friend knew of the foolish nobility of his friend, and his wife's romanticism as well. Who he killed is the mystery.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 May 02 - 11:54 AM

Ah. Nobody cares about her. Now there is a fate: someone dies for my murder- and people sing about that- but no one remembers me. Talk about the ultimate rejection.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:01 PM

And I figure it's the murderous husband dressed up in the long black veil coming back to gloat over his departed friend.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:33 PM

I think the murderer is the same guy from "Ol Slew Foot" because people said that the bear looked a lot like him too. He was a shape-shifting mutant and killed his best friend to take his wife, who was really a transsexual male, and the woman who visits his grave is paid to mourn there, which of course is a reference to Ancient Greek funerary customs as illustrated on Greek Geometric Period vases.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 May 02 - 06:49 PM

LOL, Guest! And I like LesB's idea too of the veil-wearing murderous husband. So many stories, so little time...


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Stewie
Date: 06 May 02 - 06:51 PM

Here's a link to the page I use for searching archives of newsgroups. Put Long Black Veil in search box at top of page and dot 'search all groups' option. You will get info that Masato linked to [second hit] plus some 22000 others. You might find something of interest if you can be bothered sifting through the rubble.

Google search engine for newsgroup archives

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Jim Krause
Date: 06 May 02 - 07:03 PM

Now, my banjo pickin' buddy Claude Hammer insists that it's the dead guy who is talking to the audience from the grave. That makes it a real nice ghost story in his estimation.

For me it presents an unexplained shift in perspective. How come all of a sudden does the story shift from third person to first person? Personally, I think the narrator of the story saw the whole thing happen and knows the truth.

But there is support for Claude's point of view when in the chorus the lyric goes

She walks these hills
In a long black vail
She visits my grave
When the night winds wail.
Nobody knows, nobody sees.
Nobody knows but me.

Personally I've always had difficulty with that sort of unexplained shift in point of view.
Jim


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 May 02 - 09:01 PM

I've always assumed it's the dead guy who wouldn't rat on the lady friend who's telling the story. Just because you're dead doesn't mean you can't write a song.

As for the lady, I suppose, if you think she's stayed schtum to protect her poor old husband from knowing he's been betrayed, rather than because it would be pretty awkward to have to come out as an adulteress, maybe it's possible to sympathise with her. But I've often thought the song should end with the ghost confronting her as a hypocrite, going round in her long black veil and lamenting the guy whose death she brought about by keeping quiet.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 02 - 11:30 PM

Or possibly none of it happened, that it is just a figment of the imagination of a mentally-disturbed 13-year-old boy wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to death in circa 1920's Mississippi, and is dreamed moments before he is executed in the electric chair.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Jim Krause
Date: 07 May 02 - 12:36 AM

Ooh, I like that.
Jim


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Wolfgang
Date: 07 May 02 - 04:04 AM

And also this is a possibility: If you are a murderer without an alibi the story with the woman you want to protect is one of the best you can come up with when explaining why you choose not to mention who is the witness that could save your life. Some people might even believe you. You then go to the grave knowing that some doubts about your guilt remain.

They even might sing about you long after your death.

Just a possibility from knowledge of human nature, not with Joe Hill in mind.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 May 02 - 05:26 AM

Wolfgang: I think you are the first person in this thread who has spotted that the narrator of the song might not be telling the truth. Mudcatters tend to believe anything they read on the internet, or in this case anything they hear in a song, but I think you've got the measure of him. He wants people to believe what a noble sort of chap he is, so he's made up all this baloney to get our sympathy. I doubt if he ever shagged her, he probably wanted to but she wouldn't let him. Guilty as charged, for sure.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 May 02 - 05:39 AM

A lying ghost...A novel idea. But I don't quite get what the ghost's motive would be.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 May 02 - 05:57 AM

Motivation? Just to get a little sympathy from a lot of credulous folkies. All those "last goodnight" type ballads are attempts to present a selection of scoundrels as upright noble citizens wrongly found guilty by the wicked authorities, or forced into a life of crime by the nasty powerful men ( fancy coming up to someone "in a manner rather rude using vulgar words of language" eh, enough to turn anybody from the straight and narrow). Robin Hood, McPherson, Captain Kidd, Pretty Boy Floyd, Armstrong, they were all up to it, and now this whining Black Veil type. Pshaw, I say. Give me Sam Hall anytime, he took it on the chin and spat in their eyes.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 May 02 - 06:13 AM

The thing that is different about the Long Black Veil is that it isn't a last goodnight song imagined as sung on the gallows or the night before execution or whatever - the song is envisaged as being sung by the dead man long after he is dead and buried. I can't think of any other songs which take that approach. Plenty of songs where accusing ghosts crop up, but that's not the same thing.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Wolfgang
Date: 07 May 02 - 06:14 AM

I didn't read it as 'lying ghost' but as the last song of someone who knows he's going to die and the last verse is just a glimpse to the future. Motivation? To make those who condemned you feel guilty.

My motivation for the new angle? Nothing but the realisation that the sentence 'I can't tell her name' tells nothing about the truth. It is just the sentence to be expected to hear whether it's true or not.

Former German chancellor Kohl asked how to account for some Million marks too much in the books of the CDU said he has given his word of honour to the donators not to mention their names at any cost. Well, that could even be true but assuming he lies that's one of the best lies he can invent for nobody really dares to challenge your word of honour.

Somehow I'm inclined to believe Joe Hill and to disbelieve Helmut Kohl, but that's just prejudice.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Hrothgar
Date: 07 May 02 - 06:47 AM

Perhaps the woman's husband knew anyway, they were swingers. The narrator of the song just did more swinging...


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Ebbie
Date: 07 May 02 - 05:54 PM

And the woman in the long, black veil roaming the night suffered amnesia- she wasn't sure she had done it?

Love the postulations. It's a vivid song, lending itself to all kinds of scenarios. Wonder if the writer was aware of its ambiguity?


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 May 02 - 06:21 PM

Masato, I would have doubts about anything Peter Viney writes- your click May 5 about the "Long Black Veil." In the same article he says that Dill wrote "The Streets of Laredo" (which, of course, is late 19th C.).
Dill is the author of the "Long Black Veil" but Viney often writes off the top of his head and cannot always be believed.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Song Dog
Date: 07 May 02 - 07:24 PM

I must have missed the "BS" in the subject title LOL


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: masato sakurai
Date: 07 May 02 - 08:05 PM

Dicho, I don't understand what Viney was saying about the "composer" of "The Streets of Laredo", either. Just read Danny Hill's comment, which Joe quoted above from Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 08 May 02 - 12:43 AM

OR...it could be just a SONG...imagine that


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 22 Jan 06 - 03:13 AM

quote:
>>>Subject: Origins: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Joe Offer - PM
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:56 AM

Here's a quote from songwriter Danny Dill in Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy:
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 to look. So 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.
-Danny Dill-<<<

OK Joe, now I'd have to think that the murder of a Priest in NJ with 50 witnesses would be as famous as the Kitty Genovese murder. So when did this priest get murdered and where? I figured, Catholic NYC guy that you are, you'd be the best fella to ask. You or Sinsull.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: breezy
Date: 22 Jan 06 - 11:39 AM

One of the Scottish widows perhaps?


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 28 Jul 06 - 04:21 AM

I think that Dill could just be claiming he wrote the song, which was a common practice for people who recorded certain folk songs after they became famous. I heard somewhere that after the Carter Family made "Worried Man Blues" famous, there were about 5 or 6 different copyright claims (including one from A.P. Carter himself).

Let's focus on the woman in the black veil for a moment. I've always thought of her as the best friend's wife. At the hanging, she "sheds not a tear" (in my opinion to keep up the facade) yet some nights she visits the dead man's grave wearing a long black veil which is a traditional sign of deep mourning. It also said that she cries during these visits. This all leads me to believe that she is unhappy with her marriage to the best friend and she really was in love with the man who is now dead. Now I don't think that the husband is the real killer because framing his best friend for the crime is too complicated. He would have simply killed either his wife, his best friend, or both.

Check out the tense changes in the last verse...kind of odd. The first two lines talk as if he's standing on the scafold looking out into the crowd but then he says that sometimes this woman visits his already burried body. What do you all make of that?


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Amos
Date: 28 Jul 06 - 09:54 AM

The tense change is consistent with the overall story being told byu one already dead - i.e., back then she stood in the crowd; but nowadays, she visits my grave.

A


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 28 Jul 06 - 03:13 PM

But he's not saying she stood in the crowd but rather she stands in the crowd.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 10:13 AM

we had a seance last night, and learned the following.

actually the woman goes to the chip shop every night, and takes a short cut through the graveyard,. she's not crying over his bones, she singing - and she's just got that sort of voice.

the deceased is sorry for any confusion his previous remarks might have caused. however the view is not good from six foot under, and he got mixed up.

and yes, he did it.


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 12:30 PM

I'm a small press writer --note: _not_ self-published-- and live in Rowan County KY.

My first novel was "Home Call"; "Nobody Knows, Nobody Sees" is a sequel. My real motivation wasn't so much that a number of people who read the first novel wanted to see another one, as my own curiosity about what happened to the characters in the first book.

I'm satisfied with how I do character and dialogue, but am _real_ weak when it comes to plotting.

Plots ain't copyrighted, so I stole the one from "The Long Black Veil." I heard Left Frizell's version of the song as a kid and thought it one of the spookiest things I ever heard. like so many others, for decades I believed it was a traditional ballad.

None of which likely interests anybody, but now, for at least one version of the story, I know who the killer was. . .

Bob
Rowan County KY


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 01:32 PM

come on Rob - don't be niggardly of the facts. Who are you? Where can we get the book. who publishes it.

we're all shameless self publicists around here - nobody will be offended some of us will try and get the book!


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 11:06 AM

> weelittledrummer wrote:

> come on Rob - don't be niggardly of the facts. Who are you? Where can we get
> the book. who publishes it.

I'm Bob Sloan, in Rowan County KY.

Wind Publications, in Nicholasville KY puts my stuff out. They're the archetypical "small literary press."

Amazon's got the book, and it's in Ingram's catalog so pretty much any book store can order it. Amazon's page for it is at http://tinyurl.com/z8es9 The ISBN, which some bookstores will want, is 189323956X

It's a trade paperback, sixteen bucks, though Amazon discounts it to thirteen.

> we're all shameless self publicists around here - nobody will be offended some of
> us will try and get the book

Well, of course anybody getting the book will be much appreciated, but that wasn't what got me to Mud Cat.

Thanks for asking about it though.

Bob
Rowan County KY


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 12:33 PM

Masato - you can lead a mudcatter to knowledge, but you can't make them drink! or Think!


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Emmet 173
Date: 11 Oct 08 - 05:23 PM

Thanks to all...it was a lively discussion, and I learned a lot about the the Long Balck Veil....


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Subject: RE: The Story Behind The Long Black Veil
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Oct 08 - 12:02 AM

"Check out the tense changes in the last verse...kind of odd. The first two lines talk as if he's standing on the scafold looking out into the crowd but then he says that sometimes this woman visits his already burried body. What do you all make of that? " johnhenryshammer (2006)

I think the explanation for the tense changes is that in the grave time is only NOW.


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