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Songs about capital punishment.

The Sandman 30 Jan 23 - 10:28 AM
The Sandman 30 Jan 23 - 10:18 AM
GeoffLawes 29 Jan 23 - 05:22 PM
Felipa 29 Jan 23 - 11:09 AM
GeoffLawes 27 Jan 23 - 07:28 PM
GeoffLawes 27 Jan 23 - 07:25 PM
GUEST 26 Jan 23 - 07:44 PM
GUEST 26 Jan 23 - 07:38 PM
Felipa 19 Jan 23 - 08:50 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 08:13 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 08:09 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 08:05 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 07:49 AM
GeoffLawes 19 Jan 23 - 04:54 AM
Tim K 18 Jan 23 - 11:53 PM
Felipa 10 Jan 23 - 02:02 PM
GeoffLawes 10 Jan 23 - 11:19 AM
Felipa 08 Jan 23 - 08:05 PM
Felipa 08 Jan 23 - 07:56 PM
Felipa 08 Jan 23 - 07:38 PM
Felipa 08 Jan 23 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,Morgana 02 Jan 12 - 06:33 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jan 12 - 01:26 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,AEOLA 02 Jan 12 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 05:47 AM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 05:05 PM
Owen Woodson 01 Jan 12 - 02:57 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jan 12 - 12:26 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM
Max Johnson 01 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 31 Dec 11 - 06:19 PM
Mark Ross 31 Dec 11 - 03:45 PM
Stringsinger 31 Dec 11 - 03:11 PM
Owen Woodson 31 Dec 11 - 03:08 PM
Big Al Whittle 31 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM
Rog Peek 29 Dec 07 - 02:25 PM
Stringsinger 29 Dec 07 - 12:54 PM
Joe_F 28 Dec 07 - 08:57 PM
markpde 28 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Frank 22 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM
erinmaidin 22 Feb 05 - 04:04 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Feb 05 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,Bonnie 21 Feb 05 - 05:08 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM
Charley Noble 21 Feb 05 - 03:41 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 02:27 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 02:26 PM
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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 23 - 10:28 AM

stagolee.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 23 - 10:18 AM

Sam Hal
lack Hall, a real person, also known as Sam Hall - chimney sweep, chimney sweep, was sold to a chimney sweep by his parents, for a pound or thereabouts. But he quickly decided that being a thief was a much more profitable, and safer, profession, even if he did end up being hanged. While waiting in prison for his end he wrote a dictionary of cant and criminal slang, and now appears in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 29 Jan 23 - 05:22 PM

Desolation Row - Bob Dylan     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUvcWXTIjcU


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Felipa
Date: 29 Jan 23 - 11:09 AM

songs about crucifixion include
Ballad of the Carpenter (Ewan MacColl)

Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire

The Old Rugged Cross (George Bennard), though that song is less focussed on the actual execution than are the other two songs cited. All three links are to Mudcat discussion threads.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 27 Jan 23 - 07:28 PM

Down in The Willow Garden from Wikipedia     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_in_the_Willow_Garden


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 27 Jan 23 - 07:25 PM

DOWN IN THE WILLOW GARDEN   aka ROSE CONNOLLY
Down in The Willow Garden from Wikipedia    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_in_the_Willow_Garden
Various recordings of ” Down in the Willow Garden” on YouTube    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Down+in+the+Willow+Garden++song
Various recordings of ”Rose Connolly” on YouTube    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Rose+Connolly++song


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jan 23 - 07:44 PM

Working link to recordings of “Spanish Johnny “on YouTube     https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%E2%80%9CSpanish+Johnny+%E2%80%9C+


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

SPANISH JOHNNY Many recordings of “Spanish Johnny “on YouTube     /mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=19540

The old West, the old time,
The old wind singing through
The red, red grass a thousand miles— And, Spanish Johnny, you!
He'd sit beside the water ditch
When all his herd was in,
And never mind a child, but sing
To his mandolin.

The big stars, the blue night,
The moon-enchanted lane;
The olive man who never spoke,
But sang the songs of Spain.
His speech with men was wicked talk— To hear it was a sin;
But those were golden things he said
To his mandolin.

The gold songs, the gold stars,
The word so golden then;
And the hand so tender to a child—
Had killed so many men.
He died a hard death long ago
Before the Road came in—
The night before he swung, he sang
To his mandolin.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment. Cat lyric link
From: Felipa
Date: 19 Jan 23 - 08:50 AM

Brian Peters gave links to youtube.I found lyrics to Ellis Unit 1 on Mudcat. Since the relevant thread title is Steve Earl Death Row Song, I've also added Billy Austin lyrics to that thread. The link is
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=60891

and here is a link for the Origins: John Hardy discussion
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=52732


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Jan 23 - 08:13 AM

One more suggestion: I'm surprised that no-one has yet mentioned 'John Hardy'...

Leadbelly: John Hardy


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Jan 23 - 08:09 AM

And another one from Steve, on a similar theme:

Steve Earle: Billy Austin


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Jan 23 - 08:05 AM

Here is Steve Earle performing a song about a Death Row prison guard to an audience of prisoners at the Cold Creek Correctional Facility. Very powerful.

Ellis Unit 1


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Jan 23 - 07:49 AM

As a guest called 'cittern' mentioned twenty years ago, Steve Earle has long been a vocal opponent of the death penalty and has spent time with Death Row prisoners. To 'Ellis Unit One', mentioned previously, you can add 'Over Yonder'

Over Yonder (Jonathan's Song)

The warden said he'd mail my letter
The chaplain's waitin' by the door
Tonight we'll cross the yard together
Then they can't hurt me anymore.

I am going over yonder
Where no ghost can follow me
There's another place beyond here
Where I'll be free I believe.

Give my radio to Johnson
Thibodeaux can have my fan
Send my Bible home to Mama
Call her every now and then.

I suppose I got it comin'
I can't ever pay enough
All my rippin' and a runnin'
I hurt everyone I loved.

The world'll turn around without me
The sun'll come up in the east
Shinin' down on all of them that hate me
I hope my goin' brings 'em peace.

You can read Steve's account of the background to the song here:
Death in Texas


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 19 Jan 23 - 04:54 AM

Many recording of” c MaPherson's Lament “YouTube     https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=MacPherson%27s+Lament+song >


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Tim K
Date: 18 Jan 23 - 11:53 PM

Woody Guthrie's Slipknot! My notes say it was recorded in 1944, and collected on The Asch Recordings and Old Time Religion, among others.

Slipknot (Hangknot)

Did you ever see a hangman tie a slipknot? (x2)
Yes, I've seen it many a time — he winds, and he winds
After 13 times, he's got a slipknot

Will that slipknot slip? No, it will not (x2)
It'll slip around your neck, but it won't slip back again
That slipknot, lord god, that slipknot

Did you ever lose a brother on that slipknot? (x2)
Yes my brother was a slave, he tried to escape
They drug him to his grave with a slipknot

Did you ever lose your father to a slipknot? (x2)
Yes they hung him from a pole, and they shot him full of holes
And they left him there to rot on that slipknot

(Tell me) who makes the laws for that slipknot? (x2)
Who says who is going to the calaboose
To get the hangman's noose, or the slipknot?

I don't know who makes the law for that slipknot (x2)
But the bones of many a man are whistling in the wind
Because they tied their laws with a slipknot (Repeat verse)

The chords, written out Rise Up Singing style, are:
        C – / C G7 / CC7 F / G7 C


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Subject: Lyr Add: Sing Me Back Home
From: Felipa
Date: 10 Jan 23 - 02:02 PM

I abandoned my post about Sing Me Back home (mentioned in this discussion by T Jacques back in 1998), but since part of it was transmitted, here are lyrics copied from https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/merle-haggard/sing-me-back-home-chords-70514

SING ME BACK HOME
Merle Haggard


    A            E                D             A

The warden led a prisoner down the hallway to his doom

       A                               E

I stood up to say goodbye like all the rest

      A                  E             D                A

And I heard him tell the warden just before he reached my cell

       A             E               A

'Let my guitar playing friend do my request.' (Let him...)





[Chorus]



A            E          D             A

Sing me back home with a song I used to hear

A                         E

Make my old memories come alive

A       E       D             A

Take me away and turn back the years

A            E             A

Sing me back home before I die





[Verse]



      A             E            D               A

I recall last Sunday morning a choir from off the street

    A                            E

Came in to sing a few old gospel songs

      A                   E                D            A

And I heard him tell the singers 'There's a song my mama sang.

       A             E               A

Could I hear it once before you move along?' (Won't you...)





[Chorus]



A            E          D             A

Sing me back home with a song I used to hear

A                         E

Make my old memories come alive

A       E       D             A

Take me away and turn back the years

A            E             A

Sing me back home before I die



A            E             D    A

Sing me back home before I die

Recordings, videos:
sung by Don Williams
sung by Merle Haggard lyrics on screen


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 10 Jan 23 - 11:19 AM

The Maid Freed from the Gallows / The Prickly Bush / The Prickle-Holly Bush / Prickle-Eye Bush / The Golden Ball     https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/themaidfreedfromthegallows.html


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Subject: Lyr Add: Sing Me Back Home
From: Felipa
Date: 08 Jan 23 - 08:05 PM

cited by T.Jacques in 1998


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Felipa
Date: 08 Jan 23 - 07:56 PM

correction to the lyrics of Last Hanging in West Virginia - The date, of course, should be the sixteenth of December in Eighteen ninety-seven, 1897

I need to look more carefully at what I copy and paste, to correct errors in the original before posting

(can someone fix that line and then delete this post? note that the final "th" was missing from "sixteenth", as well as the year being 3 centuries premature)


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Felipa
Date: 08 Jan 23 - 07:38 PM

HANG 'EM ALL       Tom T. Hall

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 living here
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 of problem solved like this

There's a thief in your town, Mister; this morning my milk was gone
There's a thief in your town. Mister; how long has this been going on?
If they hang 'em all they get the guilty...

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?
If they hang 'em all they get the guilty...

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
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
If they hang 'em all they get the guilty...

recording by Tom T. Hall


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Felipa
Date: 08 Jan 23 - 07:33 PM

elsewhere on Mudcat:

25 Minutes to Go (Shel Silverstein)

Roddy McCorley
-----------------------------------------
lyrics of a song cited in July 2003 by "Padre"

The Flatt and Scruggs recording attributes tune and lyrics to "T.Hall" (probably Tom T. Hall, a prolific and professionally successful songwriter)

THE LAST PUBLIC HANGING IN WEST VIRGINIA   

Rock of ages cleft for me
Now that could be the voice of John F Morgan in the
Ripley jailhouse singin' hymns
Well ol' Johnny might just be singin' hymn this mornin'
Cause this is gonna be a hangin' day for him
Now people say that Johnny was a bad man and that he
had a aim for bein' mean
He took a hatchet one cold weary morning he killed
two children and the widow Green
Five thousand people gathered there in Ripley invited
by the sheriff Jay O Sean
Havin' fun and drinking moonshine liquor and listenin'
to ol' Johnny singin' hymn
The day dawned cold in Ripley West Virginia the scaffold
stood in silence in a field
Johnny kept on singin' in the jailhouse waiting there to eat his final meal
Then rumor started flying through the gathering
That John F Morgan might get his reprieve
The people started yelling toward the sheriff
Afraid they'd miss for all they come to see
But Jay O Sean the sheriff of Jackson County
Afraid that such a thing could have been done
Said I said there was gonna be a hangin' and I still
mean it there's a gonna be one
They led John Morgan from the Ripley jailhouse
And he rode through the happy laughin' crowd
But when John Morgan stepped upon the scaffold
They grew quiet when he tip his hat and bowed
They listened to the preacher say the last words
They fixed the noose and tied John Morgan's hand
The signal came and someone sprang the dead's trap
And sent John Morgan to another land
The last public hanging in old West Virginia a true
story written in this song
On the sixteen of December in fifteen ninety seven

TabLyrics.com

recording by Flatt and Scruggs
performance by Dave Evans

video reportage of the hanging
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-UyxBb55zU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN0iM8LaidY
and associated printed educational material https://archive.wvculture.org/history/timetrl/ttdec.html#1216


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Morgana
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 06:33 PM

There is a song called "Poor Boy," which deals with a fight between a woman's two lovers. At the end, the narrator kills his rival, but must hang.

"And yet they call this 'justice' poor boy,
then justice let it be.
I only killed a man that was
a-fixin' to kill me."

I assume this is traditional. I think it has a couple different versions.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 01:26 PM

Okay, who wrote this?

Hang 'Em High

(Essential for any harmonica player's repertoire, I think).

That video credits it to Dominic Frontiere. So does his Wikipedia page. Other sources credit it to Hugo Montenegro. My guess is that Montenegro just did an arrangement, is that right?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM

I'll check Leader for ballads of György Dózsa as soon as I get the time.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 01:04 PM

Jack, there is indeed a reference to László Fehér in this thread, but I can't see any text previous to the one I posted.

In any event, thanks for reminding me of the Encyclopaedia of Hungarian Ethnology and Folklore. I Picked a copy up in a charity shop once for £4-00, which was amazingly cheap considering the size of the thing and the weightiness of the content.

There's also Ninon Leader's book on Hungarian Folk Ballads of course, which I'm almost certain contains a study of LF.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,AEOLA
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 12:45 PM

There is a light hearted song loosely connected to CP called ' ROUGH JUSTICE' by His Worship & The Pig and as someone mentioned earlier it is in support of CP!!


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,999
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 06:02 AM

From Tom Paxton's song, 'What Did You Learn in School Today?':

I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make a mistake sometimes


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,999
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 05:47 AM

Mark Ross: I'd guess the song was Death Row.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 05:05 PM

Owen we have already had László Fehér (spelt more accurately) upthread.

very long version

Another Hungarian one is György Dózsa:

Executed Today

from a site that has a lot of execution folklore. There must be ballads about Dózsa but I haven't heard or read one.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 02:57 PM

"A bit of googling suggests there are possibly hundreds of Balkan ballads (mostly from Serbia) about people being impaled on stakes up the bum".

Can't say I've ever come across any impaling ballads, but there are quite a few Bulgarian ballads about people being interred inside walls for various misdemeanours.

Then of course there's that very fine Hungarian ballad, Laszlo Thea, about a girl (Anna Theya), who agrees to sleep with a judge if he'll set her brother free.

Laszlo Thea stole a stallion,
Stole him from the Misty Mountain.
And they sought him they caught him.
And in iron chains they bound him

Word was brought to Anna Thea,
That her brother lay in prison.
Bring me gold and six white horses.
I will buy my brother's freedom.

Judge, oh judge, please spare my brother.
I will give you gold and silver.
I don't want your gold and silver.
All I want is your sweet favour.

Anna Thea, oh my sister,
Are you mad with grief and sorrow?
He will rob you of your flower,
And he'll hang me from the gallows.

Anna Thea did not heed him,
To that judge she came a-running.
In his golden bed at midnight,
There she heard the gallows groaning

Anna Thea, Anna Thea.
Do not go into the forest.
There among the green pines standing.
You will find your brother hanging.

Cursed be that judge so cruel.
Thirteen years may he lie bleeding.
Thirteen doctors can't heal him.
Thirteen shelves of drugs can't heal him.

Laszlo Thea stole a stallion.
Stole him from the Misty Mountains.
And they sought him and they caught him
And they hung him from the gallows.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 12:26 PM

Yup and i bet Serbia's answer to Martin Carthy knows all of them.

Oh I am a merry spikeman
And you can call me Seamus
Oh how I like, to get a spike
And shove it up your anus.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM

A bit of googling suggests there are possibly hundreds of Balkan ballads (mostly from Serbia) about people being impaled on stakes up the bum.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Max Johnson
Date: 01 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM

Threadbare Consort recorded the 'The Scaffold' on 'Wearing Thin' album.

'Hark to the clinking of hammers, hark to the driving of nails.
Men are erecting a gallows in one of Her Majesty's gaols.
A life - a man's life to be taken, which the Crown and the hangman hail.
And men are erecting a scaffold in one of Her Majesty's gaols.'

later...

'His strong frame in agony quivers. His breast, how wildly it heaves.
His arms closely are pinioned. The Hangman himself almost screams...'

Phew! Strong stuff.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 06:19 PM

Well, there's these.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Mark Ross
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 03:45 PM

When I was in summer camp (in the Jurassic Age), one of my counselors sang a song about Caryl Chessman, to the tune of MacColl's TIM EVANS. Anyone else know it? I think I remember seeing it in SingOut! years later.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 03:11 PM

Ewan McColl's "Go Down Ye Murderers"


The Ballad of Tim Evans
(Ewan MacColl)

Tim Evans was a prisoner,
Fast in his prison cell
And those who read about his crimes,
They damned his soul to hell,
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

For the murder of his own dear wife
And the killing of his own child
The jury found him guilty
And the hangin' judge, he smiled.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

Tim Evans pleaded innocent
And he swore by Him on high,
That he never killed his own dear wife
Nor caused his child to die.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

The governor came in one day
And the chaplain by his side,
Said, "Your appeal has been turned down,
Prepare yourself to die."
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They moved him out of C-block
To his final flowery dell,
And day and night two screws were there
And they never left his cell.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

Sometimes they played draughts with him
And solo and pontoon,
To stop him brooding on the rope
That was to be his doom.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They brought his grub in on a tray,
There was eggs and meat and ham,
And all the snout that he could smoke
Was there at his command.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

Tim Evans walked in the prison yard
And the screws, they walked behind;
And he saw the sky above the wall
But he knew no peace of mind.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They came for him at eight o'clock
And the chaplain read a prayer
And then they marched him to that place
Where the hangman did prepare.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

The rope was fixed around his neck
And a washer behind his ear.
The prison bell was tolling
But Tim Evans did not hear.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

A thousand lags were cursing
And a-banging on the doors;
But Evans couldn't hear them,
He was deaf for ever more.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

They sent Tim Evans to the drop
For a crime he did not do.
It was Christy was the murderer
And the judge and jury too.
   Sayin', "Go down, you murderers, go down."


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 03:08 PM

Rog Peek's attribution of the authorship of Derek Bentley to Ewan MacColl has been on this thread for several years. However, I have only just seen it. The author was Karl Dallas, not Ewan MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM

my effort

http://www.bigalwhittle.co.uk/id59.html


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Subject: RE: ADD Lyrics: DEREK BENTLEY (Ewan McColl)
From: Rog Peek
Date: 29 Dec 07 - 02:25 PM

DEREK BENTLEY
(Ewan McColl)

It's of a great adventure, to you that I will tell,
Of how they hanged a half-grown lad and how it all befell.

Chorus
It was guns and comics, films of war that made his education.

Young Craig and Derek Bentley, they went out in the night,
With gun and knuckleduster just for to see them right.

Chorus
They climbed upon the roof so high and then looked all around
And there they saw the men of law all gathered on the ground.

Chorus
"Look out, we're caught" young Bentley cried, "our robbin' days are done"
"I'll see no prison" Craig replied, "while I've still got my gun".

Chorus
He stood upon the roof so high and he looked all around
And shouted to them, men of law, all gathered on the ground.

Chorus
"Stay down and stay alive" he cried, "keep clear of me" he said.
"Come up that stair another step and you'll go down it dead".

Chorus
He was just a half-grown frightened lad who couldn't read or write,
But standing there with gun in hand he terrorised the night.

Chorus
The men came up to take him down, he pressed the trigger tight,
He shot the first one dead and then jumped down into the night.

Chorus
Young Craig he was a killer, for he shot the p'liceman dead,
But he was just too young to hang, the magistrates they said.

Chorus
At nine o'clock one Wednesday, they took young Bentley out,
And made a noose of hemp and rope and put it round his throat.

Chorus
It's true as you have often heard, that in this land today,
They hang the little criminals and let the big go free.

Notes:
On 28th January Derek Bentley was hanged for his part in the murder of Police constable Sidney Miles during an attempted robbery. Derek Bentley whose accomplice Chistopher Craig shot and killed PC Miles was granted a pardon by the court of appeal on 30th July 1998. At the time of the trial, Craig had been under 18 and therefore too young to be hanged.
RPdec07


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Dec 07 - 12:54 PM

"This time tomorrow, reckon where I'll be?
Down in some lonesome valley,
Hangin' from a white oak tree.....(Tom Dooley)

"I saw my Molly in the crowd, in the crowd
I saw my Molly in the crowd, in the crowd.
I saw my Molly in the crowd, in the crowd
And I hollered right out loud,
Molly ain't you proud, god damn your eyes."

"And the preacher he did come, he did come.
And the preacher he did come, he did come.
And the preacher he did come, he did come,
And he looked so bloody glum,
He can kiss my ruddy bum, god damn his eyes." (Sam Hall)

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Joe_F
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 08:57 PM

I think my favorites are the "no regrets" songs: Sam Hall and (mentioned once above) The Night before Larry Was Stretched, which explores one advantage of capital punishment: you can be at your own wake.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: markpde
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM

Just signed up to Mudcat. This thread seems to have run out in 2005, so there may be no-one to read this, but anyway...

I found Mudcat by asking Google for "The Easter Tree". I heard it on June Tabor's Ashes and Diamonds album, but the cassette tape broke years ago (halfway through the marvellous 'No Man's Land' - aargh!!! - although I've since found that on her 'Greatest Hits' CD) and I had to rewind it into a blank cassette; I've long since lost the cassette's box, so for all those years I thought it was just 'traditional', the writer being 'Anon' (I now know that it was Dave Goulder). It's an unswervingly grim song (given the subject matter, that's inevitable), but I've always thought it was one of the finest songs ever written.

Just to lighten up (!), an English poet called John Cooper Clarke (aka The Bard of Salford) wrote a poem about hanging in the seventies. I recorded it off John Peel's Radio 1 Show away back then and no longer have the cassette, so this is from memory. His poems were set to music, although he never actually sang (presumably because he couldn't), so they may not even qualify as songs (I might get kicked off this forum before I've even got started).

Can't quite remember all of the first verse, but the jist of it is that the writer is bored with the news in the papers and decides to "sit right down and write a letter to the Sun*, saying, "Bring back hanging... for everyone."

*for those who don't know, a trashy tabloid newspaper in the UK, notorious for headlines such as, on the sinking of the Argentine warship The General Belgrano, in the Falklands War, GOTCHA! and, after a pit lane fire (horrifying but miraculously inconsequential) involving a Benneton Formula 1 car, THE IGNITED COLORS OF BENNETON...

So, the second verse goes:

They took my advice, they brought it back
National costume was all-over black
There were corpses in the avenues and cul-de-sacs
Piled up neatly in six man stacks
Hanging from the traffic lights in specially made racks
They'd hang you for incontinence or fiddling your tax
Failure to hang yourself justified the axe
A-deedly-dee, a-deedly-dum
Looks like they've brought back hanging... for everyone

Then it turns sour...

The novelty's gone; it's hell
This place is a death cell
The constant clang of the funeral bells
Those who aren't hanging are hanging someone else
The people pay, the paper sells
Its plug-ugly, sub-animal yells
Death is unsightly; death smells
Swinging Britain? Don't put me on
Looks like they've brought back the rope... for everyone

At the end, the writer is heard (presumably) being dragged away to his execution, vociferously protesting his innocence: "I didn't break your window!!!..."

Oh, and the poem/song (whatever) was called, "Suspended Sentence"...


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM

Roger, good song! I too would like to hear the tune. Let us know.

Great thread. There is the traditional "Hangman, Slack your Rope" . Hanging is a kind of capital punishment. "Strange Fruit" would fall into that category IMHO.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: erinmaidin
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 04:04 PM

There was an album released shortly after the movie "Dead Man Walking" which features some very good songs pertaining to the subject of capital punishment. One that comes to mind and is very haunting is Steve Earle's "Ellis Unit One".


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 04:00 PM

no one gets topped in the version of black velvet band that I sang for many years and still do when the drunken occasion demands.

and yes its a different song to the long black veil. just the black in the titles unites these two great songs - as far as I know.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Bonnie
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 05:08 PM

No one seems to have mentioned "Long Black Veil" which Johnny Cash once sang. Another one is "Black Velvet Band" which is not only about capital punishment but also betrayal by a woman.

Or are those one and the same?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM

And of course Laszlo Feher has a rape(Forced seduction) AND a hanging for horse stealing !


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 03:41 PM

I really did sift through this entire thread, gang, but I don't think anyone has mentioned the old sea shanty "They Calls Me Hanging Johney."

Of course, he sometimes admits in the last verse that "he never hanged nobody."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 02:27 PM

And 100 by the way !


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 02:26 PM

Strange Fruit is strictly speaking NOT a capital Punishment song as it is in fact about Lynching !!


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