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Songs about capital punishment.

The Shambles 19 Dec 98 - 08:02 AM
Dani 19 Dec 98 - 08:25 AM
Liam's Brother 19 Dec 98 - 10:28 AM
The Shambles 19 Dec 98 - 10:47 AM
Liam's Brother 19 Dec 98 - 12:34 PM
The Shambles 19 Dec 98 - 01:49 PM
rich r 19 Dec 98 - 06:38 PM
BSeed 19 Dec 98 - 10:41 PM
rich r 19 Dec 98 - 10:45 PM
Sandy Paton 19 Dec 98 - 11:29 PM
Art Thieme 19 Dec 98 - 11:40 PM
Art Thieme 19 Dec 98 - 11:53 PM
Art Thieme 20 Dec 98 - 12:08 AM
Sandy Paton 20 Dec 98 - 12:19 AM
Jon W. 20 Dec 98 - 12:43 AM
Charlie Baum 20 Dec 98 - 01:48 AM
BSeed 20 Dec 98 - 03:29 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 20 Dec 98 - 02:38 PM
The Shambles 20 Dec 98 - 03:52 PM
rich r 20 Dec 98 - 07:14 PM
20 Dec 98 - 07:41 PM
harpgirl 20 Dec 98 - 07:57 PM
BSeed 20 Dec 98 - 08:04 PM
Pete M 20 Dec 98 - 08:32 PM
Greg F. 20 Dec 98 - 08:39 PM
Roger in Baltimore 20 Dec 98 - 08:46 PM
harpgirl 20 Dec 98 - 09:41 PM
Barry Finn 20 Dec 98 - 09:46 PM
Barry Finn 20 Dec 98 - 11:42 PM
O'Boyle 21 Dec 98 - 02:18 AM
carverconroy@beaufort.com 01 Apr 99 - 12:28 PM
Bert 01 Apr 99 - 01:18 PM
DonMeixner 01 Apr 99 - 03:24 PM
Den 01 Apr 99 - 05:22 PM
Bob Schwarer 01 Apr 99 - 06:14 PM
Susan A-R 01 Apr 99 - 09:41 PM
Jerry Friedman 02 Apr 99 - 04:05 PM
Jerry Friedman 02 Apr 99 - 04:38 PM
MAG (inactive) 02 Apr 99 - 05:46 PM
Bruce O. 02 Apr 99 - 06:08 PM
02 Apr 99 - 06:20 PM
skw@worldmusic.de 13 Apr 99 - 05:01 AM
AlistairUK 13 Apr 99 - 07:11 AM
AlistairUK 13 Apr 99 - 07:12 AM
Sandy Paton 13 Apr 99 - 01:34 PM
Gene 13 Apr 99 - 08:44 PM
Susan A-R 13 Apr 99 - 11:02 PM
reggie miles 13 Apr 99 - 11:24 PM
Mark Clark 13 Apr 99 - 11:54 PM
northfolk/al cholger 14 Apr 99 - 12:08 AM
GUEST,Nancy Blevins 15 Feb 00 - 12:28 AM
Sorcha 15 Feb 00 - 12:37 AM
Joe Offer 15 Feb 00 - 01:23 AM
Callie 15 Feb 00 - 01:51 AM
Metchosin 15 Feb 00 - 04:07 AM
AKS 15 Feb 00 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 15 Feb 00 - 06:25 AM
GeorgeH 15 Feb 00 - 06:42 AM
The Shambles 15 Feb 00 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 15 Feb 00 - 09:19 AM
Peg 15 Feb 00 - 10:47 AM
Charlie Baum 15 Feb 00 - 11:21 AM
Willie-O 15 Feb 00 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 15 Feb 00 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 16 Feb 00 - 06:34 AM
The Shambles 16 Feb 00 - 09:58 AM
The Shambles 18 Mar 00 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,The Beanster 18 Mar 00 - 12:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Pamela 30 Jul 03 - 06:03 PM
akenaton 30 Jul 03 - 06:41 PM
SINSULL 30 Jul 03 - 10:27 PM
Padre 30 Jul 03 - 11:21 PM
GUEST,cittern 31 Jul 03 - 03:53 AM
GUEST 31 Jul 03 - 02:58 PM
Gareth 31 Jul 03 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,Brother 31 Jul 03 - 07:20 PM
toadfrog 31 Jul 03 - 07:46 PM
HuwG 01 Aug 03 - 01:14 AM
Red and White Rabbit 01 Aug 03 - 09:24 AM
GUEST 01 Aug 03 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,Mary Ann 01 Aug 03 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,Mary Ann 01 Aug 03 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Sara 01 Aug 03 - 03:55 PM
Nigel Parsons 01 Aug 03 - 04:12 PM
Gareth 01 Aug 03 - 04:33 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 01 Aug 03 - 07:51 PM
The Shambles 02 Aug 03 - 03:04 AM
GUEST 02 Sep 03 - 02:24 AM
The Shambles 02 Sep 03 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Gibson 19 Aug 04 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 20 Aug 04 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,lengeft 20 Feb 05 - 06:55 PM
Peace 20 Feb 05 - 09:12 PM
goodbar 21 Feb 05 - 02:43 AM
Clifton53 21 Feb 05 - 10:06 AM
pavane 21 Feb 05 - 11:31 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Feb 05 - 01:19 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 02:26 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 02:27 PM
Charley Noble 21 Feb 05 - 03:41 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Bonnie 21 Feb 05 - 05:08 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Feb 05 - 04:00 PM
erinmaidin 22 Feb 05 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Frank 22 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM
markpde 28 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM
Joe_F 28 Dec 07 - 08:57 PM
Stringsinger 29 Dec 07 - 12:54 PM
Rog Peek 29 Dec 07 - 02:25 PM
Big Al Whittle 31 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM
Owen Woodson 31 Dec 11 - 03:08 PM
Stringsinger 31 Dec 11 - 03:11 PM
Mark Ross 31 Dec 11 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 31 Dec 11 - 06:19 PM
Max Johnson 01 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jan 12 - 12:26 PM
Owen Woodson 01 Jan 12 - 02:57 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 12 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,999 02 Jan 12 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,AEOLA 02 Jan 12 - 12:45 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:04 PM
Owen Woodson 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jan 12 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Morgana 02 Jan 12 - 06:33 PM
Felipa 08 Jan 23 - 07:33 PM
Felipa 08 Jan 23 - 07:38 PM
Felipa 08 Jan 23 - 08:05 PM
GeoffLawes 10 Jan 23 - 11:19 AM
Felipa 10 Jan 23 - 02:02 PM
Tim K 18 Jan 23 - 11:53 PM
GeoffLawes 19 Jan 23 - 04:54 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 07:49 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 08:05 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 08:09 AM
Brian Peters 19 Jan 23 - 08:13 AM
Felipa 19 Jan 23 - 08:50 AM
GUEST 26 Jan 23 - 07:38 PM
GUEST 26 Jan 23 - 07:44 PM
GeoffLawes 27 Jan 23 - 07:25 PM
GeoffLawes 27 Jan 23 - 07:28 PM
Felipa 29 Jan 23 - 11:09 AM
GeoffLawes 29 Jan 23 - 05:22 PM
The Sandman 30 Jan 23 - 10:18 AM
The Sandman 30 Jan 23 - 10:28 AM
GeoffLawes 06 Feb 23 - 12:30 PM
PHJim 09 Feb 23 - 09:28 PM
RTim 09 Feb 23 - 10:27 PM
GeoffLawes 10 Feb 23 - 06:20 AM
Big Al Whittle 12 Feb 23 - 05:49 PM
GeoffLawes 13 Feb 23 - 07:17 PM
Felipa 15 Feb 23 - 05:21 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Feb 23 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,henryp 19 Feb 23 - 05:28 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Feb 23 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,henryp 19 Feb 23 - 10:24 AM
GerryM 19 Feb 23 - 11:21 PM
GUEST,henryp 20 Feb 23 - 10:19 PM
GUEST,henryp 20 Feb 23 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,Lang Johnnie More 21 Feb 23 - 05:11 PM
robomatic 21 Feb 23 - 05:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Feb 23 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,henryp 28 Feb 23 - 06:56 AM
Dave the Gnome 28 Feb 23 - 07:15 AM
Felipa 05 Mar 23 - 08:05 PM
GUEST,henryp 20 Mar 23 - 12:10 AM
GUEST,RJM 20 Mar 23 - 03:39 AM
GUEST,henryp 20 Mar 23 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,henryp 20 Mar 23 - 08:02 AM
GUEST 20 Mar 23 - 08:24 AM
GUEST 20 Mar 23 - 12:24 PM
GeoffLawes 21 Mar 23 - 05:15 PM
keberoxu 24 Mar 23 - 03:48 PM
GeoffLawes 26 Jul 23 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,henryp 27 Jul 23 - 12:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 27 Jul 23 - 04:33 AM
GUEST,Doodles 27 Jul 23 - 03:48 PM
Felipa 10 Dec 23 - 10:14 AM
PHJim 13 Dec 23 - 06:30 AM
Georgiansilver 13 Dec 23 - 07:54 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Dec 23 - 12:10 PM
Thompson 14 Dec 23 - 04:31 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Dec 23 - 10:03 AM
Thompson 14 Dec 23 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,guest 15 Dec 23 - 09:55 PM
Felipa 05 Jun 24 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,James Phillips 07 Jun 24 - 07:17 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 07:59 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 08:02 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 08:04 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 24 - 08:11 PM
Joe_F 10 Jun 24 - 10:34 PM
Felipa 12 Jun 24 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Jun 24 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,RA 15 Jun 24 - 05:31 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: DEAD MAN WALKING BLUES (Roger Gall)^^
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 08:02 AM

There has been some discussion in various threads lately about capital punishment, rather than respond in those, I thought I would start a new thread for songs on this emotive subject. Not very seasonal but with the current situation in Iraq, I for one do not feel very seasonal.

It begs the question, would it be right to kill an individual like Saddam and others, if you knew that by doing so you could prevent the pain and suffering that people like that cause?

This song is strange, the first time I heard the title of the book/film, Dead Man Walking and before I knew what it was about, I knew I would write a song with that title. About six months later and some time after I had seen the film (which is a great film) I wrote the song. It's a blues, on the lines of 'Hootchie Cootchie Man'

DEAD MAN WALKING BLUES

My lips are dry, I can't talk
I've got to steel myself for one last walk
I can't run with these chains, you see
There's no hurry, they won't start without me
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

You may say, all my life I've been no good
I would have done better, if only I could
But up to now no one noticed me
Now I see myself on the TV
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

My performance may make the news
But I won't be around, to read the reviews
Ain't up to me who they invite
Who will watch my first and last night?
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

The good book may say it but it don't mean it's the truth
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
I did wrong on that fateful night
But two wrongs, they won't make it right
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

My deed was in the heat of that hour
But it don't excuse the abuse of my power
But the cleaner you try to make my death seem
Just seems to make it more obscene!
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

Roger Gall 1998


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Dani
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 08:25 AM

I would love to hear you do that song. I suffer from not being able to translate lyrics into songs. But your words are powerful.

They're not in the DT, but check out two songs of Pete's: Walking Down Death Row

and

Sacco's Letter to his Son.

Let me know if you don't find them surfing. I'll post them next week.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:28 AM

I remember that Ewan MacColl wrote a very powerful song, "Go Down You Murderers," (was the chorous if not the title) on an early Topic lp. I have the record in storage. It was, as I recall, about the execution of Tim Evans... seems it was later proved that he was not the killer.

Then there is always Kipling's "Danny Deever," brilliantly record by Peter Bellamy on Barrack Room Ballads.

In addition to this serious subject, the finality of capital punishment, there is here now an unrelated but very serious issue - Capitol Punishment. Should God (or public opion and history) punish adulturers or should fellow sinners do the job?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:47 AM

I always thought that Capitol punishment was listening to early Kingston Trio Records?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 12:34 PM

Well done, Sir Shambles, but I'm sure many of our fellow Mudcats would not agree with you.

(God! did I really make that many typos?)

All the best.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 01:49 PM

Sorry Dan, it was just an excuse for a cheap joke, I couldn't think of anyone else who recorded on the Capitol label. I liked them too.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: rich r
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 06:38 PM

Tom Paxton's "Bring Back The Chair"

rich r


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE GREEN GREEN GRASS OF HOME (Putman
From: BSeed
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:41 PM

One of my favorite songs to sing is the very unjudgemental country song (by Curly Putman, I believe), recorded by Johnny Cash and others, "THE GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME," which, surprisingly, seems not to be in the DT.


GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME
Written by Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.
As recorded by Curly Putman on “Write ‘Em Sad—Sing ‘Em Lonesome,” 2010.

1. The old hometown looks the same
As I step down from the train,
And there to meet me is my mama and my papa,
And down the road I look and there runs Mary,
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.

CHORUS: Yes, they've all come to meet me,
Arms reachin', smilin' sweetly.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.

2. The old house, it’s still standing,
Though the paint is cracked and dry,
And there's that old oak tree that I used to play on;
And down the lane, I walk with my sweet Mary,
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.

3. [SPOKEN:] Then I wake and look around me
At the four gray walls that surround me,
And I realize I was only dreamin',
[SUNG:] For there's a guard and there’s that sad old padre.
Arm in arm we'll walk at daybreak,
When again I'll touch the green, green grass of home.

CHORUS: Yes, they've all come to see me,
In the shade of that old oak tree,
As they lay me beneath the green, green grass of home.

[First recorded by Johnny Darrell, 1965; also by Porter Wagoner (#4 on country chart), 1965; Bobby Bare, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Jones (#11 on US Hot 100, #1 in UK, Ireland, & Australia), 1966; also Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Patti Page, Dean Martin, Floyd Cramer, Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, Charley Pride, Roger Whittaker, and others.]

--seed


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: rich r
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:45 PM

Strange form of capital punishment

rich r


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 11:29 PM

Speaking of the Kingston Trio, remember the capital verse in "Tom Dooley" (dula):

This time tomorrow,
Reckon where I'll be,
Down in some lonesome valley,
Hangin' from a white oak tree.

Then there's "MacPherson's Rant," sometimes called "MacPherson's Lament." Another execution song is sometimes called "Been All Around this World."

Hang me, oh, hang me,
And I'll be dead and gone.
Hang me, oh, hang me,
And I'll be dead and gone.
I don't mind your hangin',
It's layin' in the ground so long.
Been all around this world.

Max Hunter, Springfield, Missouri, recorded that one for me back in the early 60s. Now available as a "custom cassette."

And, finally, does anyone remember the song "Come, Oh My Love," which I think was collected on Beech Mountain in North Carolina, about thirty years before I got there? Last verse, sung by the man about to hang:

Come, oh my love, and see me die.
Come, oh my love, and see me die.
Lift your innocent face,
See me dance in the sky.

Can't remember where I saw that one.

Sandy (folk fogey)


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 11:40 PM

Never was the Kingston Trio; 'Twas N. Carolinian, Frank Proffitt, who sang the song for Frank & Ann Warner. They gave it to the Lomax father & son duo who put it into print where the Kingstons found it, filed on it, and made a million bucks---no credit to anybody.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 11:53 PM

Sandy---Sorry! Think we just crossed postings in the mail here! I could've sworn I saw the entire "TOM DULA" posted here with no mention of Mr. Proffitt--only the K.T.

Now I can't find that posting anywhere. But folks, Sandy has wonderful recordings of Frank Proffitt on Folk Legacy! And didn't you record the one for Folkways too, Sandy? Seem to recall that you did. Of course, they're all packed away!

Art


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Subject: Lyr Add: SEND ME TO THE 'LECTRIC CHAIR^^
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 12:08 AM

SEND ME TO THE 'LECTRIC CHAIR
Written by George Brooks
As recorded by Bessie Smith, 1927.

VERSE: Judge, your honor, hear my plea
Before you open up your court;
But I don't want no sympathy
'Cause I done cut my good man's throat.
I caught him with a triflin' Jane.
I warned him just(?) before.
I had my knife and went insane,
And the rest you ought to know.

CHORUS 1: Judge, judge, please, mister judge,
Send me to the 'lectric chair.
Judge, judge, good mister judge,
Let me go away from here.
I want to take a journey to the devil down below.
I done killed my man; I want to reap just what I sow.
Oh, judge, judge, lordy, lordy, judge,
Send me to the 'lectric chair.

CHORUS 2: Judge, judge, hear me, judge:
Send me to the 'lectric chair.
Judge judge, send me there, judge.
I loved him so dear.
I cut him with my Barlow; I kicked him in the side.
I set there laughin' over him while he wallowed 'round and died.
Oh, judge, judge, lordy, judge,
Send me to the 'lectric chair

CHORUS 3: Judge, judge, please, mister judge,
Send me to the 'lectric chair.
Judge, judge, good kind judge,
Burn me 'cause I don't care.
I don't want no bondin' man(?) to go my bail.
I don't want to spend no ninety-ninety years in jail.
So judge, judge, good kind judge,
Send me to the 'lectric chair.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 12:19 AM

Right you are, Art. I did record the Folkways album of Frank Proffitt, and got Frank Warner to write the notes, since I was recording Proffitt in 1961, and Warner had recorded him in 1938(!), I thought Warner had prior rights to the glory. I'm told that Smithsonian-Folkways will burn a special issue CD for anyone willing to pay a premium for it. Does anyone know whether or not this is true? If it is, one could get Frank Proffitt on CD. My own two albums of his music on Folk-Legacy are only available as "custom cassettes," until we can afford to assemble a CD.

How's the move going, Art? Unpack the joke file first!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jon W.
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 12:43 AM

Probably it is Barlow not bottle, Art. Barlow is a type of knife (I believe I learned that factoid right here on the forum).

How about the traditional song Gallows Pole (Hangman, hangman, wait a little while/I think I see my father coming, riding many a mile...)


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 01:48 AM

Sandy--the Smithsonian/Folkways folk will make custom cassettes and/or CDs similar to your Folk Legacy custom cassettes. I got one of Dock Boggs last year. (Its's just this fall that they've released all the Dock Boggs on non-custom CDs.) And the cassette comes in a handsome little box and photocopies of the original material accompany it, but of course, all the photocopied materials won;t fit into the box, no matter how carefully you fold them.

And on the subject:
Write me a letter
Send it by e-mail
Send it in care of
www.birminghamjail.gov


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: BSeed
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 03:29 AM

rich r., strange form of capital punishment? where do you suppose the guard and the sad old padre are headed as they walk arm in arm with the speaker in the song at daybreak, a wedding? unless I'm misinterpreting your post. --seed


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 02:38 PM

"Sing Me Back Home" by -- Merle Haggard & The Strangers? I think I have heard a wealth of capital punishment songs on rural tavern jukeboxes over the years, but this is the only one that comes to mind at the moment.

Also the trad song "Geordie", sometimes sung as "Georgie". It's a Child ballad, IIRC. Gets hanged for stealing deer.

"Bold Lovell" -- see "Whiskey In The Jar" thread, where in this variant he thinks it "bloody hard to swing for liftin' a bit of money." I think there are others about highwaymen getting hanged. One about Dick Turpin, I think.

There should be a wealth of trad songs about people getting hanged -- even that little Irish ditty about the consequences of sticking knives in babies' heads -- but I assume that you mean anti-capital punishment songs.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 03:52 PM

Not anti-capital punishment songs but ones about the process of the state coldly setting about taking life.

It's when I see the hoops we go through to make execution clean and/or painless and the elevation from nowhere to the front pages, of sad people and their crimes and the pain of temporary reprieves, that I wonder if it is not a self-defeating process.

But again I can see some justification in removing people like Saddam, Stalin and Hitler.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: rich r
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 07:14 PM

Seed,

Sometimes I don't speak meself so clearly as I think. I guess my problem with that song is that it is altogether too saccharine and nostalgic to be considered a legitimate attempt to grapple with seriousness of capital punishment. The guy in the song might as well be going in for some surgery that has a finite non-zero possibility of being fatal.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From:
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 07:41 PM

"East Texas Red" by Woody Guthrie---on my LP (Folk Leacy) __That's The Ticket"__(now on cassette only) -- as well as by Arlo Guthrie on a recording--is about hobos who, harrassed by a sadistic brakeman by "kicking over their stew" at their hobo jungle camp, tell hi that they'll be back in a year to make him pay.

Is this a version of "Sir Gawain and The Green Knight??? Sure might be. (More o' my vascilating!)But that'd be amazing.

When they do come back and "Red comes down the line", with their warm clothes, now, and money in their pockets, he begs for mercy. But they kill him.

As John Steinbeck said, and I paraphrase, 'In these sub-stratas of folks who have fallen through the safety net and inhabit a world outside the mainstream, there are only a few options---ostracism or a quick, decisive fight that instantly settles the problem one way or the other. No good or evil here! Just what is--depending on your beliefs---once again!

Still, no offense intended, good people. Just am stating a point of view---a way to see this other than absolutely evil. There's always shades o' gray.

Art


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 07:57 PM

Art,
I remember a verse like this...


.judge, judge, good, kind judge
send me to the lectric chair,
judge, judge Mr. Siricca please
burn me cause I don't care
I have to take a journey to the devil down below ,
I sliced up my sweet patootie
lawd I hate to see her go..... harp


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: BSeed
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:04 PM

rich--true, the condemned man doesn't dwell on the mechanics of his coming death or on his possible afterlife, or on any remorse he might have for his crime--but the song's structure, message, and imagery are a bit more complex, I think, than you give it credit for: we first see the condemned man as human, connected to his family and his girlfriend, dreaming about returning to the innocent pleasures of his youth (the oak tree, the walk with Mary), yet aware of the changes time brings--the paint on the old house is now cracked and worn, and the greeting is perhaps one he received on an earlier return home. On first hearing, the first two verses are simple nostalgia for family and home and sweetheart. But when the third verse comes, the condemned man awakes surrounded by the cold grey walls, thinking of the walk to the gallows and his return home, not to be greeted but mourned, the tree of his childhood now his burial site, the green, green grass no longer a symbol of home and youth, but a grave covering.

Anyway, that's the way I try to sing it (avoiding all memory of Tom Jones' overblown version). --seed


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Pete M
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:32 PM

Actually Seed, I liked Rich's comment, just got a twisted mind I suppose, but I got an instant vision of someone being put to death by being made to touch grass! Alternatively you could constue it as being buried alive I suppose, either way I have difficulty in taking the song seriously for the reasons Rich gives. Your interpretation may make all the difference of course, but I'm afraid I'll probably never get to hear it.

Eiher way, I suppose I've always felt that the song did nothing to bring out the horror of institutionalized murder, but again that may be down to interpretation, and my, and probably most peoples, have been conditioned by the extant recordings.

On Shambles original question, I don't think political assasination can be justified on moral grounds, and suspect it would be far less effective than may be thought. There are very few cases where the removal of an individual would make that much change to a complex situation. To digress into jargon: the stability of a given system is directly related to both its internal complexity and richness of its links to its environment, not as most people imagine, inversely related.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Greg F.
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:39 PM

Then there's Phil Ochs' "The Iron Lady"-

Regards-


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:46 PM

Art,

I think you are recalling David Bromberg's version of "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair." Not that that is bad, just giving you the information. Of course, circa 1974.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: Lyr Add: SEND ME TO THE 'LECTRIC CHAIR
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 09:41 PM

No Roger, David's is different:

So Judge, your honor, hear my plea before you open up your court.
I don't crave no sympathy, for what I have to report.
I caught her with a gamblin' Joe I had warned her about once before.
I pulled my knife and I went insane. The rest you already know.

He said, "Judge, judge, good kind judge, send me to the 'lectric chair."
He said, "Judge, judge, hear me, judge: I wanta get outa here.
I want to take a journey to the devil down below.
I sliced up my sweet patootie. I gotta reap just what I sow.
So judge, judge, hear me, judge, and send me to the 'lectric chair."

He said, "Judge, ah, listen to me, judge: please now send me to the 'lectric chair."
He said, "Judge, your honor, mister, sir, I love that girl so dear.
I don't want no bondsman to go my bail
And I don't wanta spend no 99 years stuck in your stinkin' jail.
Judge, ah, judge, hear me, judge: send me to the 'lectric chair.

He said, "Judge, ah, judge, Mr. Sirica, please, send me to the 'lectric chair.
Ah, judge, now judge, meister judge, burn me cause I don't care.
First I cut her with my Barlow, then I kicked her in the side,
Then I stood there laughin' o'er her while she buckled up and died."
I said, "Judge, judge, hear me, judge, and send me to the 'lectric chair."

The breaks aren't quite right but those are his words...harp


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Barry Finn
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 09:46 PM

As Dan mentions above "Danny Deever" is one of the great capital punishment songs along side of "The Night That Poor Larry Was Stretched". A few more well known 'Goodnight Songs' are Captain Kidd & Jack Hall. Not a death penatly song but surely one of the more haunting of all the hanging songs, from Billy Holiday ( & from those that brought us lynching) "Strange Fruit".

I believe I recently saw mention in a thread that this is the only instance where the criminal recieves the same treatment for which they had been convicted of. This form of an eye for an eye justice is supposed to be above us. We don't steal from the thief of force drugs into/onto the dealer (maybe Bill Clinton would perfer this form of reform).

Here's a true story about one of our fellow Mudcatter's, John Nolan. John used to be a cop in Glasgow before coming to the US (see his posting in the thread 'Hamish Imlach' Oct 3, 98 for a little backround) maybe 20 yrs ago when I first met him. He's been thorn to some & a relief to others by his use of the pen for the papers he writes for in southeastern New Hampshire. His writing brought him to sitting in on a criminal case where a death row inmate was trying to get his case reheard. I'm not sure on the little details, dates & how John got involved but he thought something wasn't right in the way the process had or was presently working. What was, is that an innocent man sat on death row & without John's investigating & getting to expose the way the case was originally handled, the man's fate would still remain sealed. The man was released & John is the hero. Now the crime here is that an innocent was forced to lay on death row until a stroke of luck brought about a miracle. Death row is mostly made up of the poor, the undereducated & the Blacks, those that have never seen a miracle or couldn't afford one (ask O.J. if it doesn't cost much to get away with murder). Anyway, it seems as if this death penalty system is to faulty & flawed & does not dish out justice on an equal basis, is definitly blinded to the poorer & is not a determent. If one innocent life is taken, there is no recourse. Does the victim sue the judge, the jury, the DA, the police & the court appointed attorney to regain their life? In these cases there's no room for error & if it exists then there should be no room for this form of reform. Don't hang me for going on so long, sorry. Barry


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Barry Finn
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 11:42 PM

I should've added to the above a version of the "Newry Highwayman" called "Allen Tyne Of Harrow" (not in the DT) & the hanging of the Earl of Derwentwater for treason during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 called Derwentwater's Farewell" (in the DT). One more for the lighter side, "Hanging Johnny". Barry


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Subject: Lyr Add: JAMES CONNOLLY ^^^
From: O'Boyle
Date: 21 Dec 98 - 02:18 AM

I've always enjoyed the song "James Connolly" and was going to link to it in the database when I found that the "James Connolly" in the database was the OTHER "James Connolly". So I had to type this thing out. I hope you find it as powerful a song as I do.

JAMES CONNOLLY

A great crowd had gathered outside of Kilmainham
Their heads all uncovered as they knelt to the ground,
For inside that grim prison lay a true Irish soldier,
His life for his country about to lay down.

He went to his death like a true son of Ireland,
The firing party, he bravely did face.
Then the order rang out: "Present arms! Fire!"
James Connolly fell into a ready-made grave.

The black flag was hoisted; the cruel deed was over.
Gone was the man who loved Ireland so well,
There was many a sad heart in Dublin that morning
When they murdered James Connolly, the Irish rebel.

God's curse on you, England. you cruel-hearted monster.
Your deeds they would shame all the devils in hell.
There are no flowers blooming, but the shamrock is growing
On the grave of James Connolly, the Irish rebel.

Many years have gone by since the Irish rebellion
When the guns of Britannia, they loudly did speak,
And the bold IRA stood shoulder to shoulder
And the blood from their bodies flowed down Sackville Street.

The Four Courts of Dublin the English bombarded,
The spirit of freedom they tried hard to quell,
But above all the din, came the cry: "No surrender!"
'Twas the voice of James Connolly, the Irish rebel.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: carverconroy@beaufort.com
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 12:28 PM

I've always like Tim Evans that was sung by Judy Collins back in the early 60's. Tim Evans was the last person executed in Great Britain (he also happened to be innocent-a now undisputed fact but a little late for him). cc


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Bert
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 01:18 PM

There's Anne Boleyn.
With her 'ead tucked underneath her arm.

Didn't Jimmie Rodgers do one about
I will go the gallows at sunrise?

Then there's Robert Emmet & Roddy McCorley

Bert


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: DonMeixner
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 03:24 PM

I too would recomend The Iron Lady by Phil Ochs, Sam Hall

andm/or Tallow Candles. Hang on The Bell Nellie and Long Black Veil are favorites.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Den
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 05:22 PM

There's no lights on the Christmas Tree Momma They're burning big Louie tonight.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Bob Schwarer
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 06:14 PM

How about "Burke & Hare", a couple who get hung for their quaint way of supporting themselves.

Bob S.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Susan A-R
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 09:41 PM

There are a bunch of songs about both Joe Hill and Sacco and Vanzetti (my spelling is supect here, I know) I particularly remember "Two Good Arms" believe it's on a Holly Near/Ronnie Gilbert album called Lifelines. Also Is it Andy Irvine who does Vanzetti's Farewell? There's also an entire compendium of Joe Hill songs out. Its interesting in these instances because the judges in question (and the "State") decided that although it wasn't clear that the fellows had committed the crimes in question, the politics of the criminals were out of line enough with society to warrant their deaths. Then there's Annathea (not trad, although it sounds it) Also, did Leadbelly do any of these? It seems that he must have. Also, there's the one verse in "We Who Believe in Freedom" "Until the Killing of a black man, black mother's son Is as important as the killing of a white man, white mother's son, we who believe in freedom shall not rest. . ." Not sure if it partains to the death penalty (the statistiics here are interesting) or not. Ah well, running out of steam.

Susan


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 04:05 PM

There's the Irish song about "Shoot me like a soldier,/ Do not hang me like a dog,/ For I fought for Ireland's [memory fading out here]..."

Also the one to "Greensleeves" about Tyburn Tree--surely the musical and poetic high point of The Beggar's Opera.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 04:38 PM

...neither one of which is in the DT. Here's the one from The Beggar's Opera (1765), by John Gay. I may have thought the poetry was good because I liked the music. This is sung by MacHeath when he's about to be hanged on the gallows at Tyburn.

Air LXVII.--Green Sleeves.

Since Laws were made for ev'ry Degree,
To curb Vice in others, as well as me,
I wonder we han't better Company,
Upon Tyburn Tree!
But Gold from Law can take out the Sting;
And if rich Men like us were to swing,
'Twould thin the Land, such Numbers to string
Upon Tyburn Tree!


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 05:46 PM

Barbara Dane used to do an old blues number where the narrator is a woman whose man is about to hang. I'll see if it's on the one piece of vinyl I still own by her.

Mary Ann


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Bruce O.
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 06:08 PM

For some old ones see my broadside ballad index, Babington & Ballard, Luke Hutton, Earl of Essex, Walter Raleigh, William Grismond (William Guisman in traditional versions). Stafford, Russell, Johnson, Golden Farmer. The bloody Miller. King Charles-I, and numerous other ones (search on 'execute' and 'murder/murther' and 'traitor/traytor') www.erols.com/olsonw


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From:
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 06:20 PM

Add Gilderoy, MacPherson's Farewell, John Felton, The Cutpurse, Ann Askew, Arabella Stuart, John Careless. There's one "Behold our Saviour Crucified" in Rollins' 'Old English Ballads', and another on Anne Saunders. There's also the three part one on George Sanders,and others involved in a murder. Bannister. Faux, Catesby, and Garnet involeved in the Gunpowder Plot.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: skw@worldmusic.de
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 05:01 AM

What about Bonnie Susie Clelland (Child #65), burned at the stake for being in love with an Englishman? And Eric Bogle wrote a moving song about South Africa, Singing the Spirit Home, from the album of the same title.
Incidentally, Tim Evans was not the last man by a long way to be hanged in Britain. He was hanged in 1950. However, MacColl's song is credited with helping towards clearing Evans' name - which was finally done in 1966.
One of the last to be hanged must have been James Hanratty, the alleged A6 murderer, in 1962. I've just read he is about to be pardoned - strange word! - 37 years after. Another irreparable miscarriage of justice. Derek Bentley is another that comes to mind.
C. P. must have been abolished about 1964, for I remember Hamish Imlach introducing 'Tim Evans' in 1989 with the words 'It was twenty-five years last month since they last hanged someone in Britain. Mrs. Thatcher wanted to celebrate by hanging several people again.'
Hamish DID have a strange sense of humour. He used to introduce 'MacPherson's Lament' by saying that there was a time when simply being a gypsy was a capital crime in Scotland. Unfortunately, this was nothing but the truth!
Who's to decide? I don't believe in C.P., especially if, as in the US, people wait for years and change greatly in the process, and if, as Barry Finn points out, the law favours better-off and better-educated people and leaves the burden to be borne by the poor and uneducated. On the other hand, reading about what sexual offenders and paedophiles do to their victims and learning that a great number of these people are considered mentally ill but untreatable - what are we to do with them? Wait till they strike again? Lock them up for life? Also, what do you do to stop the Milosevic's of this world? I don't know. - Susanne


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Subject: Lyr Add: Clûn Malla^^^
From: AlistairUK
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 07:11 AM

There's the beautiful Irish ballad "Clûn Malla" (sic) which goes:

CLÛN MALLA

How hard is my fortune
How vain my repining
The strong rope of fate
For my young neck is twining
My strength has departed
My cheeks sunk and sallow
As I languish in chains
In the gaol of Clûn Malla

No boy in the village
Was ever yet milder
I could play with a child
And my sport be no wilder
I could dance without tiring
From morning til evening
And my goal ball I'd strike
To the lightning of heaven

At my bedfoot decaying
My hurley is lying
Through the lads of the village
My goal ball is flying
My horse 'mongst the neighbours
Neglected may fallow
While this heart young and gay
Lies cold in Clûn Malla

Next sunday the pattern
At home will be keeping
The lads of the village
The fields will be sweeping
And the dance of fair maidens
The evening will hallow
While this heart
Young and gay
lies cold in Clûn Malla

Repeat First Verse.

I love singing this song, I think I got it from a Dubliners Album many years ago, the name of the album I can't remember.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: AlistairUK
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 07:12 AM

It doesn't seem to be in the DT can someone add it.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 01:34 PM

Has no one mentioned "Captain Kidd" or "Maid Freed from the Gallows," or "Mary Hamilton" (The Four Marys)or "The Cruel Mother?" I may have overlooked them in the thread. If so, sorrry!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Gene
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 08:44 PM

Marty Robbins recorded 'THE CHAIR'


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Susan A-R
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 11:02 PM

I also remember Margaret McArthur doing one about a man who kills his sweetheart, and is caught.

Something lke this (dredged out of 15 year storage in an increasingly leaky memory)

Come all you wicked young men and hear what I do tell
My name is William Smael and in London I did dwell
I've lately done some murder there, and that is known full well
For my offense I must die

The last line of the verse repeats, and some of the images are pretty chilling. Anyone else have it so I can fill in the gaps in my poror memory?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: reggie miles
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 11:24 PM

Don't know if this was mentioned previously but there's a book that I have collecting dust here called "American Murder Ballads And Their Stories". This edition is from 1958 by Olive Woolley Burt, Oxford University Press. It seems to touch on some of this. Reggie


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Subject: Lyr Add: I'm On My Way^^
From: Mark Clark
Date: 13 Apr 99 - 11:54 PM

Logan English recorded a song with a chorus that went:

Hang me oh hang me I'll be dead and gone,
Hang me oh hang me I'll be dead and gone,
I wouldn't mind the hangin' but to lay in the grave so long,
Lay in the grave so long.

An old friend, Dwight Saunders, once taught me a song he learned in an Alabama jail called "I'm On My Way." The verses are:

I'm on my way, and I won't be long (three times)
Great God a'mighty, I'm on my way.

I killed a man, beat in his head (three times)
Great God a'mighty, I'm glad he's dead.

Sheriff Colson come, throw'd me in jail (thrice)
Great God a'mighty, I ain't got no bail.

This Durant jail, no jail at all, (thrice)
Great God a'mighty, been here since fall.

That ofay judge, gonna see me fry, (thrice)
Great God a'mighty, I don't wanta die.

But I'm on my way... (repeat first verse)

I've never run across it anywhere else and thought some of you might be interested.

- Mark


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: northfolk/al cholger
Date: 14 Apr 99 - 12:08 AM

I appreciate all of the history of Capital Punishment songs...to put it into perspective, the ILWU, International Longshore Workers Union has pledged to shut down all shipping on the West Coast, to bring awareness to the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, on April 24...demanding a new/fair trial....the good part of the music we all love is that it doesn't happen in a vacuum, but is rooted in the issues of the times.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Nancy Blevins
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 12:28 AM

The song Long Black Veil by the org. Jimmie Rodgers. It's from the 30's I think.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Sorcha
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 12:37 AM

Nancy Blevins, Where ARE you>? Are you in Wyo?


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Subject: Lyr Add: Strange Fruit^^^
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 01:23 AM

Boiy, I'm glad somebody resurrected this thread.
My daughter introduced me to Billie Holiday's powerful song, "Strange Fruit":

Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter cry.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Callie
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 01:51 AM

What about "The Night Before Larry Got Stretched" and Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets"? Callie


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Metchosin
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 04:07 AM

MacPherson's Lament


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: AKS
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 04:23 AM

Sam Hall, chimney sweep, if I'm not mistaking, wasn't mentioned yet, and belongs to this sad category (is in the DT).

AKS


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 06:25 AM

"Send me to the 'Lectric Chair", learned mainly from performances by British blues singer George Melly,who based his on the Bessie Smith version with the sexes reversed, is one I sometimes inflict on my loved ones but I had always assumed the knife was a "Bowie", interesting that it could be a "Barlow".
There's also "Frankie and Johnny" of course: "The last time I saw Frankie she was sittin' in the 'lectric chair,
Waitin' to meet her maker with the sweat drippin' out of her hair
RtS


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE EASTER TREE (Dave Goulder)^^^
From: GeorgeH
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 06:42 AM

Shambles, why ever do you see the situation in Iraq as so much worse than that in the US? The US carries out more judicial murders than most states on this earth. The US president has EVEN more innocent blood on his hands than does Saddam Hussein; far, far more.

But in response to the original request, here's Dave Goulder's "The Easter Tree" (stolen from an earlier Mudcat thread; I really must learn to do those blue clicky things). Imortalised by June Tabor on her "Ashes and Diamonds" LP, now available on CD.

Rain falls upon the Easter tree
The squirrel shakes his head and shivers in his red and sodden fur
The wind and water flatten out his ears and cause his streaming eyes to close
The smell of death lies heavy in his nose

The sun dries out the Easter tree
The rabbit looks around, sees a shadow on the ground and runs for home
The songbird finds a strange and novel perch to shout his challenge to the day
The hair beneath his feet is turning grey

A man hangs from the Easter tree
His deathbed is a rope; four strong nails have killed his hopes of climbing down
His jaws are locked in agony, are open for the flies to come and go
His eyes are in the belly of the crow

A dog sits by the Easter tree
Beneath the naked heels his master or his meal will surely fall
When the rope is broken by the wind or the rusty nails release their withered load
The dog, well fed, continues down the road

Bones lie beneath the Easter tree
The skulls now full of sand could never understand the reason why
The thread of life was broken by a hand that never cared to know their names
They played and lost in someone else's game

The leaves upon the Easter tree
Are red with human blood since justice chose the wood to make a sword
When a man was hanged at Tyburn tree or crucified along the road to Rome
His blood and tears have stained the face of stone

As a second offering I'd nominate "Bently and Craig", written by Ralph McTell and featured on June's Aleyn CD. . only I don't have a copy of the words to that at present. That, by the way, DOES commemorate the last execution in the UK. And the victim received his official pardon last year.

These days, with our "ethical foreign policy", we simply export the victims back to Afghanistan for them to do the dirty work.

G.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 08:48 AM

George. If you look at the date of the original post, you will understand that the reference to events in Iraq was a (then)topical one (we were bombing them). It was not connected to capital punishment or comparing their legal systems to the US.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 09:19 AM

No one has yet mentioned "Were You There?", or "Pange Lingua" or "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded."

T.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Peg
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 10:47 AM

there is a song called "Young Waters" in which a handsome young man is put to death by a Scottish king after the queen declares him the handsomest man in the kingdom...I think June Tabor does it on Airs (is that her? I have the album but I cannot remember the singer's name for some reason...) anyway it is great song.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 11:21 AM

THE STREETS OF DERRY and, of course, all versions of The Hangman, Stay Your Rope, The Briery Bush, etc.

--Charlie Baum


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Willie-O
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 11:27 AM

Strangest thing is that in the vast majority of these songs, the writer has identified with the condemned person no matter how heinous the crime(s). Now I am firmly opposed to capital punishment on the grounds already cited, that it's carried out unevenly according to class and race considerations, and that it's irreversible despite the obvious fallibility of judicial process. (And that I figure organized killing, of someone who is already restrained from doing further harm, is just plain wrong.)

Also the argument that the public shouldn't pay the expense of keeping some killer in jail for life doesn't stand up either; it's more expensive to execute someone, since the appeal process is necessary, inevitable and extremely expensive (I've heard an average of $5 million/case in the US.).

A couple of years ago, though, I heard a "New Country" song on the radio in the MidWest (I'm not sure whether it was an American or Canadian station) which was explicitly pro-execution. The chorus went in part:

"The Bible says, an eye for an eye... ...Billy Walker has to die."

Now that was weird.

Then again, anyone up for writing a plea for Timothy McVeigh's life? Maybe he'll have a change of heart and become a better person...anyone who campaigns to save him is going to be regarded with deep suspicion from both sides of the great political divide.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 12:37 PM

I believe that at least one person who was bereaved by the destruction of the Murrah Building is working against putting McVeigh to death. I don't have the citation on me, though. I vaguely remember seeing it in the Oklahoma Gazzette.

The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will eventually be part of any effort to spare McVeigh's life, if they aren't already.

T.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 16 Feb 00 - 06:34 AM

It's been a long time ( mid 1960s I guess)since I saw a production of Brendan Behan's "The Quare Fella" which deals movingly with a prisoner in the condemned cell. I seem to remember it had songs, whether by Dominc Behan or traditional I can't now recall [surprise!]. Irish 'Catters may know if particular songs were included in the play or just varied according to local director.
RtS


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Feb 00 - 09:58 AM

Willy-O.

Some time has passed since I wrote the song and some things have (duh) dawned on me slowly.

I greatly admired the movie 'Dead Man Walking'. I considered it to be a fair treatment of the issue, for it did not 'ram home' a message but pretty much let you make up your own mind, if it wasn't already made up.

I honestly thought that my song did that too. Of course what I had overlooked is that my mind must have been pretty made up too and that also the song was written it from the point of view of the one to be executed. He was quite understandably, against the idea of being executed. I was genuinely a bit shocked when someone described it as an 'anti capital punishment song', as that was really not my intention but of course, that is exactly what it is.

I am beginning to come to the conclusion that, I did not (consciously) have much to do with the creation of this song at all?…….. Cue 'Twilight Zone' type music….Doo Doo Doo Doo…..


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Mar 00 - 11:41 AM

Extract from the Daily Mail 17th March 2000.

A serial killer who sexually abused 100 boys, before strangling them and dissolving their cut-up bodies in acid has been sentenced to die in the same way. A judge in Pakistan yesterday told Javed Iqbal that he will be publicly strangled, cut into 100 pieces and dumped in a vat of acid.

Prosecutor Burhan Moaazam said the sentence on Iqbal was fitting as a warning to others. 'the accused was not a man, he was a beast', he said. 'What was announced by the learned judge was right for him'. However Pakistan's interior minister said such public executions were not permitted and would be challenged in the High Court. Moinudeen Halder said 'we are signatories to the Human Rights Commission. Such punishments are not allowed'.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,The Beanster
Date: 18 Mar 00 - 12:20 PM

I've gotta say, barbaric as it is, I like this idea. I know there will be many who are appalled at this opinion but the reason I say that is because the survivors of the victims (from what I've heard) are all for it. And if that's true, I think they should get their wish (although I can't imagine that this sentence would actually be carried out). If this kind of execution of the criminal can assuage any amount of pain, no matter how small, these families should be allowed to have their day, if that's what they want.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM

I wonder if "dead man walking" comes from The Ballad of Reading Jail by Oscar Wilde?

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock's dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God's sweet world again.


Though of course it might have been a term used in prison at the time. A bit too long to sing, but a powerful piece - more so because there is no pretence that the condemned man is innocent of killing.

"Shoot me like an Irish soldier, do not hang me like a dog" is of course Kevin Barry, which is in the DT. Songs about patriots getting executed are really a separate category from songs about the death penalty in ordinary circumstances. Lots of them already in the thread - we haven't had Grace, or God Save Ireland so far. Not that there's a clear line to be drawn - for example there are several good songs about Ned Kelly, whom some (not me) would see as primarily a criminal.

And another category is about legal lynchings. For example there are versions of the Gypsy Davey in which the gypsies are all hanged.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Pamela
Date: 30 Jul 03 - 06:03 PM

Thanks so much. This song has been running around in my head for a month now, but the only words I remembered were "the green green grass of home." Now I can sing the whole dang thing!


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: akenaton
Date: 30 Jul 03 - 06:41 PM

Ewan Macolls "Go down you murderers"is the most effective anti capital punishment song of all,as it shows the our culpability when an innocent person is killed.I remember the way people viewed crime in the 50s and 60s and im glad opinions have changed for the better.
However I feel it would not take much to turn the clock back.Thats why we should keep these songs alive...Ake


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: SINSULL
Date: 30 Jul 03 - 10:27 PM

Rose Connelly
The Croppy Boy


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Padre
Date: 30 Jul 03 - 11:21 PM

There's a [Billy Edd Wheeler?] song called "The Last Public Hanging in West Virginia." The event took place (according to the song) in 1897.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,cittern
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 03:53 AM

Steve Earle is well known for his anti-death penalty stance.   Can't name a specific song off the top of my head, but I am sure a web search can generate more than one.

Hope his helps.

Best regards
John Robinson
http://www.JulieEllison.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 02:58 PM

From memory, Matt McGinn had two which mentioned hanging;
The Man They Couldn't Hang and The Foreman O'Rourke ( about a guy that was hanged for killing his boss my pulling the toilet plug on him. )

The latter is definitely light hearted ! Anyone got the lyrics ?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Gareth
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 03:41 PM

Mmm! They man they could not hang ?? John 'Babbacombe' Lee ???

I am sure there is a ballad abot him. ??? Did 'Fairport Convention sing this ??

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Brother
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 07:20 PM

Might I recommend my brother Pete Bonds Song "Circuit Eleven" I always thought it a very powerful song about this subject.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: toadfrog
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 07:46 PM

Green are the Woods, on the DT as The Vance Song is as good a capital punishment song as Danny Deever, say. But note, songs from earlier than 1940 or so rarely make politica points about capital punishment generally.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: HuwG
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 01:14 AM

From Australia, Poor Ned, about Ned Kelly.

The Irish ditty mentioned by Tim Jacques, about sticking penknives into babies is Wella Wella.

Both in the DT.


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Subject: Lyr Add: RUTH ELLIS (Michael Raven)
From: Red and White Rabbit
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 09:24 AM

re the guy in Pakistans sentence to be executed publically - I have mixed feelings - I do have personal experience but I still dont believe in that - such punishment in my opinion glorifies the crime - a public spectacle - a bit like a side show at a fair. Now let victims have them in a room with no fear of punishment - that might be a different idea!

Has anyone mentioned RUTH ELLIS - Michael Raven

Ruth Ellis is my name; tomorrow I die
For shooting my true love I cannot deny
For he did betray me and brought me to shame
Still no sound is sweeter than the sound of his name

CHORUS: So bury me deep 'neath the old willow tree
And let the green grass grow, grow over me
And you must not weep love and you must not cry
Tomorrow they hang me; tomorrow I die

I came home one evening, came by the back way
And there was my true love; with another he lay
My poor heart was broken my pistol I drew
With tears overflowing my true love I slew. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 11:49 AM

Tha Hot Ashphalt.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG (Matt McGinn)
From: GUEST,Mary Ann
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 02:52 PM

THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG
As recorded by Matt McGinn on “Take Me Back to the Jungle”

CHORUS: There was an old hangman in Exeter, and a fine old hangman was he.
He had hanged a thousand or more But he couldn’t hang John Lee, John Lee!
No, he couldn’t hang John Lee.

1. Emma Keyse of Babbacombe was rich as rich can be.
She had servants in her home And one was Johnny Lee, John Lee!
And one was Johnny Lee.

2. Johnny Lee was a bad, bad man; so the story said,
So they threw him in the local can when they found old Emma dead, so dead!
They found old Emma dead.

3. The judge he listened unto the cons; then he heard the pros,
And it was clear that Johnny Lee had fewer friends than foes, than foes!
Fewer friends than foes. CHORUS

4. The Judge picked up his old black cap and he looked John in the eye.
Said: “It falls on me to sentence thee to be hanged until ye die, ye die!
Hanged until ye die.

5. James Berry was the hangman’s name and it filled his heart with glee
When they placed into his gentle hands the prisoner Johnny Lee, John Lee!
The prisoner Johnny Lee.

6. He led him to the scaffold high and then to John, says he:
“One last request I’ll grant to you.” “Close your trap!” says Johnny Lee, John Lee!
“Close your trap!” says Johnny Lee. CHORUS

7. James Berry pulled the lever down to send John Lee below.
Then he began to curse and frown when John Lee would not go, not go!
When John Lee would not go.

8. Again and then again he tried; again and again he failed.
Then word came down from London town John Lee for a life in jail, in jail!
John Lee for a life in jail. CHORUS

9. ’Twas back in 1885, they tried to hang John Lee.
In 1917, he sailed for far Amerikee, did he!
For far Amerikee.

10. There he went and died in bed, in 1933:
“Here lies the man they could not hang, and his name was Johnny Lee, John Lee!
And his name was Johnny Lee.” CHORUS

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Babbacombe_Lee]


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Subject: Lyr Add: FOREMAN O'ROURKE (Matt McGinn)
From: GUEST,Mary Ann
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 03:51 PM

THE FOREMAN O'ROURKE
As recorded by Matt McGinn on “The Return of the Two Heided Man” (Relrecords, 2001)

CHORUS: Hooch aye, hooch till a fa'.
Hooch aye, hooch till a dae.

Maybe I’m right; maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe I shouldnae go singing this song,
But the jury decided—you may as well—
That a fella like me should be roastin in hell. CHORUS

I had a gaffer; his name was O'Rourke.
He had a terrible passion for work.
In miles and in turns, he took all he could see,
Though he never was greedy; he gied it tae me. CHORUS

One day in ma work, I went roon for a smoke.
The door it burst open; there stood O'Rourke.
He startit tae swear and he gied me his curse.
He insulted ma mother, and that was far worse. CHORUS

He jumped for my throat and it gied me a fright.
I was quick on ma feet and I stepped tae ma right.
There was nothing could stop him, this terrible man,
Till he landed feet up, wi' his heid in the pan. CHORUS

I was tremblin wi fear as his heid gave a thud,
And I looked doon and saw that his claes were all mud.
Yet it wasnae his claes was the worst o' his plight,
For his heid was jammed in there; a sorrowful sight. CHORUS

In Barlinnie I wait for the man tae come roon
That will open the door and let me drap doon,
And I'll pray for O'Rourke as they gie me the tug,
For they hang me the morra, for pullin the plug. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Sara
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 03:55 PM

The Foreman O'Rourke won the Reynold's News Folk Song competition in the 60s, but the judges ( including Peggy Seeger ) weren't allowed to print the lyrics, even though they thought it was the best song!


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 04:12 PM

An old thread, still going strong, and I have seen no mention of "Oranges & Lemons", which seems to tell the tale of a fall from grace, starting off as a debtor "You owe me five farthings say the bells of St Martins" through "Old Bailey" to "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, and here comes a chopper to chop of your head"

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Gareth
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 04:33 PM

Thanks Mary Ann - Your memory is better than mine !

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 01 Aug 03 - 07:51 PM

Red & White Rabbit, the post about the Pakistan case is more than three years old, so presumably the guy's fate was long-since settled, one way or another. (If guest Pamela ever revisits this thread, I'm somewhat curious about why she revived it. I suspect she was intending to post to a different thread.)

Even three years on, it's worth pointing out that the last line of the verse quoted by McGrath from the Ballad of Reading Gaol should be: "For weal or woe again." Not McG's error: the link he provided (still live) goes to a version littered with one-word errors and more than one instance of entire phrases being wrong.

I've been known to recite this whole ballad from memory (it takes about 48 minutes) but much as I go along with the message, I reckon it's a fairly clumsy offering by Oscar's standards. I think it's the only time he allowed raw emotions to creep into anything he wrote for public consumption, and he doesn't seem comfortable in that mode. The poem was part of his response to being urged by a prison reformer (Haldane) to write about his experiences. The other part - two letters published in the Chronicle - was the better work.

If McG finds the ballad powerful (it certainly has moments of genius) he might like to look at relevant verses from Housman's "A Shropshire Lad" which for my money are much more effective. Despite clear parallels, I always refused to accept the logic that Housman's verses influenced Wilde's. I rested my case on the fact that Housman's collection was not published until 1895, meaning Wilde was unlikely to have seen it before embarking for France. Then I discovered that Houseman had sent Wilde a pre-publication copy while Wilde was still in prison.....

Incidentally someone took Wilde to task on the point that the Royal Horse Guards tunic was blue, not red. Wilde conceded that "azure" would have worked just as well as "scarlet" in the first line, but pointed out that it would have made a mess of the second line.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Aug 03 - 03:04 AM

Interesting that in this thread we have anti capital punishment songs and songs that largely treat the reality of it as fact - but we don't seem to have many songs written in favour of capital punishment......


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 02:24 AM

anyone mention Bruce Springsteen's "Dead man walkin?"


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 05:44 AM

http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/deadmanwalking/deadmanwalking.htm


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Gibson
Date: 19 Aug 04 - 03:46 PM

"I'm Not The Man" -- 10,000 Maniacs. Excellent.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 20 Aug 04 - 12:44 PM

Someone mentioned James Hanratty. Sad case - Hanratty almost certainly had severe learning difficulties. However, recent forensic investigation has canfirmed that he did it and one of his victims has for the last 40 years had severe walking difficulties, having been confined to a wheelchair. Perhaps Steve Earle should write her a song.

I've always been against the death penalty because of it's finality and the fact that you can't ever begin to rectify miscarriages of justice involving human life. However, as a parent I would have no problem seeing someone like Ian Huntley hang as long as I could be certain of his guilt.

I believe in a right to life - but is it not the case that adults are capable of forfeiting rights through their actions?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GUEST,lengeft
Date: 20 Feb 05 - 06:55 PM

I have been looking for the lyrics to "Come O My Love". This song haunts me from my childhood. Does anyone else remember...?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Peace
Date: 20 Feb 05 - 09:12 PM

Here ya go.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: goodbar
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 02:43 AM

dylan's 'i shall be released'. tom robinson band did a great cover of it too.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Clifton53
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 10:06 AM

Another by Marty Robbins, and also from the perspective of the hangee was called 'They're Hangin' Me Tonight'.

'Alone within my cell tonight, my heart is filled with fear,
   The only sound within the room is the falling of each tear,
   I think about the thing I've done, I know it wasn't right,
   They'll bury Flo tomorrow but they're hangin' me tonight,
    They're hangin' me tonight'.

Marty's voice was perfect for it.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: pavane
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 11:31 AM

Just for the sake of completeness..

No-one seems to have mentioned 'The (new) Deserter' in which the deserter is sentenced to be shot (and reprieved by the King/Prince Albert/General etc).


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Subject: Lyr Add: HOW DO THEY SLEEP TONIGHT (Al Whittle)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 01:19 PM

No, I don't believe in capital punishment - not even for someone like Ian Huntley (murderer of two small children). For one thing, I have never been tempted to kill children or wanted sex with children. I don't feel it's a feather in my cap that I resisted a temptation that I never felt.

My feeling is that we should be trying to work out why we are producing so many sociopaths and psychopaths. Why for example should a young apparently handsome, employable person like Ted Bundy end up as Jack the Ripper. I can't understand it at all.

How have we evolved a society where someone would choose to become a somebody by shooting John Lennon - rather than enjoy a relatively affluent life in one of the richest countries in the world. How have we got to this situation where our children perceive shooting up their high school as an alternative career opportunity - rejecting what society has to offer?

I don't buy the line that George Bush is the moral inferior of Saddam Hussein - not for a minute, but I do feel this. Americans have no idea just how much our young people look up to their society as a moral example. This is because your culture is everywhere on the globe. When America has recourse to capital punishment, they are letting the side down. They are doing a bad thing, and it makes it more difficult to say to OUR young children, nothing is achieved by violence.

Here is my effort on the subject when I was in a duo called Sacre Bleu. The band didn't last much longer than the CD. If anybody wants one I'll be happy to mail them one if they pm me.

HOW DO THEY SLEEP TONIGHT?

How are they sleeping tonight along that old death row?
Are they waiting on each dawn light as their precious minutes go?
Does each heart twist in a knot of fear?
For the darkness is coming down - coming down slow.
How do they sleep tonight along death row?

How can your heart conceive of a judge saying: “You must die”?
All those salaried suits with their law degrees listing the reasons why.
Your heart must stop, like a broken clock. You must bid the light goodbye.
How do they sleep tonight along death row?

Tell me now, tell me how, tell me now, sweet Jesus:
How could you let this be?
Are your minds so closed and your hearts so cruel
In the home of the brave and the free?

How do you feel on a day when they're taking the next man down?
Times he spoke with you and you were glad of a voice's sound.
Will you cry, will you scream, will you struggle, will you fight?
Or does it always pay to be polite?
How do they sleep tonight along death row?

Tell me now, tell me how, tell me now, sweet Jesus:
How could you let this be?
Are your minds so closed and your hearts so cruel
In the home of the brave and the free?

The crown of thorns, and the nails and the tree,
And it's all paid for by you and me.

Tell me now, tell me how, tell me now, sweet Jesus:
How could you let this be?
Are your minds so closed and your hearts so cruel
In the home of the brave and the free?


© 1999 Alan Whittle and David Forbes


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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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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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Lyr Add: DEREK BENTLEY (Ewan MacColl)
From: Rog Peek
Date: 29 Dec 07 - 02:25 PM

DEREK BENTLEY
As recorded by Ewan MacColl on “Chorus from the Gallows,” 1960.

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 hempen 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. CHORUS


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 Christopher 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: 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: 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: Lyr Add: GO DOWN YE MURDERERS (Ewan MacColl)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 03:11 PM

GO DOWN YE MURDERERS
(Ewan MacColl)
As recorded by Ewan MacColl on “Chorus from the Gallows,” 1960.

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 to see him and the chaplain by his side,
Said, "Your appeal has been turned down; prepare yourself to die."
    Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

So 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."

They fixed the rope 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.
Tim Evans did not hear ’em; he was deaf for ever more.
    Sayin', "Go down, you murderer, go down."

It was Christie was the murderer and ev’rybody knew.
They sent Tim Evans to the drop for a crime he did not do.
    Sayin', "Go down, you murderers, go down."


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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Lyr Add: THE LAST PUBLIC HANGING IN WEST VIRGINIA
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
As recorded by Flatt and Scruggs on “Town and Country,” 1965.

[SUNG:] “Rock of ages, cleft for me”

[SPOKEN:] Now, that could be the voice of John F. Morgan
In the Ripley jailhouse singin' hymns.
Well, ol' Johnny might just be singin' hymns this mornin',
‘Cause this is gonna be a hangin' day for him.

[SUNG:] Now, people say that Johnny was a bad man,
And that he had a name for bein' mean.
He took a hatchet one cold dreary mornin'.
He killed two childern and the widow Green.

Five thousand people gathered there in Ripley,
Invited by the sheriff, J. O. Shinn,
Havin' fun and drinkin' moonshine liquor
And listenin' to ol' Johnny singin' hymns.

The day dawned cold in Ripley, West Virginia.
The scaffold stood in silence in a field.
Johnny kep' on singin' in the jailhouse,
Waiting there to eat his final meal.

Then rumors started flyin' through the gath'ring
That John F. Morgan might get his reprieve.
The people started yellin' for the sheriff,
Afraid they'd miss what all they'd come to see.

But J. O. Shinn, 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 tipped his hat and bowed.

They listened to the preacher say the last word.
They fixed the noose and tied John Morgan's hand.
The signal came and someone sprang the death 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 sixteenth of December in eighteen ninety-seven,
Johnny Morgan paid the price for doin' wrong.


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: Lyr Add: HANG THEM ALL (Tom T. Hall)
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: 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: 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/Chords Add: SING ME BACK HOME (Merle Haggard)
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: Lyr Add: SLIP KNOT / HANGKNOT SLIPKNOT (W Guthrie)
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: 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: Lyr Add: OVER YONDER (JONATHAN'S SONG) (S Earle)
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)
As recorded by Steve Earle on "Transcendental Blues," 2000.

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.

CHORUS: 'Cause 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
Just send my Bible home to Mama
Call her every now and then. CHORUS

I suppose I got it comin'
I can't ever pay enough
In 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. CHORUS


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: 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 - 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 - 08:13 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. 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: Lyr Add: SPANISH JOHNNY
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.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 23 - 10:28 AM

stagolee.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 06 Feb 23 - 12:30 PM

Let Him Dangle – Elvis Costello     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2hA_Xjr33E


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: PHJim
Date: 09 Feb 23 - 09:28 PM

Joe Offer,

I first heard "Strange Fruit" sung by Josh White, and though the most famous version is by Billie Holiday, the song was written by Abel Meeropol under the name Lewis Allan.
Billie was a wonderful performer, but was not known as a song-writer. Composing and performing are two completely different skills, and although some folks posess both skills, there are some who should stick to what they're good at.


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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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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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
Date: 20 Mar 23 - 08:24 AM

Woody Guthrie's 'Slipknot' mentioned yet?


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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: GUEST,guest
Date: 15 Dec 23 - 09:55 PM

Has anybody mentioned Hanging Johnny?


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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,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.
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
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 - 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 - 08:11 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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Mudcat time: 15 June 11:03 AM EDT

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