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What murder ballad is the saddest?

12 Aug 08 - 09:10 AM (#2411439)
Subject: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

In another thread we brought up murder ballads. Most of them are cautionary type tales. I brought up an old Appalchian ballad about a kid going to a woodpile to gather firewood and being bit by a Rattlesnake which led to the child's death. Yep I was scarred I think that was the worst I have ever heard. What is the worst murder ballad you have ever heard? Folk is full of these type songs so I kno we have all heard them. There has to be one that stands out to you. lol


12 Aug 08 - 09:30 AM (#2411453)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: George Papavgeris

The Two Sisters


12 Aug 08 - 09:39 AM (#2411459)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: kendall

Veil of white lace.


12 Aug 08 - 09:42 AM (#2411461)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: SharonA

Being bitten by a rattlesnake isn't murder, just death by failure to pay attention to nature. Murder ballads are "Frankie & Johnny" and "Banks of the Ohio" and "Tom Dooley" and the like..... y'know, where somebody gets murdered!

I recall a thread several years ago wherein Joe Offer mentioned a song from the Middle Ages about Jesus, as a boy, causing another little boy to die because he'd made fun of Jesus. That gets my vote as "saddest" but I'm not sure whether it was a true ballad. Joe, are you there to shed some light on this? (Pardon the pun about "light" [of the world, and all that].)


12 Aug 08 - 09:48 AM (#2411464)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

I know it's not murder when it's by a rattlesnake but it is still a very sad song involving death. But, you are right if I'm gonna ask about a murder ballad I guess I need to put one that has an actual murder in it. But, the rattlesnake song is over the top sad lol Ok if we are gonna be picky lol Just kidding.

Olmie Wise is probably my fav and saddest. Not just lyrically but melodically. It was a true story of John Lewis and Olmie Wise from North Carolina in the US.


12 Aug 08 - 09:54 AM (#2411474)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: the button

Lizzie Wan. Incest, murder, exile. It's got the lot.


12 Aug 08 - 09:56 AM (#2411477)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: bubblyrat

"Long Black Veil " is pretty tragic, really : well, for me ,anyway.


12 Aug 08 - 09:57 AM (#2411480)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Man the Cheiftans did a killer version of that. No pun intended with the term killer lol.


12 Aug 08 - 10:08 AM (#2411494)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko

... and the difference between this and rap is what exactly?


12 Aug 08 - 10:19 AM (#2411503)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Terry McDonald

Sharon - sounds like the Bitter Withy, and it was three children that Jesus caused to drown (by creating a bridge 'from the beams of the sun' that only he could cross over) for laughing at his lowly origins.


12 Aug 08 - 10:22 AM (#2411509)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

I agree there is not alot of difference with some rap. Other forms of rap there is a major difference. The whole self gratification and worshipping of money is normally absent in folk songs lol. At least the ones I have heard lol. Plus folk ballads just report the event like a recorded history that would have been forgotten or never even known about otherwise. Rap tends to glorify the violence and brags about a lack of remorse or any emotion. Don't mean to be offensive but rap at times promotes sociopathic behavior. Murder is not ever glorified in folk ballads. Olmie Wise I mentioned speaks of remorse and reverance towards Olmie while it speaks of the authors disdain for Joh Lewis for committing the horrible act. Rap is often performed without moral judgement or lack of emotion and worst case glorification.


12 Aug 08 - 10:33 AM (#2411516)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: PoppaGator

First thing I thought of was "Long Black Veil," not really a folk song (composed for the Nashville country-music industry in the 1950s), but deservedly popular among folksingers types and, well, singers of all stripes.

Writing the narrative from the point of view of the dead person is a time-honored angle, but in this case, the deceased voice is not the murder victim, but rather the falsely accused perpetrator who bit his tongue and died on the scaffold rather than hurt someone else by revealing his alibi ~ that's real tragedy.

Also coming to mind: Mississippi John Hurt's "Louis Collins," recently discussed here. The refrain "Angels laid him away" is pretty poignant.


12 Aug 08 - 10:34 AM (#2411517)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: topical tom

Already mentioned and my choice too:"Banks of the Ohio":
   
   Here


12 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM (#2411521)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

I think Lefty Frizzell was the first to record Long Black Veil. Does anyone know if I am right about that? I was shocked years ago when I found out it was written in the 50's. I had always heard folk singers do it and thought it was an old folk song. I heard a guy do a version and before he did he said " I am going to do an old song by Lefty Frizzell." I thought to myself Lefty may have done it but it is older than that. Man was I wrong lol.


12 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM (#2411522)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Will Fly

"The Wind That Shakes The Barley" is pretty sad - though it's known as "The Wind That Shakes Bill Bailey" in the Ceilidh band I occasionally play in.


12 Aug 08 - 10:43 AM (#2411525)
Subject: ADD: Bentley and Craig (McTell)
From: Big Al Whittle

Ralph McTell's 'Bentley and Craig' - I find more moving than most of the trad ones.

Bentley and Craig
(Ralph McTell)
(punctuation, grammar and dates are all Ralph's)

In 1952 in Croydon
There was bomb sites still around from the war
November that year food was scarcely off the ration
Two boys went out to rob a store.

Craig he was just about sixteen years old
Bentley he was nineteen
But Craig had a shooter stuck in his pocket
Mad him feel more like a man.

Out on the roof of Barlow and Parker
Somebody saw them there
In a matter of minutes the police had arrived
And when they saw them you can bet those boys were scared.

Craig he shouted that he had a gun
And he thought about the movies that he'd seen
Back at Fell Road they signed the rifles out
And arrived very quick back on the scene.

Some of the police got onto the rooftop
Bentley knew that he could not escape
So he gave himself up and they put him under arrest
And he begged his young friend Chris won't you do the same.

Give me the gun the sergeant cried
Let him have it Chris poor Bentley said
But a shot rang out well it tore the night in half
Well the poor policeman was lying there dead.

Some people said it was a bullet from Craig's gun
That laid that policeman away
Some people said it was a police marksman's bullet
Some people said it could be a ricochet.

Both was found guilty of murder Craig he was too young not yet a man
Though he was under arrest when the fatal shot was fired
Derek Bentley was judged old enough to hang
Bentley he was judged to be a man.

Twenty three of January in Wandsworth prison
When they took poor Bentley's life
Some people shouted and some people prayed
Some people just hung their heads and cried.

Oh you men on our behalf who sanctioned that boy's death
There's still one thing left to do
You can pardon Derek Bentley who never took a life
For Derek Bentley cannot pardon you

Derek Bentley cannot pardon you.


©Misty River Music 1982


12 Aug 08 - 10:44 AM (#2411526)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: SouthernCelt

I've always thought "Greenwood Sidie" (also called "The Cruel Mother" in some versions) related the saddest tale. It's also one of the more shocking songs for some people the first time they hear it.

SC


12 Aug 08 - 10:46 AM (#2411528)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: John on the Sunset Coast

Jayto, right you are. Frizzell had a huge hit (country) with it in 1959. Even the Kingston Trio, Burl Ives and Joan Baez beat Cash in recording the song.

My choice for saddest -- Matty Groves


12 Aug 08 - 11:08 AM (#2411544)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Severn

I tend to stay away from all the "Idiot Bastard Son" ballads (as a friend calls them like "Willow Garden", "Pretty Polly", "Knoxville Girl", "Little Glass Of Wine" and "Banks of the Ohio", maybe because I don't like the murderers, or maybe because if I hear yet another version of "Banks Of The Ohio" I'd be tempted (but would resist) to strangle the perpe-traitor themselves. Of course I wouldn't even think of harming Doc. Who would ever want to harm Doc? I didn't really mean that, Doc, honest!.....

"The Well Below The Valley" and "The Cruel Mother" tie for the top female murderers.


.....But about the grimmest character I can think of, and probably the one I'd least like to meet up with or tangle with is "Long Lankin" (and his nurse accomplice).


12 Aug 08 - 11:20 AM (#2411556)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Big Tim

Long Lankin?


12 Aug 08 - 11:33 AM (#2411562)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: PoppaGator

Lefty Frizzel was indeed the first of many to record "Long Black Veil," but he didn't write it.

It was co-written by Marijohn Wilkin and Danny Dills.


12 Aug 08 - 11:44 AM (#2411566)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Severn

A UK ballad. Try Martin Carthy's version first on one of his earlier albums or on a compilation called "Selections" where I heard it, as it might be easiest to find. A version by Ben Butcher, collected and recorded by Bob Copper is on "The Folksongs Of Britain Vol.IV: The Chid Ballads Vol.I" (Caedmon 1145) under the name of "Cruel Lincoln". It's also known as "Young Lincoln". Steeleye Span even did a reworking on "Commoner's Crown"

See if it's in the Digital Tradition. If not I'll try and find a text for you.


12 Aug 08 - 11:45 AM (#2411568)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Dave Sutherland

"Child Owlett" for sheer injustice. "Two Butchers" for utter deception.


12 Aug 08 - 11:47 AM (#2411569)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST

Cruel Mother / Down by the Greenwood Side.
Single woman falls pregnant and has a baby (we know not how, save that "she leaned her back against the thorn"). She then kills the child - surely the most desperate of measures - before meeting the ghost of the child and, in many versions, being condemned to the fires of eternal torment.
There are those who believe the title "Cruel Mother" unacceptable. Could this be the story of a young woman in fear and despair?


12 Aug 08 - 11:53 AM (#2411574)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: SINSULL

Old Shep


12 Aug 08 - 12:00 PM (#2411579)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Severn

Here you go, Big Tim.

For the senselessness and brutality of it all.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LONG LANKIN

Said my lord to my lady, as he mounted his horse:
"Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the moss."

Said my lord to my lady, as he rode away:
"Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the hay."

"Let the doors be all bolted and the windows all pinned,
And leave not a hole for a mouse to creep in."

So he kissed his fair lady and he rode away,
And he was in fair London before the break of day.

Tlhe doors were all bolted and the windows all pinned,
Except one little window where Long Lankin crept in.

"Where's the lord of this house?" Said Long Lankin,
"He's away in fair London." said the false nurse to him.
"Where's the little heir of this house ?" said Long Lankin.
"He's asleep in his cradle," said the false nurse to him.

"We'll prick him, we'll prick him all over with a pin,
And that'll make my lady to come down to him.'

So he pricked him, he pricked him all over with a pin,
And the nurse held the basin for the blood to flow in.

"O nurse, how you slumber. O nurse, how you sleep.
You leave my little son Johnson to cry and to weep."

"O nurse, how you slumber, O nurse how you snore.
You leave my little son Johnson to cry and to roar."

"I've tried him with an apple, I've tried him with a pear.
Come down, my fair lady, and rock him in your chair."

"I've tried him with milk and I've tried him with pap.
Come down, my fair lady, and rock him in your lap."

"How durst I go down in the dead of the night
Where there's no fire a-kindled and no candle alight ?"

"You have three silver mantles as bright as the sun.
Come down, my fair lady, all by the light of one."

My lady came down, she was thinking no harm
Long Lankin stood ready to catch her in his arm.

Here's blood in the kitchen. Here's blood in the hall
Here's blood in the parlour where my lady did fall.

Her maiden looked out from the turret so high
And she saw her master from London riding by.

"O master, O master, don't lay the blame on me
'Twas the false nurse and Lankin that killed your lady."

Long Lankin was hung on a gibbet so high
And the false nurse was burnt in a fire close by.

From The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, Williams and Lloyd
Recorded by Steeleye Span on Commoner's Crown and by Carthy & Swarbrick
on But Two Came By
Child #93
@murder
filename[ BOLAMKN3
TUNE FILE: BOLAMKN3
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


12 Aug 08 - 12:00 PM (#2411580)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Sandy Mc Lean

Little Blossom   (in DT)


12 Aug 08 - 12:03 PM (#2411582)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego

Originally recorded in Nashville in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell and produced by Don Law, it reached #6 on the U.S. Country chart. The song was written by composer and singer Danny Dill with Marijohn Wilkin in a folk music style in 1959. Wilkin also played piano on the original recording by Frizzell.

The writers later stated that they drew on three sources for their inspiration: Red Foley's recording of "God Walks These Hills With Me"; a contemporary newspaper report about the unsolved murder of a priest; and the legend of a mysterious veiled woman who regularly visited Rudolph Valentino's grave. Dill himself called it an "instant folksong".


12 Aug 08 - 12:17 PM (#2411600)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Mark Clark

SINSULL, I really like your answer. I am the only person I know of who actually sings that song any more. I first heard it not from Red Foley but from Elvis Presley. It was on his second LP in about 1954, the first LP I remember buying. By the 1970s I'd lost track of it and couldn't find lyrics for it anywhere. One day I walked into Main Music in Skokie, IL, and Jethro Burns was seated behind the counter leaned back with his feet up on the counter. Thinking that Jethro might actually know the lyrics, I asked if he knew them. Jethro's eyes widened in astonishment and his jaw dropped open. "Old Shep?" he whined in genuine astonishment. If he knew the lyrics, he wasn't about to admit it. He seemed amazed that anyone would want to know.

To me a good candidate for the saddest murder balled is Delia's Gone...
Shot my Delia on a Christmas night,
The very first time I shot her she hung her head and died,
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone (one more round),
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone.

Sent for the doctor, doctor come too late,
Sent for the burying man to lay out Delia straight,
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone (one more round),
Delia's gone (one more round) Delia's gone.

That one always gets me.

      - Mark


12 Aug 08 - 12:18 PM (#2411601)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: SINSULL

Tom Hall (curmudgeon) sings one about a daughter who refuses to marry a rich man chosen for her by her father. Father and brother burn her alive - charming. I was horrified the first time I heard it.
SINS


12 Aug 08 - 12:21 PM (#2411605)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Dave Sutherland

Severn - in more complete versions of Long Lankin/Lambkin - Lankin has built the castle in which the lord, lady and baby are dwelling but he has been refused payment by the lord, for various reasons, for his work. Lankin swears revenge and that is why the lord is saying to beware of him. Therefore Lankin is as much sinned against as sinning.
Perhaps the lord misunderstood him when he said that he was a Freemason lol.


12 Aug 08 - 12:23 PM (#2411608)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Volgadon

"The whole self gratification and worshipping of money is normally absent in folk songs lol. At least the ones I have heard lol."

Greensleeves?

Anyway, back to murder ballads. I can't make up my mind which is the saddest, but here are some very moving ones.

The Red Barn Murder, seeing as that actually happened.
Poor Murdered Women.
Wicked Gardner, a mother tricks her son's girlfriend into a garden at night where she runs into a psycopath.


12 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM (#2411636)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bee

Echo Mountain, by James King. It's his bluegrass retelling of the very old tale of the faithful hound, murdered by the owner who mistakenly thinks the blood-drenched hound has savaged the baby, only to find the child safe and a dead wolf nearby.

Okay, it's a dog, but it is an extreme tearjerker, I assure you, and a wrongful death is at the centre of the story. Gave my husband a case of the sniffles.


12 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM (#2411638)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bill D

Though it does not make one *sniffle* like "Old Shep" does, one very sad song is "The Twa Corbies"...in which a knight is discovered dead (presumably 'murdered') in a field by a couple of crows. As they discuss how to share the feast, the songs notes that his hawk, hounds and girlfriend have simply abandoned him and gone on, and that after the crows are finshed, "o'er his white bones... the wind shall blow forever more".
   I guess the song is too short and compact to evoke 'sadness' as we think of it....especially since it notes that "naebody kens that he lies there".


12 Aug 08 - 01:08 PM (#2411655)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Tattie Bogle

"Mill o' Tifty's Annie" AKA "Andrew Lammie".

MILL O' TIFTY

At Mill o' Tifty there lived a man, in the neighbourhood o' Fyvie,
And he had a lovely daughter dear, wha's name was bonnie Annie.
Lord Fyvie had a trumpeter, by the name o' Andrew Lammie,
And he had the airt tae win the heart o' Mill O' Tifty's Annie.

Lord Fyvie he cam tae the mill whar lived bonnie Annie,
His trumpeter rade him before, even the same Andrew Lammie.
Her mither cried her tae the door, sayin, "Come here tae me, my Annie,
Did ere ye see a bonnier man, than the trumpeter o' Fyvie.

Nothing she said, but sighing so, alas for bonnie Annie,
She darena own, her heart was won by the servant Andrew Lammie.
That nicht as a' gaed tae their beds, a sleepit soond but Annie,
Love so repressed her tender breast, thinking on Andrew Lammie.

"The first time my love and I met, 'twas in the woods o' Fyvie,
He called me mistress, I said no, I was Tifty's bonnie Annie."
Her faither cam tae hear o' this, and a letter wrote tae Fyvie,
To say his dochter was bewitched by the trumpeter of Fyvie.

Lord Fyvie he cam tae the mill, sayin "What ails ye bonnie Annie?"
"Och it's a' for love that I'm cast doon for the love of Andrew Lammie".
"Oh, Tifty, Tifty, gie consent and let yer dochter marry",
"Na, it'll be tae ane o' a higher degree than the servant Andrew Lammie."

"If she'd been born o' as rich a kin as she is rich in beauty,
I wad hae ta'en the lass mysel and made her my ain Lady".
"Oh Fyvie's lands are far and wide, and they are wondrous bonnie,
But I wadnae trade my ain dear love no for a' yer lands o' Fyvie,"

At this her faither did her scorn, and likewise did her mither,
Her sisters they did her disown, oh but wae's me for her brither.
Her brither struck her wondrous o'er wi cruel blows and mony,
He's broke her back on the temple stane a' for liking Andrew Lammie.

"Oh faither, mither, sisters a', why sae cruel tae yer Annie?
My hert was broken first by love, noo my brither's broke my body".
"Oh mither, mither, mak my bed and turn my head tae Fyvie,
For it's there I'll lie and there I'll die for the servant, Andrew Lammie".


Or maybe: Sheath and knife.


SHEATH AND KNIFE                                        

Oh 'tis whispered in the kitchen, 'tis whispered in the hall
The broom blooms bonnie, the broom blooms fair
That the King's daughter gaes wi' a bairnie by her brither
And they daur not gae doon tae the broom ony mair.

He has ta'en his sister doon tae his faither's deer park,
The broom...................
Wi' his yew tree bow and arrow, slung fast across his back
And they daur..............

And when the guard he heard her, gie a loud cry,
A silver arrer fae his bow, he suddenly let fly,

He has dug tae her a grave, that was long, wide and deep,
And he's buried his ain sister, wi' their bairnie at her feet,

And when the guard he came to his faither's hall,
There was music, there were minstrels, and dancin' and all,

Oh Willie, my son Willie, wha' gies tae ye sic pain,
I ha'e lost that sheath and knife I can never find again,

And My faither micht ha'e ships that sail upon the sea,
Ah, but sic a sheath and knife they can never bring tae me..........


12 Aug 08 - 01:16 PM (#2411669)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

What delta blues singer did Death Letter? I used to know but it is slipping my mind right now. It is not a murder ballad but...


12 Aug 08 - 01:17 PM (#2411672)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Big Al Whittle

Another worthy addition to this thread is John Kelly's magisterial version of Andrew Rose.

I urge you to see this wonderful singer of traditional material as soon as you can. As readers of the mudcat will know, I don't always enjoy traditional singers - but this guy is absolutely something else.


12 Aug 08 - 01:20 PM (#2411676)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bob Pacquin

i can help with that but dad can do that too


12 Aug 08 - 01:24 PM (#2411684)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bill D

"Andrew Rose" is almost too overwhelming to be 'sad'.


12 Aug 08 - 02:39 PM (#2411742)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Oh Death by Ralph Stanley is not a murder ballad but a chilling song about death. It is a traditional Appalachian mountain hymn if I remember right. I don't think he wrote it. It was sung at funerals before the death sitters and sin eaters did their thing.


12 Aug 08 - 02:47 PM (#2411758)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: curmudgeon

Sorry to disappoint, SINS, but I don't sing about Suzie Cleland (Child 65). But I do have The Death of Bill Brown - two killings in one song; The Banks of Airdrie-O - two sisters murdered, the third saved by brother who kills the murderer. And I have to finish learning The Bloody Gardener one of these days.

I can't stand the Long Black Veil - its insipid, its not a balld, and ghosts can't narrate.

I'm not familiar with the McTell Bentley and Craig, but its uncomfortably close to Fred/KarlDallas' Ballad of Bentley and Craig in both title and text .   .

And of course the fiddling about with the clock does make MacPherson's hanging a murder

-- Tom


12 Aug 08 - 02:50 PM (#2411760)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Terry McDonald

But no one is murdered in Andrew Rose - unless Captain Rogers' execution is classified as'murder.'


12 Aug 08 - 03:49 PM (#2411820)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Refresh


12 Aug 08 - 03:56 PM (#2411831)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Steve Gardham

Any ballad in which members of the same family unwittingly or accidentally kill each other.
Babylon Child 14 Brother kills 2 sisters and is told by third sister who she is. He kills himself.
Cruel Brother Child 11 Brother accidentally kills brother with his dagger while they are wrestling. Brother kills himself.

Cruel Mother is certainly sad and shocking but was probably written by a broadside hack as a warning to young well-heeled girls to avoid liaisons with servants. The probably very young girl of the 17thc is definitely distracted when she does the dastardly deed. Such deeds were not unheard of until quite recently now the stigma attached to bastardy is not so draconian.


13 Aug 08 - 12:19 AM (#2412218)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Kent Davis

Jayto,

Welcome to Mudcat and thanks for any interesting thread idea.

"O Death" is certainly chilling, as you say, but I wonder if it were ever sung at funerals. Do you know of any funerals at which it was sung? I can think of few songs less appropriate for such an occasion: thread.cfm?threadid=12846

I think you are correct that it is a traditional Appalachian song, but I can't see how it would be considered a hymn. The word "hymn" means, I believe, a song of praise or thanksgiving to God http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hymn. "O Death" is certainly not that.

As for its having been sung "before the...sin eaters did their thing", I would appreciate a reference or two, if possible. The idea that one could alter the eternal fate of someone already dead is about as unAppalachian a belief as any I've heard. In Appalachia, the traditional idea is summed up in Hebrews 9:27-28 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." No room for sin-eaters there, just one sin-bearer and that is Christ himself.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time, just trying to question what looks to me like a bit of fakelore you've picked up. I'd be glad to stand corrected if I'm wrong about this.

Kent


13 Aug 08 - 04:44 AM (#2412317)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,HSA

For pure pathos I would go with Mill O' Tiftie's Annie as mentioned previously.

For malevolence in the brother-gets-sister pregnant-then kills-her genre I would suggest "The Rich Man's Daughter" not already mentioned which ends with the lines:
"so the rich man's daughter died that day, her child it died within her
But the rich man's son still goes his way, a vile and dreadful sinner"
No repentence there then.

Helen


13 Aug 08 - 05:10 AM (#2412328)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Ruth Archer

Child Morris, though the version that brings tears to my eyes is Martin Carthy's Bill Norrie:

"Once I was full of this boy
As the plum is of the stone..."


13 Aug 08 - 06:58 AM (#2412359)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,George Henderson

In most versions of Andrew Rose the mistreated sailor survives. But, in fact, I believe that he actually died before they arrived in Liverpool. The story is based on fact.


13 Aug 08 - 07:57 AM (#2412386)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: DMcG

I'd second the vote for 'Sheath and Knife'. The brother is begged by his sister to kill her because of their incestuous relationship, which he does. Afterwards, he mourns the loss and still believes his sister was his only true love, rejecting all others. That takes some beating for sadness.


13 Aug 08 - 08:25 AM (#2412402)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Marion

M.Ted wrote a song, "Ballad of Kayla Rolland", about a little girl in first grade shot by a boy in her class (2000 in Michigan).


13 Aug 08 - 08:43 AM (#2412421)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Kent I am not a historian nor claim to be. Sin eaters are not something that is practiced today. I put that up there as a half way tongue in cheek joke. I have heard stories about the sin eaters my whole life. Older people mainly told me about the practice and it did exist. You will find there are alot of takes on biblical text. If there was not different viewpoints on the text we would not have so many different types of churches. Penecostals, Holiness, etc... I am not a religous scholar either so don't hammer me on that. Are you familiar with death eaters? If you are maybe you can help me if I was misinformed. Explain your take on the death eaters and what they were suppose to do. As far as Biblical interpretation it is not as black and white as you say it is c'mon you know that. Personally I have never seen a death eater I have only heard tales fakelore or folklore at times it is hard to make a distinction. All I have is a lifetime of stories from older people about the practice. Foot washings, covering mirrors, sitting with the dead, there are alot of old traditions that are rare if practiced at all anymore but they once were. The song Oh death I don't know I dig the song I had heard that it was a funeral song from several people it may not be who knows. and I don't really care. That is the one I have heard the least about. The death eaters though is something I know was a practice at least in certain areas because I have heard alot of older people talk about it. Anyway I put death eaters and death sitters in a half joking way lighten up.


13 Aug 08 - 09:40 AM (#2412447)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: kendall

I recorded Old Shep on my first Folk Legacy vinal. One of the first songs I ever learned.
Old Rover is far sadder, Old Gilbert even sadder.

By the way, it is not possible to murder a dog. Only humans get murdered.


13 Aug 08 - 09:48 AM (#2412454)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

You all have got me wanting to hear Old Shep. I haven't heard it since I was a kid and barely remember the song. All this talk about it is making me want to gtrack it down. Are there any suggestions on a particular version I should try to locate?


13 Aug 08 - 10:24 AM (#2412475)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Uncle_DaveO

The word(s) to characterize Old Shep is/are "put down", "kill", or "euthanize", but not "murder". Besides that "murder" applies only to humans, "murder" implies ill will toward the victim. The putting down of Old Shep is done out of pity or mercy.

Dave Oesterreich


13 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM (#2412495)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,HiLo

Miles Weatherhill and Sarah Bell is one of My Favourites as is Clerk Saunders. There are so many really Good ones it is hard to choose.Banks of The Sweet Dundee is another that comes to mind.


13 Aug 08 - 03:58 PM (#2412809)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Big Al Whittle

I'd second Old Shep.

A much better song than the not very interesing Sheath and Knife. I have seen folksingers debollocking themselves for years trying to inject a bit of interest into this interminable load of old socks. I mean seriously....

'Its about incest'

Oh really! I used to teach at a school where half the families were shagging each other. This song expresses little of the truth of the situation.

I don't get it. I am willing to be enlightened. the broom blooming bonny and fair for example....

wossitall about Alfie? Is it just wopabopalooma! Abopbam boom! Or is there some great (very well) hidden meaning?


13 Aug 08 - 06:52 PM (#2412978)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Snuffy

I had a request for Old Shep last week, and after I'd sung it, the lady said "That was very nice, but it's not the one I meant: I wanted the other one about the dog, you know..."

I didn't, and still don't.


13 Aug 08 - 07:18 PM (#2412993)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Deckman

"Star of Bannack" Bob(deckman)Nelson


13 Aug 08 - 07:37 PM (#2413005)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Not a traditional folk but a folk style song Tecumseh Valley by Townes Van Zandt


13 Aug 08 - 07:42 PM (#2413011)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: kendall

Jayto, order Lights Along the Shore from Folk Legacy records.


13 Aug 08 - 07:45 PM (#2413014)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Thanks Kendall


13 Aug 08 - 11:33 PM (#2413144)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Kent Davis

Jayto,

Again, thanks for an interesting thread idea and, again, welcome to Mudcat. I'm glad you're here and hope you'll stay around. We can probably learn a lot from each other.

I never questioned the existence of sin eaters. I questioned their existence in Appalachia.

I have no wish to "hammer you" on Biblical texts or religions. I am puzzled by your statement, "As far as Biblical interpretation it is not as black and white as you say it is c'mon you know that." To what are you referring? I said nothing about Biblical interpretation being black and white. I said nothing about my own religious beliefs. I did say that the common religions of the 19th Century Appalachians (the Southern Appalachians, that is) base their beliefs on texts such as Hebrews 9:27,28. While those religions indeed disagree on several points, they were (and are still) in agreement that no one except Christ could take on, could "eat", another person's sin. This is true of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, etc. Therefore it seems unlikely that sin-eating was practiced in Southern Appalachia. You seem to think otherwise, and you may be right. I am eager to be corrected. What causes you to think that sin-eating was practiced in Appalachia?

Kent


14 Aug 08 - 01:12 AM (#2413196)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Sorry if I misinterpreted your meaning. I thought you were saying you didn't believe me. This is the first time I have been on any kind of thread before. Well I had a few on the Chet Atkins chetboard thing so I apologize for being well....:) I have been told stories by alot of older people about the sin eaters. After a person died they would place small cakes (I always envisioned cup cakes or something like it),Cookies and other things like bread on the body of the deceased. A person normally of high ranking in the church would enter the house (where the body traditionally spent it's last night before burial) and would say a prayer and the eat the cakes,cookies,or whatever off of the clothing of the deceased. This was to symbolize the destruction of the sins before entering heaven. The person that was sitting with the dead would then enter the room and spend the night with the deceased. The sin eater would not be able to get the person into heaven by eating the sin cakes it was just part of a ritualistic prayer. I don't recall anyone saying that a sin would be forgiven because of the sin eater's action or saying someone would not get to heaven because a sin eater didn't eat thier sins. It was part of an archaic ritual that is (as far as I know) not performed anymore. There are all kind of debates about religious practices around here. Snake handlers are one that everyone seems to know about. It says in the Bible if you are one with God you can drink poison and it will not harm you and handle venomous serpents and they will not hurt you (paraphrased of course). So they drink stricnine ( man I am not sure how you spell that) and handle Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. You have Pentecostal and Holliness chuches that believe in speaking in tongues. Jesus sent his disciples into foriegn lands and gave them the gift of toungues to communicate. Well they believe that "tongues" is the language of God you recieve it when you are "filled with the holy ghost" or "slain in the spirit". I helped a few times with a program called "The Mountain Mission." We gathered clothes and sent up to Eastern Kentucky for the poor. We had all used clothing returned to us because they were used. I was confused as to why I knew they needed them. We were told that (the area they were sent I don't want to step on anybody's toes here) the people did not want them. They thought that the people that wore the clothes were sinners and the sins and demons would be attached to the clothing. From then on we could only accept new clothing. There are some odd practices in appalchia. Part of what makes the folk music so pure is the same thing that puzzles us about the people. In parts they are unchanged and uninfluenced by external factors.


14 Aug 08 - 03:15 AM (#2413248)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll

I have to admit that my first reaction to the term 'saddest' was 'that's a bit superficial'; but when I thought about it it really got the blood coursing. For me, Tiftie's Annie, Lambkin and Sheath and Knife are about 'women as chattels', 'feudal injustice', and 'incest leading to assisted suicide and castration', respectively, and most of the ballads I know are far too many-faceted to be pinned down to one single emotion; that's what makes them so involving. Though I do remember hearing MacColl talk about having to learn the ballad 'Edom o' Gordon' and explaining how he always had a problem identifying and sympathising with the 'family dispute' border ballads. He said he was having no luck with it until he got to the verse where the teenage daughter asks to be saved from the blazing house by being "wrapped in a pair of sheets and thrown over the wall", where she is impaled on the point of Gordon's sword.

And Gordon turned her ower and ower, and oh, her face was white.
"I might have spared that bonnie face to be some man's delight".

And Gordon turned her ower and ower, and oh, her face was wan.
He said, "You are the first I've slain I wished alive again".

Oh woe be to the castle that was built with stone and lime,
And woe be to Lady Campbell herself who was burned with her children nine.

Three of them were married wives, and three of them were bairns,
And three of them were leal maidens who ne'er lay in men's arms.

MacColl said that after that the ballad fell into place; "the waste, the bloody waste of human life - that's what these ballads are all about".

For me, the songs that invoke sadness tend to be the modern compositions: MacColl's 'Ballad of Sharpville", Dallas's 'Tim Evans' and 'Julian Grimeau', Don Lange's 'Allende's Song', Pete Smith's 'Clayton Aniline', all 'murder ballads' in their own way, though the sadness is usually tinged with anger.
As several people have already said, thanks for a thought-provoking question,
Jim Carroll


14 Aug 08 - 05:57 AM (#2413310)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll

PS
Steve
I was a little surprised to see The Cruel mother described as "probably written by a broadside hack". We have no idea who wrote 'The Cruel Mother'; we do know it is very old and popular enough to have survived, both among adults and children, right up to the present day.
The broadside trade was very much a two-way street, its participants taking as much (if not more) from the tradition as they gave to it.
The reference to the lady being pregnant by 'her father's clerk' probably refers to a household cleric, which would add to her problems I should have thought.
Jim Carroll


14 Aug 08 - 11:52 AM (#2413614)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted

Kent, you're forgetting something I know that you know, which is that formal religious doctrine often has little to nothing to do with the day-to-day practices and customs in a religious community--

"Religion" is often a thin veneer that covers layer upon layer of superstition, unexamined belief, and ritual whose original meanings often have been lost or changed over the course of many generations.

Thanks for your description of the "sin eaters", Jayto. I grew up in a Northern factory town, and many of my playmates were transplants from Appalachia.   I never saw the "sin eaters" first hand, but knew that it happened, from things that I heard from friends.

I was disturbed by the descriptions of the custom--it was not until many years later that I realized that the little cakes that my elderly relatives baked and sent to the homes of the bereaved were a vestige of the same custom.


14 Aug 08 - 12:07 PM (#2413639)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted

From "Funeral customs, Their Origin and Development", by Bertram S. Puckle, 1926.:

Howlett mentions sin-eating as an old custom in Hereford, and thus describes the practice: "The corpse being taken out of the house, and laid on a bier, a loaf of bread was given to the sin-eater over the corpse, also a maga-bowl of maple, full of beer. These consumed, a fee of sixpence was given him for the consideration of his taking upon himself the sins of the deceased, who, thus freed, would not walk after death."


14 Aug 08 - 12:12 PM (#2413643)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Yeah I am 35 but when I was a kid the whole idea gave me the creeps. When I wrote about the clothing being returned I didn't mean it to be "Look how odd they are." I meant that there is still a belief by some that clothing and personal items can trap sins and spirits to be passed on to others. I can imagine (my own speculation) that if they believe that sins and spirits can be trapped by clothing and personal items I can see how a they believe a sin eater can remove sin from the items. I don't know if there is a link right there or not but I have wondered. A person filled with the spirit of God eating something filled with sin (drink harmful poison and will not hurt you because God is in you) may be able to kill the sin or spirit because God is in them (maybe this was the belief). The sin eater didn't destroy the sin God is in the sin eater and God did? I don't know just speculating. Intercessory prayer is another thing that reminds me of sin eating beliefs. There is alot of different views on this as well. A minority view (mainly Holiness and Pentecostal but not all of these either) think that certain people have the "gift" of intercessory prayer. Views of intercessory prayer are different and drastic. I know of some groups that believe that the person the has recieved "the gift" of intercessory prayer physically and mentally feels the pain of others torn by sin. If I had a headache the intercessor will have a headache and know to pray for you because the Devil is trying to break your bond with God by making you hurt. If I have a toothache the intercessor has a toothache. If I am stressed out over bills or just a bad day the intercessor will be stressed out. Basically the intercessor "takes on the sins and prays them away for you." I put that in quotes because that is what a preacher told me when I asked about a member of his congregation's unusual behavior. He told me that sometimes a person doesn't realize how much they are a sinner so God shows it to the intercessor through pain. The intercessor may not know who they are praying for but God makes them suffer for them until the intercessor prays the sin away. That freaked me out!! I should write a book about this sometime lol.


14 Aug 08 - 12:26 PM (#2413659)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,DaveP

I heard a guy murder Sally Wheatley the other night - that was really sad.


14 Aug 08 - 12:38 PM (#2413671)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted

This is all very old stuff, Jayto--anthropologists find the beliefs among "remote savages" and talk about the way that they are among the oldest and most primitive religious ideas, meanwhile it doesn't occur to people that a lot of people walking around in our supposedly modern and enlightened world still believe the same things.

I call this stuff "Identified weirdness", because we see the beliefs in, say, rural Appalachians who talk, dress, and behave in ways that are identifiably different, and associate the beliefs with the "differences"--

In reality, a lot of the people with "differences" don't hold the beliefs, and a lot of people who behave, speak, and dress in the "same" way as the mainstream actually hold the beliefs, but don't express them in an "identifiably weird" way.

There is a fair amount of evidence that, even in the middle ages, when these sort of beliefs seemed to flourish, there were a lot of people who knew that they were not true, and, in fact considered them foolish.


14 Aug 08 - 01:13 PM (#2413741)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

You know the practices I am speaking about are only performed by a few if they are practiced at all anymore. I have lived here for the majority of my life. My great great grandfather was the founding father of Muhlenburg county (The next couny to my east about 5 miles from where I grew up). People laugh and say that when my family came into this area it was so new they had to pack the dirt in to bury themselves with. My girlfriends family is the same way they founded Hopkins County (the county I live in). We will hear stories and things that someone just moving in will never hear. A person could move in here and live here 90 yrs and never hear the old stories or know about the odd customs. In general the people are just as modern as anywhere else. They are still very clannish in some respects. If your not from here no matter how long you live here you will still be asked "Your not from around here are you?" I guess that is my point. People know my family has been here longer than the state has been a state. The same way with my girlfriend. You don't have to tell them all you have to do is say you last name. People are still very much ties to the past. It is not uncommon for you to meet someone and find out your great grandfather was best friends with thier great great uncle when they were kids. The odd customs may not be practiced (for the most part) but they are remembered and held with respect. There might be a little laughter or jokes made but not much. The people are just so tied to the past.


14 Aug 08 - 01:18 PM (#2413748)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: The Sandman

Blair Peach.


14 Aug 08 - 03:26 PM (#2413907)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Steve Gardham

Jim,
TCM is just about my favourite ballad in its more recent forms. In its earliest known form, the 17thc broadside 'The Duke's Daughter's Cruelty' it is to me a typical warning to upper class young maids to avoid liaisons with family servants, as you say, in this case a cleric. There is absolutely no reason or evidence to suggest that the ballad is any older than this broadside version which contains all of the verses other than those borrowed in Scotland from Child 21 The Maid and the Palmer. Some of the style and language has been borrowed from oral tradition, but wasn't that ever the case?

Steve


14 Aug 08 - 05:02 PM (#2414008)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Harmonium Hero

I'm only just catching up with this - I've been away.
Bee: I haven't heard 'Echo Mountain', but there's a town - or a village, I can't remember - in North Wales called Beddgelert, which is supposed to be the burial place of the dog Gelert, whose owner, Llewelyn killed him in the mistaken belief that the dog had killed his baby son. Apparently the tale is also known in other European cultures...You're right; the tale's a real tear-jerker. I have sung a version of it. I had to sing it quite a few times before I could get through it without welling up!
Terry McDonald: As George Henderson says, 'Andrew Rose is a true story. And yes - he died about four days out from Liverpool, as a direct result of a relentless campaign of abuse and cruelty inflicted by the captain and the two mates. Does the victim have to drop dead on the spot for it to be called murder?
Bill D: 'The Twa Corbies' wasn't meant to be 'sad'; it was apparently written as a synical parody (if that's the word) on the earlier song 'The Three Ravens'.
What about 'Lord Gregory'? AKA 'Lass of Loch Royan' etc. Pretty tragic for my money. I even put it on my CD....
Just struggling with me coat here...John Kelly.


14 Aug 08 - 05:44 PM (#2414049)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Harmonium Hero

Er...me again; It's just struck me that I was getting a bit carried away with meself there - Lord Gregory isn't about murder, although the girl ends up dead. Tragic, though. JK.


14 Aug 08 - 09:03 PM (#2414185)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Kent Davis

M.Ted, You are certainly right in saying that, "formal religious doctrine often has little to nothing to do with the day-to-day practices and customs in a religious community--"

My family has lived in the Southern Appalachians for 7 generations, as has my wife's family. Besides what I've learned from my family and hers, I've been reading Appalachian folklore for over 30 years. I've also been reading about different religious practices for over 30 years. Except in this thread, I've never seen any reports of the practice of sin-eating in Appalachia. If you or Jayto or anybody has any information about the practice here, I hope you will start a new thread on the topic and include references that are as specific as possible. Thanks.

Kent


14 Aug 08 - 11:10 PM (#2414240)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Joe_F

Mary Hamilton.
Danny Deever.


15 Aug 08 - 01:10 AM (#2414273)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: fumblefingers

Nashville Girl


15 Aug 08 - 01:56 AM (#2414285)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Well Ted maybe we can agree to disagree about the topic. I don't want to bicker and lose a potential new friend over a petty argument. If I am wrong i'm wrong and if I am right I'm right it really doesn't matter. If I am wrong I can assure you it is unintentional. I am not trying to mislead anyone. It's a pleasure to meet you Ted and I hope we have plenty of pleasant conversations in the future.


15 Aug 08 - 02:02 AM (#2414290)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

I mean Ken not Ted I need to go to bed lol


15 Aug 08 - 04:30 AM (#2414345)
Subject: Lyr Add - Crazy Man Michael
From: Jay777

Crazy Man Michael- Fairport Convention.

Within the fire and out upon the sea
Crazy Man Michael was walking
He met with a raven with eyes black as coals
And shortly they were a-talking

"Your future, your future, I would tell to you
Your future, you often have asked me
Your true love will die by your own right hand
And Crazy Man Michael will cursed be"

Michael he ranted and Michael he raved
And beat at the four winds with his fists-oh
He laughed and he cried, he shouted and he swore
For his mad mind had trapped him with a kiss-oh

"You speak with an evil, you speak with a hate
You speak for the devil that haunts me
For is she not the fairest in all the broad land?
Your sorceror's words are to taunt me"

He took out his dagger of fire and of steel
And struck down the raven through the heart-oh
The bird fluttered long and the sky it did spin
And the cold earth did wonder and start-oh

"Oh, where is the raven that I struck down dead
That here'd lie on the ground-oh?
I see but my true love with a wound so red"
Her lover's heart it did pound-oh

Crazy Man Michael, he wanders and walks
And talks to the night and the day-oh
But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is clear
And he longs to be far away-oh

Michael he whistles the simplest of tunes
And asks the wild woods their pardon
For his true love is flown into every flower grown
And he must be keeper of the garden


15 Aug 08 - 08:22 AM (#2414465)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll

"TCM is just about my favourite ballad in its more recent forms."
Mine to, but don't think there is anything like enough of the earliest fragment to give the slightest clue as to its origins; nor do I think the title chosen by the broadside producer is an indication.
Probably not the most appropriate place to discuss this - over a pint next time we're in London maybe.
Best
Jim Carroll


15 Aug 08 - 08:32 AM (#2414474)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Volgadon

Mr. Fox.


15 Aug 08 - 08:45 AM (#2414485)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Out of folk writers who do you think wrote the consistently saddest or most depressing songs? I think Townes Van Zandt would have to recieve my vote. I love Townes but I can only listen to him in small doses. He was a brilliant lyricist I think but I can feel the pain in every word wrote and sung by him.


15 Aug 08 - 10:37 AM (#2414592)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Steve Gardham

Jim,
Wilco.
Over and out.
Steve


15 Aug 08 - 11:50 AM (#2414651)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: M.Ted

Here's a recipe, clipped from the NYT:

Kentucky Funeral Cake

Yield: About 4 dozen.
(Adapted from ''Kentucky Cooking'' by Charles Patteson with Craig Emerson) Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour and 20 minutes 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan 2 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the pan 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups sugar 4 large eggs 1 cup milk 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

2.Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly. Fold in the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Stir in vanilla.

4.Pour into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake 60 to 70 minutes longer, until the cake is brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold and continue cooling.

Yield: 1 large cake.


15 Aug 08 - 12:40 PM (#2414698)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Sounds yummy Ted lol Maybe we can make one and all eat it as a truce on this sin eater thing lol. I am gonna have to find a sin eater and have him eat the sin of bringing the subject up lol.


15 Aug 08 - 01:41 PM (#2414783)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,cStu

The Ballad Of Hollis Brown


15 Aug 08 - 03:18 PM (#2414847)
Subject: Little Omie Wise
From: GUEST,TalkingBird

The Ballad of Omie Wise tells the very sad real-life story of the murder of the diminutive orphan Naomi Wise. She was killed by her lover, who lured her to a secluded spot by telling her they were going away to elope. His mother opposed his marriage to the orphan girl and had what she felt was a more suitable wife picked out for him. Little Omie loved him and trusted him, but John killed her to get rid of her so he could follow his mother's wishes. The song was recorded by Doc Watson, John McCutcheon, and many others, in a variety of forms.


15 Aug 08 - 03:26 PM (#2414851)
Subject: What Became of Arthur Clyde
From: TalkingBird

Less well known, but also very sad, is the traditional ballad about the murder of Arthur Clyde by his fiancé's brother during a heated argument. The brother immediately regrets the terrible deed and its effect on his beloved sister, and he confesses to her while dying. He may have killed himself out of remorse and guilt, though the song doesn't say explicitly. The confession apparently takes place long after the actual murder, since he tells her that it took place "one autumn evening." He tells of disposing of Arthur Clyde's body, so presumably his sister never knew her lover had been killed, and she may have assumed until this confession that he'd abandoned her. The song was recorded by Loman Cansler on the Folkways album "Missouri Folk Songs." A clip of it can be heard at http://www.folkways.si.edu/trackdetail.aspx?itemid=12139


WHAT BECAME OF ARTHUR CLYDE

I am dying, sister, dying, and my voice is getting low.
There is something I must tell you, sister dear, before I go.

Sister darling, Arthur's missing, whom you longed someday to wed.
Weep not, faint not, oh dear sister, when I tell you Arthur's dead.

Him you loved, but him I hated; hated why I was not sure;
But to see him with you, sister, was more than I could endure.

So at last, one autumn evening, as the pale moon lightly shone,
Down beside the rolling water, I met Arthur all alone.

Words that passed I don't remember, for I in the passion flew;
And we fought with sword and dagger. Then and there I Arthur slew.

Then I thought of you, dear sister, thought how you'd be left alone;
And I'd give my life, dear sister, to undo this deed I'd done.

But I knew that with all my weeping, all the tears that I might shed
Could not bring life back to Arthur, lying there so cold and dead.

So I took his lifeless body, cast it o'er the river side;
And I leave this world to wonder what became of Arthur Clyde.


15 Aug 08 - 07:17 PM (#2415035)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Acorn4

I think "Lord Gregory" because of the bits it leaves out - implication is suicide rather than murder, but the sense of injustice is very evocatively put across.


16 Aug 08 - 06:20 AM (#2415303)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Dave Sutherland

If you are looking for injustice then "Baron o'Brackley" is pretty hard to beat although some notes suggest that it was a revenge/retaliation killing.
One very moving ballad is "The Border Widow's Lament" where the second verse
"There came a knight by middle day,
He spied his sport and went his way,
He brought the King that very night,
And slew my man before my sight"

suggests a totally motiveless killing. Possibly there was more to the original ballad than the story that survives?


16 Aug 08 - 07:27 AM (#2415319)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll

The Border Widow's Lament is Walter Scott's re-write of the traditional ballad Famous Flower of Serving Men (Child 106).
The widow of a slain knight disguises herself as as a man and gets employment as the king's manservant. She is discovered by the king who returns unexpectedly from a hunting trip. They marry and all live happily ...... etc.
Probably the most beautifully tragic of the ballads is 'Bonnie Annie' aka as 'The Banks of Green Willow'.
A woman becomes pregnant by a sailor and is smuggled on board ship, where she gives birth.
The ship is becalmed and the sailors claim that there is a sinner on board. The mother and child are discovered, thrown overboard and drowned and (in the English version) "will be buried on the Banks of Green Willow".
Jim Carroll


16 Aug 08 - 10:18 AM (#2415369)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)

'The Old Oak Tree', sung by Cathal McConnell on the first Boys of the Lough album. By comparison, most of the songs mentioned here are about as sad as 'Ernie, The Fastest Milkman In The West'. Which ia also sad, but in another way.


16 Aug 08 - 10:58 AM (#2415382)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Coinneach1916

Try The Ballad of Tim Evans by Ewan MacColl.
Sad song of a man wrong accused and hanged for the murder of his wife and child. This was an actual case in England in the '50's.


18 Aug 08 - 01:40 PM (#2417016)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Harmonium Hero

'The Border Widow's Lament' is reckoned to date from King James 5th's campaign in 1529 to bring law and order to the borders. The hanged man is said to be one Perys Cockburn of Henderland, a freebooter who they left hanging from the gate of his own tower (although, as with 'Lord Gregory', I have heard that the story also appears in other cultures). Hardly like to mention it, but this, too, appears on my CD along with 'lord Gregory' and 'Andrew Rose'....
John Kelly. ('Angin's & Drownin's a speciality)


18 Aug 08 - 06:19 PM (#2417253)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy

Probably best to stick to fact and what you know from personal experience, rather than hearsay and conjecture when discussing the beliefs and customs of a particular area or group of people.


19 Aug 08 - 06:10 AM (#2417571)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Bryn Pugh

Young Johnston does it for me. The girlfriend hides him from his pursuers, and he knifes her for her pains and watches her bleed to death.

Four and twenty clothyard shafts saw to him, tho' - nothing like making sure, is there ?


19 Aug 08 - 08:48 AM (#2417643)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Girl Friday

For a murder ballad, Banks of The Ohio has the most sickly,sweet tune.
We've put it into C minor and it sounds psychotic - which it should do.

Tone Deaf Leopard. We perform our own compositions, childe ballads, parodies, 70s pop and folk, in fact everything but Def Leppard songs.
TDL


19 Aug 08 - 09:16 AM (#2417670)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Leadfingers

100


19 Aug 08 - 09:17 AM (#2417671)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Leadfingers

And the Tim Evans case was one of the reasons Capital Punishment was taken off the books .


19 Aug 08 - 08:42 PM (#2418229)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Charley Noble

"Poor Ellen Smith" and "Wild Bill Jones" are two more Appalachian murder ballads but maybe not the saddest. "Rain and Snow" is another one.

Then there's "Eggs and Marrowbones."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


19 Aug 08 - 10:24 PM (#2418304)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Neil D

Jayto asks: Out of folk writers who do you think wrote the consistently saddest or most depressing songs?

   I have heard Leonard Cohen's songs described as "real shower rod music", meaning they are so depressing they could make you suicidal.
Personally, I love his music and it never makes me depressed, reflective maybe, but not depressed. Now Terry Jacks on the other hand...
   

   As to the saddest murder ballad:
I say "The Well Below the Valley"
My wife says "Ballad of Hollis Brown" by Bob Dylan
My son says "When the Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks


20 Aug 08 - 05:12 PM (#2418936)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Mike B.

Songs that recount some of the heinous crimes that galvanized the civil rights movement in the south - such as Pete Seeger's "Those Three Are On My Mind", Richard Farina's "Birmingham Sunday" and Bob Dylan's "The Death Of Emmett Till".


20 Aug 08 - 05:31 PM (#2418953)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Leneord Cohen does write some dark material. I love his work and agree with you 100%. Townes still gets me harder and faster than anybody but man Cohen does rank up there with me as well.
Girl Friday that is awsome there are few things you can do to make a ballad darker than putting it in a minor key. I would love to hear your version of Banks.


20 Aug 08 - 08:28 PM (#2419104)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Girl Friday

Jayto. I have pm'd you about this one.


21 Aug 08 - 12:56 AM (#2419200)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jayto

Thanks Girl Friday I can't wait.


21 Aug 08 - 05:15 PM (#2419731)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Art Thieme

Arguably, this is a murder ballad. When you consider the sad state of medical care a while ago, it seems to be one to me.

The Death Of Queen Jane
as sung by Bascom Lamar Lunsford

Art Thieme


27 Aug 08 - 06:32 PM (#2423782)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: TalkingBird

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll by Bob Dylan.
In addition to the sadness of the murder itself (a wealthy young white man, already drunk, beat a 50-year-old black waitress with his cane, for bringing his drink too slowly) there's also the sadness of the justice system which gave the killer 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. His defense was that he was drunk and didn't know what he was doing, and he was reported in a newspaper account at the time to have gloated about the lightness of the sentence.


27 Aug 08 - 08:27 PM (#2423878)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Martin Farrell

What about "The Murder of Maria Marten" as sung by Shirley Collins?


04 Mar 09 - 08:08 AM (#2580977)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST

Welcome to Mudcat - Jayto - I learn something new all the time here.

On the Topic of murder

CLASSIC - excerpt- see DT for full
Haunting in tune and lyrics is "Ash Grove." In the DT http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=3663

Her father unwilling and threatening the worst
Did shoot at the lad, but the bowstring was twisted
So crooked the arrow struck deep in her breast.
In anger, the squire, his sword at the ready,
Did thrust at the heart of the unflinching lad.
"'Tis better to die by my own lover's side
Than to live in sorrow in the Palace Ash-grove."

MODERN - excerpt - see DT for full - Billie Holiday
Haunting in tune and lyrics is "Strange Fruit" in the DT http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=5566

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

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

Just because you have not seen something does not mean it does not exist. I was VERY doubtful about this "sin-eating" thing... (Kent Davis comment in another thread led me here) I learned something of a different culture - thanks. Likewise, Mr. Jayto, it is doubtful you would have witnessed it, so regarding your statementalot of old traditions that are rare if practiced at all anymore but they once were. Foot Washing is still actively practiced and it is not rare; it is part of the three-fold-communion and one of the most sacred of celebrations within some churchs.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


04 Mar 09 - 01:18 PM (#2581196)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: frogprince

"Killing Me Softly With His Song" ; )


04 Mar 09 - 01:42 PM (#2581228)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: JohnB

Still got to go with Sheath and Knife.
Although this month I think Danny Boy gets murdered the most.
JohnB.


04 Mar 09 - 01:46 PM (#2581231)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Rifleman (inactive)

Poor Murdered Woman, again, by The Albion Country Band, with Shirley Collins. Based upon a real event, the sad part being that the name of the victim, and anything else about her, is completely unknown to this day.

Martin Carthy said in the
But Two Came By sleeve notes:

"The Poor Murdered Woman Laid on the Cold Ground is a fairly short and simple song which describes what I can only describe as a non-event, but it is the kind of song to which I am attracted, as having a lot more underneath it than is at first obvious. No one know who this woman is, nor where she comes from, but everyone nonetheless is stirred to action."


04 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM (#2581275)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: JedMarum

Mama's Lily


05 Mar 09 - 03:46 PM (#2582028)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: JHW

I posted all the text of Poor Murdered Woman earlier but it seems not to have landed though as its now had a mention how about

Border Widow's Lament

My love built me a bonny bower
And clad it over with Lily flower,
A brawer bower ye ne'er would see
Than my true love, he built for me

There came a man by middle day
Who spied his sport and went away,
He came again at dead of night,
Both brak ma bower and slew ma night

He slew my knight, tae me sae dear,
He slew my knight aye and poined his gear,
My servants all for life did flee
And left me in extremity

I washed his corse, makin ma main,
I sewed his sheet myself alane,
I watched his body, night and day,
Nae living creature came that way

I took his body on my back
And times I walked and times I sat,
I dug a grave and I laid him in
And topped him with the sod sae green

Wid ye nay think my heart was sare
When I laid the soil on his yellow hair
And wid ye nay think my heart was wae
When I turned about away tae gae

Nae living man I'll loo again
Since that my handsome knight is slain
With aye a lock of his yellow hair
I'll chain ma heart for evermare.


Apologies for the spelling attempts.
This is I think something like I heard it and sing it.
There are versions from both sides of the England/Scotland border though tragically the song might well be for many a widow of many another border.

Oh and 'Long Black Veil', sad as it is, has no murder.


06 Mar 09 - 12:26 AM (#2582322)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Artful Codger

Wouldn't the saddest be the one about you?


06 Mar 09 - 04:45 AM (#2582399)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: bseed(charleskratz)

Not exactly a folk ballad, but one of the saddest murder songs I know is the following, by Cole Porter:

MISS OTIS REGRETS

Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today, madam,
Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today.
She is sorry to be delayed,                                             
But last evening down in Lover's Lane she strayed, madam,
Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today.


When she woke up and found her dream of love was gone,
        madam,
She ran to the man who had led her so far astray,
And from under her velvet gown,
She drew a gun and shot her lover down, madam,
Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today


When the mob came and got her and dragged her from the jail,
        madam,
They strung her up on the old willow across the way
And the moment before she died,
She lifted up her lovely head and cried, madam,
Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today
(spoken tearfully) Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today

These are the lyrics as sung by Marian Anderson (not the version I remember, which was more bluesy and had instrumental breaks between the verses). I like to play it on a fretless banjo--and I'm currently filing the frets down to the board of one of my banjos--primarily for this song--I'm having to file them down because they are too rounded for me to get ahold of them with my cheapo imitation of a fret pulling tool which I used to pull the frets from the neck of a Rover--which I later sold.

Charles


06 Mar 09 - 05:49 AM (#2582415)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Brian Peters

A lot of the choices in this interesting thread seem to me to be 'grisly' rather than simply 'sad'. I'd second Carthy's 'Bill Norrie' and 'The Banks of Green Willow', though.

No-one has yet mentioned 'The Banks of Red Roses' as sung by Sara Makem (and later by Pete Coe). It's only one song amongst many describing the murder of a young woman by her lover, with unwanted pregnancy implied, but it's powerfully told and set to beautifully plaintive tune. The murder is described in cold-blooded detail, but it's the recurrence after the event of the refrain "Oh my Johnny, lovely Johnny, don't you leave me" that really gets to me. She loves him even as he plans her death, and believes until the last minute that they're just going for a country stroll. Heartbreaking.


07 Mar 09 - 10:22 AM (#2583282)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Susanne (skw)

I suppose the ones I'm thinking about also might be classed as 'gruesome' rather than 'sad': The Cruel Ship's Captain and a German song about three robbers abducting a young girl, and because they can't agree about who is going to get her they 'cut her up like a fish'. Always gives me the shivers.


07 Mar 09 - 11:51 PM (#2583666)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,mike

Rose Connally, performed by Everly Bros or Art Garfunkle


08 Mar 09 - 01:27 AM (#2583680)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Art Thieme

"Sad Day In Texas" as done by the writer o' it, Otis Spann on the composite record called Can't Keep From Crying---Topical Blues on the Death Of President John F. Kennedy.

Art Thieme


08 Mar 09 - 09:42 AM (#2583833)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: sharyn

I sing nearly all of the sad ballads mentioned, For me, Sheath and Knife is the saddest: the brother shoots his sister when she is in the act of giving birth and buries her and the baby and then goes back to a family party. This is hard to sing.


08 Mar 09 - 06:43 PM (#2584182)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,murrbob

Two songs by Woody Guthrie that I guess could be called "industrial/labor" murders. Both invole the deaths of innocent small children, which has to give rise to the saddest songs of all!
    The first song commerates actions by the Colorado National Guard against striking mine workers -- The Ludlow Massacre.
    The second, that name of which I can't remember, took place in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan on Christmas Eve, when scabs blocked the meeting house door and yelled "Fire."


14 Mar 09 - 03:03 AM (#2588551)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: bseed(charleskratz)

That would be "The 1913 Massacre," murrbob. Definitely a sad one.

Here's a link to the lyrics, and Woody's recording of it.

Charles


14 Mar 09 - 07:09 AM (#2588616)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Andy Jackson

The Old Baby Farmer   Mrs Amelia Dyer
Couldn't find oin data base but confer with google.

I got the words from the singing of Dave Williams on A forest tracks record.


Andy


14 Mar 09 - 07:37 AM (#2588625)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: kendall

I can't stand to hear "Poor Elaine Smith" Too graphic, too inane and totally unbelievable.The Bluegrass pickers do this one, apparently the lyrics don't matter in Bluegrass.


14 Mar 09 - 07:43 AM (#2588627)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST

The one that had huge circulation in Ireland was The Old Oak Tree. Most of the older source singers had a version of it, Sarah Makem, Tom Lenihan, Mary Anne Carolan, Michael Flanagan, Brigid Tunney etc.
For me, one of the saddest and bloodiest. The images conjured up are stark!


14 Mar 09 - 07:45 AM (#2588629)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Jerry O'Reilly

Oops, thats me above by the way!


15 Mar 09 - 09:26 PM (#2589751)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: bseed(charleskratz)

This is the link to "The 1913 Massacre" that I forgot to include in my post of a day or so ago:

    http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=5743

Also, another song I don't think I've seen on the list but which is a real tearjerker:

"Haroo, Haroo" aka "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye."

Charles


25 Mar 09 - 12:46 AM (#2596703)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: JedMarum

This is the saddest true story I know, and put to song:

Mama's Lily


25 Mar 09 - 12:39 PM (#2597088)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: JedMarum

... not the best video, but hopefully it doesn't interfere with the music too much!


25 Mar 09 - 07:27 PM (#2597396)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: *Laura*

There are many that are very sad, but it's another vote for Sheath and Knife from me.


26 Mar 09 - 02:05 PM (#2597929)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Tim Leaning

The well below the valley
Awful story


26 Mar 09 - 06:59 PM (#2598165)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,CupOfTea, no cookies

My top vote would be Bonnie Susie Cleland - murdered by father and brother, by burning her at the stake over bigotry, all while she's being staunch and true and encouraging her beloved to find someone else.

> rates 3 hankies.

Others are creepier, more violent or have a higher body count... but for sad, this is my pick

Joanne In Cleveland


27 Mar 11 - 06:11 AM (#3122470)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Rog Peek

Goodman, Schwerner & Chaney by Tom Paxton.

"James Chaney, your body exploded in pain
And the beating they gave you is pounding my brain
For they murdered much more with their dark, bloody chains
And the body of pity lies bleeding."

Rog


27 Mar 11 - 11:34 AM (#3122657)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Stower

Without a doubt, for me, Lady Diamond. It took me months to learn to sing it. It wasn't the words I was having trouble with - it was holding steady while I sang it. Whew.


27 Mar 11 - 01:09 PM (#3122735)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle

But are we downhearted......?


27 Mar 11 - 01:51 PM (#3122769)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Elmore

Leather Glove by Carol Noonan


27 Mar 11 - 02:09 PM (#3122780)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: kendall

Lost Jimmy Whalen.
The ghost of a murdered lover comes to the lady for one last meeting before he leaves for the after life.

"Oh Jimmy why can't you tarry here with me
Not leave me alone so distracted in pain?
Since death is the dagger that cut us asunder,
Wide is the gulf love between you and I."

Not clear if he was murdered or not but, it is folk so he probably was.

Joan Sprung recorded this on Folk Legacy.

It's in the DT.


27 Mar 11 - 02:59 PM (#3122831)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: HipflaskAndy

I find these sad...
Bonnie Banks o' Fordie
Molly Bond

But as somone alluded to up above, I'm one that never got over the chilling effect of hearing and understanding Cruel Mother (Lady of York) for the first time.


27 Mar 11 - 04:00 PM (#3122867)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Paul Slade

Death of the Lawson Family takes some beating, detailing as it does the true case of a poor farmer in 1929 North Carolina who became mentally disturbed after a head injury. He waited till Christmas Day came around, and then killed his wife and six young children before shooting himself dead in a fit of remorse.

Townes van Zandt's Marie isn't a murder ballad, but it may just be the bleakest song ever written. The narrator loses his job and his home, then starts living rough with his girfriend under a bridge. He runs out of welfare payments, his last blood relative dies, then he's viciously beaten for a handful of change and discovers his girlfriend's pregnant. She dies in despair ("She just rolled over and went to heaven / With my little boy safe inside") and all he can do for her is to drag her out to the side of the highway and leave her there in the hope someone will discover her and his unborn son before a hungry animal gets them.

I read somewhere that Cole Porter wrote Miss Otis Regrets to draw some ironic attention to the lynchings then common in the American South. If it was rich white women getting lynched instead of poor black men, he wanted to say, then maybe we'd be making more fuss about it. Porter wasn't exactly known for his social conscience, mind, so maybe that's just a myth.

I have to agree with Miskin Man about Mrs Dyer the Old Baby Farmer too. The song itself - at least in the version I know - is a fairly jolly affair, full of the crowd's good-natured regret that they weren't allowed to burn her alive, but the true story behind it is a remarkably sad and squalid affair. I spent a couple of weeks immersed in Dyer's story for the piece I wrote about her balled here , and at the end of it I felt like taking my brain out and washing it in disinfectant. You'll find my essays about Hattie Carroll and many other murder ballads on the same site.


27 Mar 11 - 04:24 PM (#3122884)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: PHJim

Since you didn't specify Folk Ballads, how about Miss Otis Regrets?   

The mob came and got her and dragged her from the jail, Madame,
And strung her from that old oak tree along the trail.
And the moment before she died
She lifted up her lovely head and cried,
"Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today."

Amy Millan wrote a great song about the Black Donnelys which she used to perform when she played with Sixteen Tons, but I can't recall the title.


27 Mar 11 - 08:50 PM (#3123006)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: CET

Early in the thread, people mentioned Omie Wise and Tom Dooley, and for me these are the two that spring to mind first if the topic is songs that are sad, even if there are other events that are even more horrible.

For example:

"John Lewis, John Lewis I'm afraid of your ways
I'm afraid you will lead my poor body astray."

"Little Omie, little Omie, you guessed that about right
I've dug on your grave the best part of last night."

Those four lines put you right there on the banks of the river in North Carolina. Little Omie is going to die, you're going to see it happen, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

Tom Dooley, however much it's been done and overdone over the years, is still chilling:

"This time tomorrow, reckon where I'll be
If it hadn't been for Grayson, I'd have been in Tennessee."

According to the narrative of the song, of course, Tom Dooley did murder Laura Foster and so deserved what he got. However, there's some reason to believe he was wrongly convicted, and if you sing it with that in mind those lines are incredibly powerful.


27 Mar 11 - 09:51 PM (#3123027)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: PHJim

Johnny Cash's version of Delia's Gone was very blood-thirsty. He does show a bit of remorse in this verse, but...

First time I shot her I shot her in the side
Couldn't watch her suffer
But with the second shot she died
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone

Willie McTell's version tries to justify his actions:

Delia oh Delia, how could it be
You loved all those rounders Gal,
But you never really did love me
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone


28 Mar 11 - 08:24 AM (#3123276)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Desi


28 Mar 11 - 09:20 PM (#3123774)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Dad Perkins

saddest hell. what about the scariest?

My vote: the Daemon Lover aka House Carpenter.

narrative tropes include:

child abandonment
infidelity
cruise on a haunted ship
demon/ghost as lover
eternal damnation

it's a cinch.


31 Mar 11 - 12:57 AM (#3125315)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: PHJim

I love that Demon Lover song. I also love Michael Smith's Demon Lover:

I knew a girl who came from Little Falls
Her name was Agnes Hines
She fell in love with a boy named Jimmy Harris
But he had a short life-line
A year after Jimmy was killed in a car crash
She married a man from Cornell
They had three little kids and a big house
In upper Montclair

The gypsy wind it says to me
Things are not what they seem to be
Beware

One day her husband's at work and the kids are at school
And who comes toolin' up the drive
Looks just like Jimmy Harris
And he says he's just got back from Paris
And he's lookin' very much alive
Ooh, Jimmy she cried
I thought you had died
He laughed and he said So did I cherie
And if it was not for your love
I would not be here

The gypsy wind it says to me
Things are not what they seem to be
Beware

The neighbors say that as they pulled away in his Chevrolet
His face began to change
And in the middle of that bright suburban morning
They disappeared in flames
Maybe you have a demon lover
Who might have been your husband or your wife
Watch out for people who belong in your past
Don't let 'em back in your life.


27 Aug 16 - 12:48 PM (#3807086)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Robin Morton

I was searching the web for other versions of the Old Oak Tree, a murder ballad I collected from JOHN MAGUIRE in 1967?,(a great singer and man from Rosslea, Co. Fermanagh - - Check out his life story and songs collated by my privileged self. I can happily boast about it because I collated it in John's own words, and as I have already said he was a great singer and man. It has recently been republished by Routledge.

Anyway google came up with lots of versions including mention of the song in a thread asking for suggestions for the Saddest Murder Ballads and found mention of the song put forward for the crown by Guest,Chris B
on 16 Aug 2008 and noting that he had hears on Boys of the Lough, sung by Cathal McConnell. As a proud co-founder, with Cathal, of the BotL it was pleased. I was doubly pleased, as it was me who was the singer, to be mistaken for Cathal - I quite simply view him as one of the best ballad singers (along with the late John Maguire)that I have known.! I hope you enjoyed the rest of the album Chris.


27 Aug 16 - 04:25 PM (#3807113)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: The Sandman

"According to the narrative of the song, of course, Tom Dooley did murder Laura Foster and so deserved what he got. However, there's some reason to believe he was wrongly convicted, and if you sing it with that in mind those lines are incredibly powerful."
indeed, he was apparently not the murderer but an accessory after the fact


27 Aug 16 - 05:47 PM (#3807121)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,keberoxu

if you venture into sean-nós and Irish Gaelic, then there is a case for "Sail Óg Rua."

from the Joe Heaney archives, in his own words:
"The fellow who murdered his sixteen-year-old girlfriend. And lamented it the minute he's after doing it. When he saw her blood flowing, he composed the song. There's a lot of that happening in the Gaelic songs, you know. Lots of it."

"Now the Connemara way is like this. Now this is a story about a young girl, she was only sixteen, her lover killed her. And when he saw the blood, that's when he started writing....composing the song."

© Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh 2010 - 2011


28 Aug 16 - 04:55 AM (#3807160)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,Desi

For me it'd have to be Joe Hill


28 Aug 16 - 06:36 AM (#3807169)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Jim Carroll

"and so deserved what he got"
Depends on whether you support the barbaric practice of state induced murder, of course!!
"Sad" is an odd word - it certainly isn't the only emotion evoked by murder.

THE BALLAD OF SHARPEVILLE (1960)
Written by Ewan MacColl




From the Cape to Southwest Africa,
From the Transvaal to the sea,
In farm and village, shanty town,
The Pass Law holds the people down,
The pass of slavery, DOM PASS!
The pass of slavery.

The morning wind blows through the land,
It murmurs in the grass;
And every leaf of every tree
Whispers words of hope to me:
'This day will end the pass, DOM PASS!
This day will end the pass.'

The sun comes up on Sharpeville Town
And drives the night away;
The word is heard in every street:
'Against the Pass Law we will meet,
No-one will work today, DOM PASS!
No-one will work today.'

It was on the twenty-first of March,
The day of Sharpeville's shame;
Hour by hour the crowd did grow,
One voice that cried, 'The pass must go!'
It spoke in freedom's name, DOM PASS!
It spoke in freedom's name.

Outside the police headquarter's fence,
The Sharpeville people stand;
Inside the fence the white men pace,
Drunk with power and pride of race,
Each with a gun in hand, DOM PASS!
Each with a gun in hand.

         The Sharpeville crowd wait patiently,
They talk and laugh and sing;
At eleven-fifteen the tanks come down
Roll through the streets of Sharpeville town
To join the armoured ring, DOM PASS!
To join the armoured ring.

Neighbour talks to neighbour
And the kids play all around,
Until, without a warning word,
The sound of rifle fire is heard
And men fall to the ground, DOM PASS!
And men fall to the ground.

The panic-stricken people run
To flee the wild attack;
The police re-load and fire again
At running women, children, men,
And shoot them in the back, DOM PASS!
And shoot them in the back.

Sixty-seven Africans
Lay dead there on the ground;
Apartheid's harvest for a day,
Three times their number wounded lay,
Their blood stained all around, DOM PASS!
Their blood stained all around.

There's blood on the men who fired the guns,
On the men who made the laws;
There's blood on the hands of the Whitehall ranks
Who gave the thugs their guns and tanks,
Who help in oppression's cause, DOM PASS!
          Who help in oppression's cause.

Jim Carroll


28 Aug 16 - 09:43 AM (#3807187)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Mrrzy

Not a murder, but The Baggage Coach Ahead destroyed me.


28 Aug 16 - 11:24 AM (#3807207)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: Elmore

Not traditional. Not a murder. Killing in self defense. Plenty sad. "Leather Glove" by Carol Noonan.


28 Aug 16 - 03:22 PM (#3807240)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,George Henderson

Prince Heathen is about the saddest I can think of. Just listened to Frankie Armstrong singing it on You Tube.

I assume that she died after the trauma of being dragged through briars etc while tied to the tail of a horse and giving birth at the same time to a child born after a rape. The song does not confirm that though. Nor does it confirm that the child died either but surely neither could have survived.


29 Aug 16 - 03:14 AM (#3807309)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST

The saddest element here is the grammar employed in the title. Murdering people is one thing but murdering The Queen's English?


30 Aug 16 - 12:54 PM (#3807601)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,DeanofRochester

Can I throw in 'Have a Go Hero' from a few years ago by Queensbury Rules ? A truly haunting, beautiful and tragic true story ... I guess it may be adjudged a manslaughter ballad, if there is such a thing 😊


31 Aug 16 - 12:56 PM (#3807766)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: mkebenn

Pro'bly mentioned. Rose Conely/Willow Garden by anybody Mike


31 Aug 16 - 02:26 PM (#3807785)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST,HiLo

Not strictly speaking a murder ballad, but Clerk Sanders is very sad indeed. It is also a great story. I don't know if it has been mentioned but Miles Weatherhill and Sarah Bell by Nick Jones is a very sad one as well.
Interesting thread, thank you.


31 Aug 16 - 04:55 PM (#3807820)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: cetmst

Is The Griesly Bride a murder ballad?


31 Aug 16 - 05:25 PM (#3807827)
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
From: GUEST

The 'Twa Corbies' gets my vote as it's what we all must come to.
'Nae body kens, nae body cares,
O'er his white bones when they are bare
The wind sall blow for evermair...'