Ain’t gonna tell you no lies

    “As our American culture advances, it may be that classes will take up the Frankie songs as seriously as a play by Molière or a Restoration comedy or the Provençal ballads of France….While the Frankie story deals with crime, violence, murder, adultery, its percentage in these respects is … → read more

Ain’t gonna tell you no stories

We’ll start today’s posts with some news accounts, to begin thinking about whether and how the facts matter to the song, and how the facts leave their traces, often in indirect ways, in the songs.  For the moment at least, we’ll proceed on the assumption that “Frankie…” tells the story … → read more

Details for Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration in Tulsa announced

The LA-based GRAMMY Museum, in conjunction with Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. and the Woody Guthrie Archives, has announced details about their plans to commemorate the life and career of Oklahoma folk music legend Woody Guthrie in Tulsa. Designed to celebrate Guthrie’s extraordinary body of work and impact on American music, … → read more

Frankie and Albert

The Frankie and Johnny mural in the House Lounge at the Missouri State Capitol “Frankie and Johnny” or “Frankie and Albert” is the most popular and commercially successful murder ballad.  I can’t think of a song that really comes remotely close.  “Frankie,” “Frankie and Albert,” “Frankie and Johnny,” and a … → read more

Bow and Balance to Me

Ok, let’s bring this one on home. In the introductory post for the week, we learned that Child 10, the ballad commonly known as “Two Sisters“, is in fact quite old, with Scandinavian roots stretching back perhaps a thousand years.  We saw great diversity among the versions we listened to, … → read more

I’ll be true unto my love…

When I was linking the lyrics for Clannad’s version of “Two Sisters” for this week’s main post, I was stumped when I saw the refrain on several sites listed as “the boys are born for me”.  I’d always heard it as “the boys are bound for me”.  So I asked … → read more

Two Sisters / Wind and Rain

“Girl by Stream” Charles Van Shaick ca. 1880 This week finds us in new waters – sibling rivalry. Ok, ok, I know.  One thing to love about murder ballads is that we can’t dismiss the violence with simple explanations or psychobabble.  These songs are just too good for that.  They … → read more

Young Hunting (Henry Lee, Love Henry)

This week’s installment focuses on another American contribution to the genre, in the sense that “Henry Lee,” or “Love Henry,” is an Americanized take on an old ballad called “Young Hunting” (Child Ballad No. 68).     The ballad tells the tale of a man, Young Hunting, who, returning to … → read more