About Patrick Blackman

daddy, teacher, blogger, amateur picker, singer, poet; co-founder of Murder Ballad Monday with roots in the upper south, happily transplanted to Vermont.

“Victim or the Crime”

Introduction – “Victim or the Crime” It is human to feel like a victim when suffering arrives.  Traditional ballads almost always place such emotion within a dualistic worldview.  There is good and evil – and a clear, if thin, line between.  Today, though, we tend to see such things in … → read more

Murder Ballad Comedy, Part 5: “Marrow Bones”

“There was an old woman from Wexford…” Almost two years ago, Ken initiated an occasional series for our strange little blog wherein we explored the intersection of murder and comedy in ballads. Between his posts, mine, and Becky’s, we explored mainly 20th century examples of the phenomenon. However, at times … → read more

Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm / Galveston Flood

“It was the year of 1900…” – The Galveston Flood Disaster songs don’t inhabit the same space as murder ballads, but at MBM we find that they intersect in some profound ways with our genre of choice.  Recently we spent a couple of weeks exploring our own and our readers’ curated … → read more

“Don’t murder me …” – Dire Wolf

“In the Timbers of Fennario…” Today’s murder ballad dances merrily along borderlines with which we’ve become familiar in this blog; boundaries between celebration and fear, civilization and savagery, traditional and post-modern balladry – and of course that inscrutable passage between life and death.  “Dire Wolf” is an unabashedly happy song in … → read more

“With a Memory Like Mine”

For the fifth time, we at Murder Ballad Monday find ourselves with something musical to share on Memorial Day.  Songs of war don’t always get us to the same place as do those in our genre of choice, but sometimes they get us there and back as well as any … → read more

Disaster songs, and such – Part 1

In the Murder Ballad Monday board room over the last several months, conversations about the sinking of the Titanic resulted directly in two things.  First, we’ve started a playlist on the topic and we’re planning to curate it in a future post concerning music made about the day that great ship went … → read more

The Cruel Ship’s Captain / The Captain’s Apprentice

Introduction – “The Cruel Ship’s Captain” Today’s ballad is notable both for its brevity and for the depravity it depicts.  The brevity is mostly a product of the Anglophone seamen and laborers who worked the song over time to a fine edge like a blade on a whetstone.  The depravity derives from the combination of human … → read more

“The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake” – Conversations with Death – 6

Our darling wandered far away… I had an odd reaction to that recent video of the rescue of a toddler running alone down the middle of a busy Highway 101 in Oregon.  A old, favorite song popped into my head instantly – “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”  It won’t … → read more

The Truth to You I’ll Tell – “Little Glass of Wine”

Introduction – “Come little girl…” A couple of years back, I blogged over two weeks about what I called my “Essential Eleven Traditional Murder Ballads” and my “Essential Eleven Non-Traditional Murder Ballads.”  I cataloged a variety of tunes and performances that I found particularly moving, only some of which we’d … → read more

Angels laid him away – “Louis Collins” and a folk bloodbath

“Mrs. Collins weep, Mrs. Collins moan …” Aficionados might argue the point, but it’s reasonable to claim that “Louis Collins” is one of Mississippi John Hurt’s best original songs.  It is easier still to call it the best of all the murder and bad man ballads in his repertoire.  One can also … → read more