“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

“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

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

In the Pines: A Guide

On this blog, we often play detective. In fact, that’s pretty much all we do, and this post is no different, but I’m going to start by turning the tables. What, if anything, do you make of these fragments?: A woman being questioned. Pine trees. A long train. A decapitated … → read more

“Betty and Dupree” – A Digital Compendium, Part 1- “Dupree’s Diamond Blues”

Postcard showing Peachtree Street, Atlanta, ca. 1910  (postcard, public domain) Note: this is Part 1 of a two part series.  Read Part 2 here. Introduction – “Betty told Dupree…” What would you do for love?  Well, wait, that’s not quite it today.  It’s more like this.  How far would you … → read more

Pat’s Essential Eleven Non-Traditional Murder Ballads

Introduction A few weeks back I assembled a list of my ‘essential eleven’ traditional murder ballads.  While we here at Murder Ballad Monday usually delve deeply into one ballad or theme, we saw some possible value in a lighter ‘list-based’ approach from time to time.  Judging from reader response to … → read more

China Doll

Introduction It is, apparently, awfully hard to find a picture of a broken or cracked china doll online that doesn’t immediately bring one to the brink of depression.  The one above, though, inspires me.  I wish I could link you to more of the artist’s work. Despite the strange title … → read more

Let my guitar playing friend do my request

Jerry Garcia I first remember hearing Merle Haggard’s song “Sing Me Back Home,” which we introduced in the previous post, in a cover version performed by Richard Shindell. It’s possible I heard a taped Grateful Dead version before then, but Shindell’s is the first one I remember. Shindell added the … → read more

One little kiss, and Faleena goodbye

Bob Weir [This is the fourth post this week on Marty Robbins’s “El Paso.”  You can find the first one here, the second here, and the third here.]I’ve found over the course of doing my weeks at the blog that my interaction with a song usually takes one of two … → read more

Gun and pistol she commanded

(photo by K. Bigger) This is our second post on the ballad “Bold William Taylor.”  To read the first post, click here.When is a murder ballad not a murder ballad?The performance that brought “William Taylor” back to my attention (acknowledging that I had heard it before on Bill Jones’s Panchpuran) … → read more