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

A Warning Take by Me

This is the second post on “Maria Marten” and other songs inspired by the Red Barn Murder in Polstead, England in 1827. The first is here. The third is here. It is time for my confession.  Don’t worry. It’s nowhere near as exciting as William Corder’s. As I’ve been working through “Maria … → 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

The Underbelly of Myth

Thereby Hangs a (Folk) Tale In the last post, I suggested that there seemed to be a certain implausible, or perhaps contrived, quality, to the narrative of   “Babylon,” “The Bonnie Banks o’ Fordie,” or “Fair Flowers of the Valley,” (Child 14).  Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that it … → read more

It’s all about a little holly bush…

Note: This is Part 2 of a 4 part series – see also Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4 We saw in the introductory post for the week that in the murder ballad “Edward“, or Child 13, at least as sung in America and Ireland the murder is sparked … → read more

April, May (Margaret), and June

River Clyde, near Abington Drawn into the Clyde Water My introduction to “Drowned Lovers” began with hearing a spare bit of guitar playing, opening up with regular, almost transmitter-like pulses as the tenth track on Kate Rusby‘s solo debut album, Hourglass, (1997).  The earlier part of the album had been … → read more

Mother’s Malison/Clyde Water/Drowned Lovers

The River Clyde “Mother’s Malison” (Child 216) If the first song discussed in this blog was about the potentially dire consequences of following the counsel of one’s parents instead of the counsel of one’s heart, this week we’ll show just how dangerous the opposite course can be.  This week we’ll take … → read more

God Make You Safe and Free

Romeo and Juliet – Sir Frank Dicksee, 1884 Note: This is Part 3 of a three part series.  See also Part 1 and Part 2. Introduction What is it about this week’s song, “Matty Groves”, that attracts us so?  (If you’re not familiar with the ballad, check out the introductory post … → read more