While the Whole World Sings

“Like there’s nothing going wrong” I first heard Hurray for the Riff Raff’s “The Body Electric” through a National Public Radio article by Ann Powers last month: “The Political Folk Song of the Year.”  I appear to be rather late to the game on this song. If you’ve spent any … → read more

Shot through the Heart – Poor Ellen Smith, pt. 3

Frank Fairfield This is the third of three posts on the North Carolina murder ballad “Poor Ellen Smith.” Read the first here and the second here. One of the implicit questions in the previous two posts is whether the real story behind the murder ballad “Poor Ellen Smith” affects how … → read more

Mining a Mystery–Poor Ellen Smith, pt. 2

Aoife O’Donovan This is the second in a series of posts on “Poor Ellen Smith.” Read the first one here. Our posts here at Murder Ballad Monday are just a few small additions to the numerous reviews, ruminations on, and histories of “Poor Ellen Smith.” In all of the sources … → read more

Poor Ellen Smith

Neko Case Ellen Smith was shot through the heart in July of 1892. Peter DeGraff had been romantically involved with Smith. He stood trial for her murder, was convicted, and was executed for it thirteen months after Smith’s death. At least two songs about this terrible, yet all too typical … → read more

The red bells beckon you to ride

In between “Furnace Room Lullaby” and “Deep Red Bells,” Neko Case released her second original murder ballad, “Make Your Bed.” The song appeared on Canadian Amp, an EP featuringa few covers, one traditional folk song, and two originals.  “Make Your Bed” is a fine murder ballad – not a masterpiece, … → read more