How Legends Are Made: Stan Rogers, “The Flowers of Bermuda,” and Air Canada Flight 797

Written in the spring of 1978 by the Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers, “The Flowers of Bermuda” is a disaster ballad on a small scale, telling the story of a ship that founders with nineteen people aboard. We’ve looked at shipwreck songs before at Murder Ballad Monday, especially in this post from … → read more

“Blue Wing” and the Legend of Little Willie John

"Blue Wing," original art by Tom Russell (used by permission)

Prelude On the road for work a few months ago, I was driving between Cheyenne and Denver. I had a chance to meet up with an old friend for coffee on the way. Early in our conversation, I noticed she had some new ink on her left forearm, a cluster of … → read more

Podcast: On the Sea and Shore
Episode #16-26 | airing 6-29-16

Mystic Seaport recently held it’s Sea Music Festival. It would seem to be a good time to listen to some music from the sea and shore. On this week’s program we’ll hear music from Cyril Tawney, Debra Cowan, Cindy Kallet & Gray Larsen, Stan Rogers and many more. Let’s go … → read more

Disaster Songs — Readers Recommend

"Flood Disaster (Homecoming - Kaw Valley)," 1951, by Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)

We invited our readers via Facebook last week to submit some of the disaster songs they find most moving. Through those, and through some suggestions we got from others directly, we received some great suggestions. In an unusual turn for us, therefore, we’ll turn it over to the readers, and … → 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

Deckhands and Shipwrecks, Poetry and Tragedy

Disaster and Tragedy Among the small number of conversations among friends that initially inspired this blog back in 2011/2012 was a discussion about a shipwreck. It was about the RMS Titanic specifically, and why the disaster of its sinking led to so much music and art, both at the time and subsequently, when disasters … → read more

Podcast: Ballads, Old and New
Episode #15-42 | airing 10-15-15

This week on The Sing Out! Radio Magazine we begin a two part feature Ballads Ancient & New. We’ll listen to ballads in many different settings and styles. Narrative songs have always been an important part of folk music whether humorous, serious or amorous we’ll hear all three distinct styles … → read more

Podcast: In The Fam
Episode #15-40 | airing 9-30-15

There is a long standing tradition of family performers in folk music. Many of the classic old-time country bands such as the Carter Family were comprised of family members. Many traditional musicians learned by osmosis through attending dances and being lulled to sleep on a stack of coats or the … → read more

Podcast: Send the Band Home early
Episode #15-37 | airing 9-09-15

Sheila Kay Adams

The purity of the unaccompanied human voice is one of the most beautiful sounds. Songs sung without accompaniment or a capella have a long history in folk music. You don’t need an instrument to make beautiful music whether you’re working on the farm, marching to battle or just passing time … → read more

Three Fishers

Today is Labor Day in the U.S. and Canada. Our song this week is not a murder ballad proper, but I felt drawn to write about it because it portrays the sacrifices and risks of working. Just as my friend, Maureen, mentioned a few years ago how “El Paso” helped her as a child … → read more