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

Little Sadie – Old Time, Bluegrass, and Beyond

Clarence "Tom" Ashley - ca. early 1960's

Note: This is Part 3 of a three part series on “Little Sadie” – See also Part 1 and Part 2 Introduction I went out one night for to make a little round I met Little Sadie and I shot her down Went back home, got into bed Forty-four smokeless … → read more

You can take down my old violin

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson This is our third post this week on “Tom Dooley.” You can read the first here and the second here. Introduction My heart sank just a little after reading in John Edward Fletcher’s book about the Dula case that Doc Watson told a story of Grayson … → read more

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley

G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter [This is the second post this week on “Tom Dooley.” The first post gives the basics of the underlying story.] Hardly a fiddler or a banjo picker in our county… “I’ll tell you all Verlee and I can remember about Tom Dula…. Laura Foster was a cousin … → read more

The price, my dear, is you.

  In the last post on Led Zeppelin’s “Gallows Pole,” we looked at how a centuries-old English tale about a fair maiden who loses a golden ball evolved into two different stories – one with a fairy tale ending in which the maiden is rescued by a prince and one with … → read more