The Ballad of Laura Foster

Not Laura Foster This is the fifth post in a series on “Tom Dooley” and related songs. The first post discusses some of the facts behind the story that inspired the song. The following three posts “Hang down your head, Tom Dooley,” “You can take down my old violin,” and … → read more

Poor boy, you’re bound to die

Neil Young This our fourth post so far on the familiar murder ballad “Tom Dooley.” –The first post discusses some of the history behind the song. –The second post discusses the history of the song itself, from regional to international popularity. –The third post picks out some performances from the … → 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

Postlude: Remembering Doc

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson (March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012) If there are patron saints for this blog, Doc Watson is one of them, at least for me.  With apologies to my dad, who was the acoustic guitar player with whom I was most familiar as a child, there was … → read more

Omie Wise

This week’s installment is a decidedly American contribution to the genre, and one not  completely shrouded in the mists of history, but only partly so. The events of “Omie Wise” can be pinned down to a known historical event—the drowning of Naomi Wise in Randolph County, North Carolina in 1808.  … → read more