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

Two Soldiers

The Veteran in a New Field – Winslow Homer, 1865 I mentioned in my last week of posts that I’m preparing to take my 8th grade students to Gettysburg, and that all things Civil War occupy my mind this time of year.  The trip is quite an undertaking and I’m … → read more

The thought that pulls the trigger

As I mentioned in my first post, there’s no small controversy over what, exactly, “Powderfinger” is about. Aided by the abundance of specific details in the lyrics, especially about that boat, almost all interpretations nod to Young’s political sensibilities in some way. That is, they identify the young man as … → read more

The Natural and the Unnatural, Naturally

Study for “There Were Three Maidens Pu’d Flower” by Charles H. Mackie Death Before Dishonor?The themes in “Babylon” pointed me back to reviewing Pat’s excellent series of posts on “Edward,” (Child 13), particularly this one, which is a careful, reluctant, and thorough exploration of the incest theme in that ballad. … → read more

51st Annual Philly Folk Fest Announcement

51st Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival August 17-19, 2012 Upper Salford Township (near Schwenksville), PA PHILADELPHIA – It’s hard to imagine the summer without the PHILADELPHIA FOLK FESTIVAL. This beloved event is the longest continuously-running outdoor musical festival of its kind in North America and will celebrate its 51st Anniversary on … → 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


“The Bonnie Banks O’Fordie,” by Charles Hodge Mackie (1892) Fair Flowers of the Valley While it’s not exactly our intention to ring the changes on the varieties of family-based murder ballads, we’ll turn this week to Child Ballad 14, “Babylon” or “The Bonnie Banks of Fordie,”  in its various iterations … → read more