Cain

“Cain and Abel,” by Titian When I wrote last year about Jesus and the murder ballad, I thought I would finish that week by looking back to other Biblical stories that also provided symbols for music in this genre.  I now remember why I didn’t do it then.  There’s too … → read more

And his mama cries: In the Ghetto

Elvis Presley, 1970 In considering Chris Smither’s song “Every Mother’s Son” in preparation for this week’s first post, I kept being drawn to the contrast between it and Elvis Presley’s blockbuster “In the Ghetto.”  The two songs appeared within three or four years of each other, both being a little … → read more

Re-ragged in Red

Ladies in Red – Yenna Savil This is the third part of a three part series.  See also Part 1 and Part 2. IntroductionIn our first post this week, we looked at the historical event, the murder of Patrolman James Brady by Harry Duncan in 1890 St. Louis, that inspired the … → read more

Twinkle, twinkle, little star…

Notation of “Duncan and Brady” from Lomax and Lomax, Our Singing Country. This is the second part of a three part series.  See also Part 1 and Part 3. IntroductionIn my first post this week, I introduced the bad man ballad “Duncan and Brady” and explored the historical origin of the song.  We … → read more

“Duncan and Brady” / “Been on the Job Too Long”

The Fuller Court, 1894-1895  (from the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)  So what do these nine justices of the Supreme Court have to do with murder ballads?  Read on and find out! This is the first part of a three part series.  See also Part 2 and Part 3. … → read more