About Patrick Blackman

daddy, teacher, blogger, amateur picker, singer, poet; co-founder of Murder Ballad Monday with roots in the upper south, happily transplanted to Vermont.

“Still Growing” / “The Trees They Do Grow High”

Introduction – “Still Growing” Today’s featured song fits clearly, if not neatly, into our wheelhouse here at MBM.  It is not precisely a murder ballad.  Neither is it exactly what we call a ‘conversation with death.’ It is, like many of the ballads we cover, old and rather widely dispersed … → read more

“Dearly Departed Friend”

Introduction – “Dearly Departed Friend” For the past five years, we here at MBM have managed to bring you a new post on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day 2017 is no exception. As with those posts, today’s featured song honors the men and women that fall in the service … → read more

“Little Black Train” and facing death through song

“Prepare to take a ride …” I‘m just shy of fifty years old. My father died at ninety-one a month ago, and my older brother, tragically, three months before that. My mother passed less than two years ago, just a year or so after my parents moved in with us. … → read more

“Victim or the Crime”

Introduction – “Victim or the Crime” It is human to feel like a victim when suffering arrives.  Traditional ballads almost always place such emotion within a dualistic worldview.  There is good and evil – and a clear, if thin, line between.  Today, though, we tend to see such things in … → read more

Murder Ballad Comedy, Part 5: “Marrow Bones”

“There was an old woman from Wexford…” Almost two years ago, Ken initiated an occasional series for our strange little blog wherein we explored the intersection of murder and comedy in ballads. Between his posts, mine, and Becky’s, we explored mainly 20th century examples of the phenomenon. However, at times … → read more

Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm / Galveston Flood

“It was the year of 1900…” – The Galveston Flood Disaster songs don’t inhabit the same space as murder ballads, but at MBM we find that they intersect in some profound ways with our genre of choice.  Recently we spent a couple of weeks exploring our own and our readers’ curated … → read more

“Don’t murder me …” – Dire Wolf

“In the Timbers of Fennario…” Today’s murder ballad dances merrily along borderlines with which we’ve become familiar in this blog; boundaries between celebration and fear, civilization and savagery, traditional and post-modern balladry – and of course that inscrutable passage between life and death.  “Dire Wolf” is an unabashedly happy song in … → 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

The Cruel Ship’s Captain / The Captain’s Apprentice

Introduction – “The Cruel Ship’s Captain” Today’s ballad is notable both for its brevity and for the depravity it depicts.  The brevity is mostly a product of the Anglophone seamen and laborers who worked the song over time to a fine edge like a blade on a whetstone.  The depravity derives from the combination of human … → read more