Far too many of you dying: ‘What’s Going On’

Cover image for 'What's Going On' (Motown Records)

“Local draft board No. 4 in a district surrounding State and 35th streets, containing 30,000 persons, of whom 90 per cent are colored, registered upward of 9,000 and sent 1,850 colored men to cantonments. Of these 1,850 there were only 125 rejections. On Nov. 11, when the armistice was declared, … → 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. Introduction In my first post this week, I introduced the bad man ballad “Duncan and Brady” and explored the historical origin of the song.  We saw, based on extensive scholarship, that the murder of patrolman James … → read more

The Demon Lover (The House Carpenter)

This is the first of four posts on Child Ballad 243. The next three installments can be found here, here, and here. Well Met, Well Met What lengths will a singer go to in changing the song’s “facts” to keep closer to the song’s “truth”?  While I generally believe that … → read more

Ain’t gonna tell you no lies

    “As our American culture advances, it may be that classes will take up the Frankie songs as seriously as a play by Molière or a Restoration comedy or the Provençal ballads of France….While the Frankie story deals with crime, violence, murder, adultery, its percentage in these respects is … → read more