“The tear blindit his ee” – The story of “Sir Patrick Spens”

The ballad “Sir Patrick Spens” is one of the oldest ballads in western Europe. It tells the story of a king who seeks the best and most experienced sailor in his kingdom for a dangerous and certainly life threatening journey. An unknown knight within the king’s company shouts out the … → read more

The King, the Queen, her lover and his death: The Bonnie Earl of Moray.

Donibristle House site of Donibristle Castle There is very little left of the original Donibristle Castle, the site of the brutal murder of James Stewart, the 2nd Earl of Moray. There was a major program of rebuilding, and Donibristle House was built on the site of the castle in 1700. … → read more

A Cage of Beaten Gold – “False Sir John”

Golden Cage 4 - acrylics on canvas. 2008 by Fareha Zeba

This is the second post concerning the ballad Child 4.  See also Part 1. Introduction In my first post this week, I looked briefly at the history of the ballad Francis Child cataloged as his #4, known by many names; “Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight”, “False Sir John”, “May … → read more

Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight / False Sir John / May Colvin / The Outlandish Knight

This is the first post concerning the ballad Child 4.  See also Part 2. Introduction I love this image; it’s so evocative!  What secret does this young gentle lady want her pretty parrot to keep? Well, you know the title of this blog – so it’s not hard to guess. … → read more

Eileen Interview, Part One

Becky Poole (photo by Logan Futej) Here is Part One of our interview with the Chicago-based duo, Eileen.  Today, we meet the duo and dive more deeply into the song “I’ll Lay You Down,” which we introduced in the previous post.MBM:  Who is Eileen?  How did you come together? Christine … → read more

“He’s dressed himself in silk so rare.”

Tim Eriksen – from his Facebook fan page Our initial post this week took up the first of our two goals; to look more closely at Tim Eriksen‘s work and place it in the context of how we experience murder ballads at their most powerful.  In checking out two new … → read more

“Tim Eriksen – Sowing a Silken Seam”

Tim Eriksen – hardcore americana This week at Murder Ballad Monday will be a mix of celebration and reflection, with a bit of correction thrown in for balance.Celebration? Quite simply, we’re still here and still finding plenty to write about even after eleven months of weekly blogging on a rather rarefied topic. And … → read more

But don’t you let it take you over

[This is the fourth post this week on Child ballad 243, “The Demon Lover” or “House Carpenter.”  Read the first one here, the second one here, and the third one here.] Our last post took a look at one of the descendants of Child 243, “The Demon Lover” or “House Carpenter,” and … → read more

Some are carpenters’ wives

[This is the third post on Child ballad 243, “The Demon Lover” or “House Carpenter.”  Read the first one here, and the second one here.] “James Harris,” the demon figure in Child 243, does not represent just any potential lover leading the carpenter’s wife away, but a lover from her … → read more

Who Weeps for the House Carpenter?

This is the second post on Child 243.  Read the first post here. The short answer is “nobody.”  Nobody weeps for the house carpenter.  In our last post, we saw how artists through the years molded and shaped the original song that is now “The Demon Lover” and “House Carpenter.” … → read more