“The Butcher Boy” / “The Railroad Boy”

Introduction: “It’s the butcher boy I love so well …” The title of today’s song suggests a narrative consistent with the stereotype of violent misogyny in our genre of choice.  Strictly speaking, this time that could lead to some inaccurate assumptions.  The boy in question is simply the son of … → read more

Keepers of the garden – Crazy Man Michael, pt. 2

Natalie Merchant “I kept on positing that [folk music] is any music that serves the people and describes the culture” Natalie Merchant on NPR’s American Routes, November 7, 2003 Introduction I wrote in the previous post on “Crazy Man Michael” that there seem to be two prevalent ways of interpreting … → 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

Diver Boy / Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low / Young Emily

Excerpt from a broadside from Durham, England ca. 1860 – National Library of Scotland Here at Murder Ballad Monday we hope every week to achieve two equally important goals; we strive to curate the best possible musical selection around a chosen song and we try to give you something to think … → read more