“Gambler’s Blues” (Unfortunate Rake, Part Two)

This post on “Gambler’s Blues”/”St. James Infirmary” is the second installment on variants of the “Unfortunate Rake” ballads. The first installment was on an older, British “Rake” ballad, called “Pills of White Mercury,” in which the narrator comes across a military comrade wrapped in white linen and dying. Mercury was a … → read more

Poor boy, you’re bound to die

Neil Young This our fourth post so far on the familiar murder ballad “Tom Dooley.” –The first post discusses some of the history behind the song. –The second post discusses the history of the song itself, from regional to international popularity. –The third post picks out some performances from the … → read more

Frankie was a good woman

Glenna Bell For my final installment on “Frankie and Johnny,” I want to pick out two versions that, while not necessarily representing the kind of girl anthem (sardonic or otherwise) of Judy Henske’s “Love Henry,” still present a woman’s voice taking over the song in some new ways.  It’s in … → read more