“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

Pat’s Essential Eleven Traditional Murder Ballads

Introduction We here at Murder Ballad Monday are soon fixing to close our second year of writing about our topic of choice!  Don’t worry; we have a few more weeks to go before we get to our holiday hiatus, and we’re planning a Year Three.  But I’ve been reflecting on … → read more

“The Cumberland and the Merrimac”

The Sinking of the “Cumberland” by the Ironclad “Merrimac“, off Newport News Va. March 8th 1862 – Currier and Ives, 1862 Introduction This week we return once again to the American Civil War for some music that might make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.  Any … → read more

“The Southern Girl’s Reply”

Unidentified girl in mourning dress holding framed photograph of her father as a cavalryman with sword and Hardee hat – tintype, ca. 1870, Library of Congress IntroductionEvery spring I teach a unit on the American Civil War, after which my colleagues and I take our 8th graders to spend three days exploring the … → 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

Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam…

Found Drowned – George Frederick Watts, 1867 All right folks.  I promised after five separate posts over six months concerning the ballad “Two Sisters” (aka Child 10, aka Roud 8, aka…) that this time I’d have something meaningful to say about it. Let me link first to the other posts … → read more

I wish the wars were all over…

Before the Battle aka Lady Affixing a Pennant to a Knight’s Spear – Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, 1858 We started this week on Memorial Day with a great ballad from the Civil War that works in some ways like a murder ballad; “Two Soldiers” aka “The Last Fierce Charge”.  I’ll not … → read more


Another year has come and gone. I’m beginning to set my calendar to coincide with the Old Songs Festival. The event has become my annual booster shot that reminds of why “folk” music is so important – the festival displays the music and the artists while informing us of where … → read more