I got to thinking recently about songs about baddies and crime. There are some absolute gems out there.
What got me started on this train of thought was listening to Johnny Cash singing The Beast In Me:
From childhood I absolutely loved Lorne Greene's Ringo:
Nick Drake seems to have built his career on them! Possibly my favorite is a duet with P J Harvey, Henry Lee:
I know that this is only the tip of a very large iceberg!
I would love to hear about other peoples favorites
one song that comes immediately to mind is Steve Earle's great saga "Tom Ames Prayer"
this is also covered very well by Robert Earl Keen
And, as i'm typing this, another of Steve Earle's tunes comes to mind ... "Billy Austin"
For a modern day Bonnie and Clyde song, check out Fred Eaglesmith's
" Pontiac" ... a damn fine song!
Catherine Britt has a fine murder ballad on her new album "Always Never Enough" called "Sally Bones".
Catherine Britt deserves at least the same recognition that her contemporary and buddy Kasey Chambers has achieved.
Do yourself a favour and check her out : www.catherinebritt.com
The Cosmic Cowboy Cafe
2RRR Sydney, Australia
...Not sure how in the hell I have never heard of Catherine before having read your post but I'm sure glad you brought her to my attention and I thank you.
I really like her sound and its easy to see how she and Kasey would be friends.
Sally Bones is one vengeful chick, and with good cause!
once again, thanks for the heads up and I am on the case of adding all of her available material to my library.
since your link was "chopped" in your post, here is a link directly to Catherine singing "Sally Bones"
note and an aside: that fact that the character, Sally Bones, is from Alice Springs put me in mind of a good Australian film " Alice to Nowhere" , a good flick set in a most desolate area , if anyone is interested in watching it.
Great clip, thanks WEB
woops, trying to leave a reply for Eddie, but for some reason it keeps linking to your post!
Long Black Veil by Marijohn Wilken. "I spoke not a word, though it meant my life, for I had been in the arms of my best friends wife."
Are we talking true crimes or fictional crimes?
One of my favorite true crime songs would be "Don't Take My Guns Away" by the Elvis Brothers, about Bernhard Goetz.
For fictional crime, I'll have to go with Steve Earle's "Billy and Bonnie."
I'm sure there are a lot more I just can't think of right now.
Hadn't really separated fictional and non fictional, sometimes hard to know. I hadn't heard the Elvis Brothers track, a great song, thanks
Tip of a large Iceberg? Outside of love songs, this might be the most popular topic for songwriters. Here are a few of my faves off the top of my head.
El Paso - Marty Robbins
Mack the Knife - Bobby Darin
32-20 Blues - Robert Johnson
Claudine - The Rolling Stones
Hurricane - Bob Dylan
Lorca's Novena - the Pogues
Killing an Arab - The Cure
I'm Waiting for the Man - The Velvet Underground
Down in the Tube Station at Midnight - The Jam
Crime & Punishment: Bloody Ballads, Prison Monas & Chain Gang Blues.
Kris Needs of ZigZag has just put together a CD compilation on exactly this theme. The 50 tracks include Frank Hutchison’s Stackalee, Mississippi John Hurt’s Frankie, The Louvin Brothers’ Knoxville Girl and The New Lost City Ramblers’ Tom Dooley. Not to mention The Murder of the Lawson Family by The Carolina Buddies, Duncan & Brady by Dave Van Ronk and Down on the Banks of the Ohio by The Blue Sky Boys.
Win a free copy here: http://www.planetslade.com/contact2.html. Competition closes August 31.
Thanks Paul, just spent a fascinating hour or so on your website! Really enjoying your writing on all manner of topics, and love the depth you go into on the murder ballads.