Frank ‘Honeyboy’ Patt
Bloodstains On The Wall

Stanley Brothers
Little Glass Of Wine

Carter Family
Young Freda Bolt

The body of Freeda Bolt, 18, of near Willis, Floyd County, who disappeared last Thursday night, was found at ten o'clock last night on Bent Mountain, eighteen miles south of Roanoke.

Tom Waits
Georgia Lee
[Backstory] [News]

“Georgia Lee” tells the story of Georgia Lee Moses, a 12 year old girl from Petaluma, California. Georgia had dropped out of school to take care of her mother, Ida, who was developmentally challenged, as well as her 7 year old sister.

Big Bill Broonsy
Frankie And Johnny

"Frankie and Johnny" (sometimes spelled "Frankie and Johnnie"; also known as "Frankie and Albert" or just "Frankie") is a traditional American popular song. It tells the story of a woman, Frankie, who finds that her man Johnny was making love to another woman and shoots him dead. Frankie is then arrested; in some versions of the song she is also executed.

Skip James
Crow Jane

It’s hard to trace the exact source of “Crow Jane”, but it’s a song that has outlasted many others from the early days of the blues. Its roots lay in the Piedmont region of Virginia and North and South Carolina. Rev. Gary Davis was known to perform it during the 1920’s, and the first recording was made in 1927 by guitarist Julius Daniels. Daniels is important partly because he was one of the first Black guitarists to record in the Southeast, inspiring others to follow.

Blind Willie McTell
[Wiki] [History]

According to contemporaneous reports published in Georgia newspapers, Delia Green was shot and killed by 15-year-old Mose (or Moses) Houston late on Christmas Day, 1900, in the Yamacraw neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia, after an argument earlier in the evening. Houston, the newspapers implied, had been involved in a sexual relationship with Green for several months. The shooting took place at the home of Willie West, who chased down Houston after the shooting and turned him over to the city police.

Delta Rae
Bottom Of The River

Mississippi John Hurt
Louis Collins

Hurt said, when asked about this sweet murder ballad, that he "made it up from hearing people talk. He was a great man, I know that, and he was killed by two men named Bob and Louis. I got enough of the story to write me a song."

A'nt Idy Harper & The Coon Creek Girls
Poor Naomi Wise
[Wiki] [History]

Omie Wise or Naomi Wise (1789–1808) was an American murder victim, who is remembered by a popular murder ballad about her death.

Tom Lehrer
The Irish Ballad

Earl Johnson
The Little Grave In Georgia

Henry Thomas
Bob McKinney

Lead Belly
John Hardy
[Wiki] [History]

"John Hardy" is a traditional American folk song based on the life of a railroad worker in West Virginia. The historical John Hardy killed a man during a craps game, was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and was hanged on January 19, 1894.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night

"Where Did You Sleep Last Night", also known as "Black Girl" and "In the Pines", is a traditional American folk song which dates back to at least the 1870s, and is believed to be Southern Appalachian in origin. The identity of the song's author is unknown, but it has been recorded by many artists in numerous genres.

Dock Boggs
Pretty Polly
[Wiki] [History]

"Pretty Polly", "The Gosport Tragedy" or "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter" (Laws P36, Roud 15) is a traditional English-language folk song found in the British Isles, Canada, and the Appalachian region of North America, among other places.[1] The song is a murder ballad, telling of a young woman lured into the forest where she is killed and buried in a shallow grave. Many variants of the story have the villain as a ship's carpenter who promises to marry Polly but murders her when she becomes pregnant. When he goes back to sea, he is haunted by her ghost, confesses to the murder, goes mad and dies.

Ralph Stanley
Little Mathie Grove
[Ballad] [Wiki]

"Matty Groves" is an English folk ballad that describes an adulterous tryst between a man and a woman that is ended when the woman's husband discovers and kills them. It dates to at least the 17th century, and is one of the Child Ballads collected by 19th-century American scholar Francis James Child. It has several variant names, including "Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard."

Fairport Convention
Matty Groves

Dillard Chandler
Rain and Snow

This song is strangely absent from the folk tradition. Sharp gives one verse (No 116) and Alan Lomax in Folksong USA gives a version called "Sporting Bachelors·.···. In the note section of Sharp, No 116, "Rain and Snow" does not appear; Lomax also says nothing about the song. The more oomplete text, which Dillard sings, is not in print; it is only on records.

Dock Boggs
Sugar Baby

Sugar Baby or Red Rocking Chair is a widespread folk song, found in the repertoire of a lot banjo players in the South, and still very popular today with old-time and folk musicians.

(This is probably a flub on my part. My first listen to this I got the impression of a sorry fate for the wife in this song, but on further listening and reading that doesn't seem to be traditional. Though it probably works following "Rain and Snow".)

Jimi Hendrix
Hey Joe

Louvin Brothers
Knoxville Girl

"The Knoxville Girl" is an Appalachian murder ballad. It is derived from the 19th-century Irish ballad The Wexford Girl, itself derived from the earlier English ballad "The Oxford Girl". Other versions are known as the "Waxweed Girl", "The Wexford Murder". These are in turn derived from Elizabethan era poem or broadside ballad, "The Cruel Miller".

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Henry Lee

Young Hunting" is a traditional folk song, Roud 47, catalogued by Francis James Child as Child Ballad number 68, and has its origin in Scotland. Like most traditional songs, numerous variants of the song exist worldwide, notably under the title of "Henry Lee" and "Love Henry" in the United States and "Earl Richard" and sometimes "The Proud Girl" in the United Kingdom.

Clarence Ashley
Little Sadie

"Little Sadie" is a 20th-century American folk ballad in D Dorian mode. It is also known variously as "Bad Lee Brown", "Cocaine Blues", "Transfusion Blues", "East St. Louis Blues", "Late One Night", "Penitentiary Blues" and other titles. It tells the story of a man who is apprehended after shooting his wife/girlfriend. He is then sentenced by a judge.

Violent Femmes
Country Death Song

Berzilla Wallin
Conversation With Death
[Broadside] [Broadside] [History] [Wiki]

Country blues banjo player Moran Lee "Dock" Boggs (1898-1971) recorded the song in the late 1920s. A recording from the 1938 National Folk Festival held in Washington, D.C. is on file with the Library of Congress. Various folk music artists included Oh, Death on a variety of musical collections throughout the 1970s and '80s. Indiana University Press' The Journal of Folklore Research features articles in an 2004 issue asserting that "O, Death" is Lloyd Chandler's song "A Conversation with Death", which he performed for several years while preaching in Appalachia.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The Mercy Seat

Bessie Smith
Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair

Eric Bibb
Death Row Blues

Johnny Cash
25 Minutes To Go

"25 Minutes to Go" is a song by Shel Silverstein, from his 1962 album Inside Folk Songs.

Lead Belly
Gallis Pole
[Ballad] [Wiki]

"The Maid Freed from the Gallows" is one of many titles of a centuries-old folk song about a condemned maiden pleading for someone to buy her freedom from the executioner. In the collection of ballads compiled by Francis James Child in the late 19th century, it is indexed as Child Ballad number 95; 11 variants, some fragmentary, are indexed as 95A to 95K.

Lefty Frizzell
Long Black Veil

"Long Black Veil" is a 1959 country ballad, written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell. A saga song, "Long Black Veil" is told from the point of view of an executed man falsely accused of murder. He refuses to provide an alibi, since on the night of the murder he was having an affair with his best friend's wife, and would rather die and take their secret to his grave than admit the truth. The chorus describes the woman's mourning visits to his gravesite, wearing a long black veil and enduring a wailing wind.

Fairport Convention
Poor Will & The Jolly Hangman

Elvis Costello
Let Him Dangle
[Wiki] [Interview]

This song is about Derek Bentley, a British teenager who was involved in the murder of a police officer in 1952, and sentenced to death by hanging. Costello explained in a 1989 interview with On The Street: "It's one of the cases that's always brought up when they have the big debate about capital punishment. And as you can hear in the song, I didn't want to make any ironical point, it's fairly much a statement of what I understand the facts of the case to be, and what I feel about it, and the way the debate is used as a distraction from ... from the horror of an execution.

Blind Lemon Jefferson
Hangman's Blues

Ellis Fitzgerald
Miss Otis Regrets

"Miss Otis Regrets" is a song composed by Cole Porter in 1934, and first performed by Douglas Byng in Hi Diddle Diddle, a revue which opened on October 3, 1934, at London's Savoy Theatre.

Everly Brothers
Down In The Willow Garden

"Down in the Willow Garden", also known as "Rose Connelly" is a traditional Appalachian murder ballad about a man facing the gallows for the murder of his lover: he gave her poisoned wine, stabbed her, and threw her in a river. It originated in the 19th century, probably in Ireland, before becoming established in the United States.

Johnny Cash
Joe Bean

A regional hit by Homer and Jethro in early 1964, the record includes the warning: "Do Not Divulge the Ending".

Also a version by The Courriers in 1961.

Victoria Spivey
Murder In The First Degree

Kingston Trio
Tom Dooley
[Wiki] [Background]

"Tom Dooley" is an old North Carolina folk song based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina, allegedly by Tom Dula.

Pacific Gas & Electric
[Wiki] [Website]

"Stagger Lee", also known as "Stagolee" and other variants, is a popular American folk song about the murder of Billy Lyons by "Stag" Lee Shelton in St. Louis, Missouri at Christmas, 1895.

Trey Parker
Hang The Bastard
[Wiki] [Website]

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