Intro to Murder Ballads

#1 Murder ballads are the true crime novels of the 16th-19th centuries. The lyrics that tell the story of the murder were written, printed on broadsheets, and sold within days of the crime. Paul Slade is a UK journalist with a fascination for the history of murder ballads in the US and Europe. Above, classic… READ THE REST


Nekromantix do a good job of picking up the proud tradition.


Shameless plug: my dear friends in the folk band Vandaveer recently recorded an album of murder ballads called "Oh Willie Please."


Steve Martin performs a fantastic take on the murder ballad (the song is called Pretty Little One) in his current concerts with Edie Brickell.


Is it wrong to enjoy this so much? What a fantastic weird little shelf in the music world. I would also recommend Nick Cave's Murder Ballads album. Some of them are new/fictional creations but Nick Cave's sinister factor really brings it all together.


Killington Hill is an interesting take on a murder ballad.


My favourite is "Goodnight Irene" covered by nearly everybody.


Another shameless plug: check out Charming Disaster's "Murderer" -- creepy and gorgeous.


Then there's "The Murder Ballad" by Jelly Roll Morton...

(Parental Advisory)


The Viennese version of the murder ballad is called "Moritatenlied":

This one tells the tale of an old couple who murder their own son when he comes back home from war to keep his miitary pay for themselves. Song starts at 0:20.


Tom Lehrer's was always one of my favorites


Wow, that song is horrible! And yet they sing it as if they're singing a baby to sleep.

I didn't even realize this is an entire genre! Uh, thanks?

And I guess the Violent Femmes Don't seem so original now.'


We bumped into Nick Cave one night outside the Annandale hotel just after he released his album of murder ballads. We didn't stop to chat. Kind of a shame, in retrospect.


Wow, great stuff folks. Thanks for sharing!


there's a version of this by gg allin called "watch me kill the boston girl." it's REALLY fucked up and i'm not going to link to it. i don't suggest listening to it. to make matters worse, the backing band is antiseen, a bunch of piece of shit nazis.


For another modern example, Norah Jones' "Miriam" is pretty fantastic:


My three favorite are by Tom Waits

Small Change

Romeo Is Bleeding

Murder In The Red Barn


I want to thank everyone in this thread for the music I'm listening to while in spreadsheet hell. Murder ballads, music of choice of sad overworked publishing assistants since 2013.


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