Murder for your Midterms

Written by on May 3, 2016

Viking Twang Episode 86 May 3, 2016
Good morning, friends, and welcome to Viking Twang Episode 86. My name is Randy Black, happy to be here on your college radio station.

If you had a tough week during midterms, we know just how you feel. So we’re going to be a little murderous this week. We’ll start with some classic murder ballads, move on to a whole set of that great gunslinger Marty Robbins, then finish off with some dark countryish songs. To start, Charlie Poole has a sad story to tell.

1 – Turkey Red; W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – The Bluefield Murder; Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers. Written and sung by Roy Harvey and recorded with the Ramblers in February, 1928.
3 – Pretty Polly; Dock Boggs. A traditional song recorded a lot; this is from 1927.
4 – Wild Bill Jones; Billy Strings & Don Julin. A classic love triangle song, here recorded on their 2013 album, Rock of Ages.
5 – Long Black Veil; Alice Gerrard & Hazel Dickens. Their version of the Danny Dill/Marijohn Wilkins song, made a hit by Lefty Frizzell in 1959. Hazel and Alice recorded it for Smithsonian Folkways in 1965.
6 – Pearl Bryan; The Crooked Jades. The true story of a 22-year-old woman decapitated in Fort Thomas, KY, in 1896, supposedly because she was pregnant. From the Bay Area band’s 2000 album Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Story, with Lisa Berman and Jeff Kazor singing.

I recently read a book called “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” by Marlon James, about Jamaican drug gangs in the late 70s. One of the characters says that, although everyone listened to Bob Marley, the gangsters all idolized Marty Robbins’ 1959 landmark album, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. The band is Marty Robbins on vocals and guitar; Grady Martin and Jack Pruett on lead guitars; Bob Moore on bass; Louis Dunn on drums; and Tompall & the Glaser Brothers on backing vocals.

7 – Big Iron; Marty wrote that one.
8 – They’re Hanging Me Tonight; by Art Wolpert and James Low.
9 – Running Gun; by Jim and Tompaul Glaser.
10 – The Strawberry Roan; that’s a traditional song.
11 – The Hanging Tree; by Jerry Livingston and Mack David that was added to the 1999 CD release.

We’re going to get even a little darker between now and the end of the Twang; here’s Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra to take us into the home stretch.

12 – Some Velvet Morning; Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra; from their 1967 album, Nancy & Lee.
13—Scarlet Town; Gillian Welch. From her 2011 album with David Rawlings.
14 – Seven Shells; Fred Eaglesmith, from his 1997 album, Lipstick, Lies, and Gasoline.
15 – If They Could Only See Me Now; Robbie Fulks, from 2005’s Georgia Hard.
16 – The Mercy Seed; Johnny Cash. From his 2000 album, American 3: Solitary Man, produced by Rick Rubin. That’s Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s band on the keys.

Gillian Welch

Gillian Welch

Johnny Cash

Billy Strings & Don Julin





  • Turkey Red
    W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground
  • The Bluefield Murder
    Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers
    Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers
  • Pretty Polly
    Dock Boggs
    American Folk Legends
  • Wild Bill Jones
    Rock Of Ages
    Billy Strings & Don Julin
  • Long Black Veil
    Alice Gerrard & Hazel Dickens
    Pioneering Women of Bluegrass
  • Pearl Bryan
    Crooked Jades
    Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait
  • Big Iron
    Marty Robbins
    Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  • They're Hanging Me Tonight
    Marty Robbins
    Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  • Running Gun
    Marty Robbins
    Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  • The Strawberry Roan
    Marty Robbins
    Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  • The Hanging Tree
    Marty Robbins
    Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  • Some Velvet Morning
    Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
    Nancy & Lee
  • Scarlet Town
    Gillian Welch
    The Harrow & The Harvest
  • Seven Shells
    Fred Eaglesmith
    Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline
  • If They Could Only See Me Now
    Robbie Fulks
    Georgia Hard
  • The Mercy Seat
    Johnny Cash
    American III: Solitary Man
  • Twang Theme
    Tired of Drowning

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