Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Best folk song ever?

I think my all-time favorite folksong is Johnny Cash' version of Long Black Veil. I encourage you all to get a cd with this on it and listen. If you can't find Cash, then try my list of other artists who have recorded the song. I have also included the Wikipedia article, because it's cool. The song has a moaning rhythm that really puts you into the simple, adjectivally sparse tale that it tells.

Lyrics for Long Black Veil

Ten years ago, on a cold dark night
Someone was killed, 'neath the town hall light
There were few at the scene, but they all agreed
That the slayer who ran, looked a lot like me

The judge said son, what is your alibi
If you were somewhere else, then you won't have to die
I spoke not a word, thou it meant my life
For I'd been in the arms of my best friend's wife

She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees
Nobody knows but me

Oh, the scaffold is high and eternity's near
She stood in the crowd and shed not a tear
But late at night, when the north wind blows
In a long black veil, she cries ov're my bones

Repeat Chorus

Long Black Veil (song)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Long Black Veil (disambiguation).
"Long Black Veil" is a 1959 country music ballad about a man who is suspected of murder. The alleged is unable to provide an alibi, because he was having an affair with his best friend's wife at the time, and would rather die than reveal this. Subsequently, he is executed by hanging, taking their secret to the grave. The chorus describes the woman's mourning visits to his gravesite in her long black veil. The song is sung from the point of view of the executed man.

Originally recorded in Nashville in 1959 by country music singer Lefty Frizzell, and produced by Don Law, it reached #6 on the U.S. Country chart. The song was written by composer and singer Danny Dill with Marijohn Wilkin in a folk music style in 1959. Wilkin also played piano on the original recording by Frizzell.

The writers later stated that they drew on three sources for their inspiration: Red Foley's recording of "God Walks These Hills With Me"; a contemporary newspaper report about the unsolved murder of a priest; and the legend of a mysterious veiled woman who regularly visited Rudolph Valentino's grave. Dill himself called it an "instant folksong".

The song was a departure from Frizzell's previous Honky Tonk style and was a deliberate move toward the current popularity of folk-styled material and the burgeoning Nashville Sound.

It has become a 'standard' and has been covered by a variety of artists in country, folk and rock styles. It appeared on landmark albums by Johnny Cash and The Band in 1968 (see list below), and charted again in 1999 with the Dave Matthews Band.

Early in her career, Joan Baez incorporated the song into her live repertoire, and recorded it twice (see list below).

The song has been performed by Bruce Springsteen on his 2006 Seeger Sessions Band Tour.

Selected list of recorded versions
1959 Lefty Frizzell - US Country single #6
1960 The Country Gentlemen - Country Songs, Old and New
1962 The Kingston Trio, New Frontier
1962 Burl Ives, The Versatile Burl Ives
1963 Joan Baez, Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2
1965 Johnny Cash, Orange Blossom Special
1968 Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison - US Pop album #13, US Country album #1, UK album #1
1968 The Band, Music from Big Pink - US Pop album #30
1968 Burl Ives, Times They Are A-Changin'
1970 Joan Baez, (I Live) One Day at a Time
1970 Bill Monroe, Kentucky Bluegrass
1970 Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash 1970
1972 New Riders of the Purple Sage, Gypsy Cowboy
1980 Jimmy Ellis aka Orion
1984 Marianne Faithfull, Rich Kid Blues - originally recorded 1971
1986 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Kicking Against the Pricks
1995 The Chieftains with Mick Jagger (vocal), The Long Black Veil
1995 Don Williams, Borrowed Tales
1999 Mike Ness, Cheating at Solitaire
1999 Dave Matthews Band, Listener Supported - US Pop album #15
2000 Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Tony Rice, The Pizza Tapes - originally recorded in 1993
2000 Daryle Singletary That's Why I Sing This Way
2000 John Duffey, Always In Style: A Collection
2002 Jason & The Scorchers, Wildfires + Misfires
The Stanley Brothers
John Anderson
Bobby Bare
Chris Ledoux
Banks & Shane


Post a Comment

<< Home