Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash, The Dixie Chicks, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson. The English ballads persisted, however, and “Katie Dear”, the Appalachian version of “The Silver Dagger”, though beautifully arranged and breathily sung by brothers Earl and Bill Bolick, remains a grim, heartbreaking tale of star-crossed love and mutual suicide. All the music here is under creative commons licence. Most of the old-timers of Appalachian folk music were poor men, usually coal miners and laborers of one kind or another. Appalachian folk music is no exception: when settlers from the British Isles came to the Appalachian Mountains, they brought with them the “murder ballad,” a song specifically relating to an infamous crime, either real or fictional. It sounds like a cold, grey day deep in the forests of the Appalachians, all the presence and cold grace of a bitter wind. We want to hear from you! There is a lot to digest here, and the more rocking, full-band recordings sound a bit out of place, but there is no question: from the haunting "Appalachian Death Sigh" to the lovely, plaintive "Junked Lot Serenade" to the Dylanesque rant of "I'm Not Over Loving You," this is all amazing stuff. BOOK REVIEW: Christmas Is Just as Scary as Halloween in 'Appalachian Winter Hauntings' Reviewed By David M. Kinchen "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens can be credited with furthering the art of the ghostly or horrific and scary Christmas story, but the tradition goes back well before the great English writer published his novella in December 1843. The mysterious lights can be found in Burke County, North Carolina, in the Pisgah National Forest. © Copyright 2021 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. Halloween parties often play songs like Monster Mash, Ghostbusters, and Thriller but I’m talking about songs that are truly spooky. There are thousands of printed and manuscript books of music for plucked-string instruments from the late fifteenth century through the end of the eighteenth century. In This Article: Frank Proffitt's version stands out in its gentle brutality: Proffitt's voice is deep and soothing, a slow rumble over his delicate banjo picking (played on Proffitt's homemade banjo -- Profitt was a carpenter and luthier who crafted his own instruments). 1.50 GBP - … I said, yes, sir, my name is Lee; I murdered little Sadie in the first degree. So he picked up that silver dagger and plunged it through his troubled heart, saying ‘Goodbye Katie, goodbye darling, for now forever we must part. Want more Rolling Stone? It is with this in mind that I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are the Appalachian folk songs that a metal listener might appreciate best. After Appalachian Spring, Copland continued to compose popular works for orchestra, including his Third Symphony. Thanks in part to the influence of Appalachian folk, hillbilly and Western swing, country music has always addressed some pretty dark subject matter. Perfect for lonely winter nights in an old cabin somewhere up the holler. Harvey , on his Murder Ballads album, but Justice’s low-key, brooding 1932 version holds its own against Cave’s. Here then are 10 country murder songs that best sum up the sub-genre. Article. A land of deepest shade, unpierced by human thought; the dreary region of the dead where all things are forgot. However, for me it is Ralph Stanley’s version, cut in 1996 at the age of 69, that truly defines the spirit of this song. I wish, I wish, my baby was born and sitting on its Papa’s knee, and me poor girl were dead and gone, and the green grass growing o’er my feet. Gillian Welch plays haunting, Appalachian-style folk that seems to use the tempo of a dying heartbeat for a metronome. You may have heard the excellent Tim Eriksen version of this song on the soundtrack to Cold Mountain but I’m going to go with the Doc Watson and Gaither Carlton version here due to the legendary status of Watson and Carlton in the realm of Appalachian ballad singers and because of Carlton’s beautiful cross-tuned fiddling, unique to the mountain tradition and singularly arresting. In 1963, John Cohen filmed a short documentary about Roscoe Holcomb titled ‘The High Lonesome Sound’ Holcomb is, and always will be, the living embodiment of that sound: a coal miner for most of his life, he took the high pitched vocal stylings of Old Regular Baptist tradition and set it to some of the darkest ballads of his time. Jan 27th : Erin Foxworthy. Creative commons music is a type of music license that allows you to use the music for as long as desired. Here is a wonderful arrangement of the haunting Appalachian song by John Jacob Niles. John Hardy's mother came to him and said ‘Johnny what have you done?’ ‘I've killed me a man in a poker game and I'm standin' on the barrel of my gun, Lord, Lord, oh I'm standin' on the barrel of my gun.’. To be a bona fide country murder tale, the song must have a homicide (or two), a narrative and, of course, possess that distinctive country sound. It’s short, but you won’t forget it, especially when you figure out that this spritely song is about a jilted man throwing his cheating lover onto the train tracks to be decapitated, thereafter hiding “in the pines” to evade the law. G.B. But Western North Carolina was not coal country, and thus the music that came out of that region was often softer and more tuneful than the hardscrabble passion of Kentucky and West Virginia artists. Kelly Harrell’s 1927 recording of “Guiteau” is my favorite version of this song, mainly on the strength of Harrell’s deep, unique vocal stylings. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. The Carter Family would do it really well. This year’s Celebration of Traditional Music (CTM) greets Halloween by focusing on British and Appalachian ballads, haunting tales of love and loss. The unaccompanied ballad is a distinctly Appalachian phenomenon, and one of the most haunting subsets of Appalachian folk music. Another Wilkes County musician, Dock Walsh (his first name was actually “Doctor”) was one of the first to record the three-finger style of banjo playing, giving his music a bouncy, spirited feel. LATEST REVIEW BY GEOFFREY HIMES (Paste, Nashville Scene, American Songwriter Magazine, Washington Post) “Bolten leads Geraldine, a string band based in Ellicott City. When women sang murder ballads, it was frequently in defiance of popular attitudes against women dealing with “unbecoming” subject material. For poor people living largely by their own resourcefulness and often at the mercy of mining or timber companies. In Holcomb’s hands, the song is a harrowing, haunting experience, with his flat keen soaring above his singular, fluid banjo playing. Thanks in part to the influence of Appalachian folk, hillbilly and Western swing, country music has … Pretty Polly, you’re guessin’ about right, I dug on your grave two-thirds of last night. An excellent selection for concert and festival it includes an optional Flute obbligato. They are, as s,ome sources would put it, not as they seem, and it’s this sense of dread and unease that is evoked in “I Wish My Baby Was Born”. Holcomb, Boggs, and Kazee were Kentuckians, and thus their cultural background was in the hard labor of the coal mines. Appalachian folk music is most interesting when it serves as a historic chronicle: consider Will Stepp’s “Bonaparte’s Retreat”, a fiddle tune based on an early 19th century fife tune. Alice Gerrard is the featured performer. She leaned herself against a fence, just for a kiss or two; with a little pen-knife held in her hand, she plugged him through and through. “In The Pines” is an Appalachian classic that has been recorded by Roscoe Holcomb and Bill Monroe, but Walsh’s 1926 recording was the first and certainly one of the most unique. The term "Appalachian music" is in truth an artificial category, created and defined by a small group of scholars in the early twentieth century, but bearing only a limited relationship to the actual musical activity of people living in the Appalachian mountains. If ever there was a song that exemplified the Appalachian murder ballad, Holcomb’s “Omie Wise” is it. It’s essential listening from one of the greatest American folk artists. Bo Lamkin rocked the cradle and the faultress she sung, while the tears and the red blood from the cradle did run. Another English tune turned rough and cruel in its journey to the Appalachians, “Bo Lamkin” is the American iteration of the brutal “Long Lankin”. Molly O’Day, from Pike County, KY, had a brash, sassy voice that lent itself well to songs about hardship and murder, and with her series of excellent backing bands recorded many superb versions of traditional ballads, including her rendition of “Poor Ellen Smith”, the true story of Smith’s 1894 murder by Peter DeGraff, a mentally-disabled man who could not understand Smith’s rejection of him. Oh yes you're low, and very low, and death is on you dwellin'. And first degree and the second degree, if you got any papers, won't you read 'em to me? And like Boggs, Justice still maintained a strong enough tie to his heritage to put his blues-inflected guitar to the ballads of his youth, in this case derived from the English “Young Hunting”. Likewise, simply mentioning the capital offense does not a murder ballad make — there needs to be action. Halloween parties often play songs like Monster Mash, Ghostbusters, and Thriller but I’m talking about songs that are truly spooky. Music, Film, TV and Political News Coverage. “Allen” is, like “Katie Dear,” a tale of two lovers who are destined to meet only in death; Ritchie’s shimmering, high-pitched singing gives it a truly ethereal feel. Like fellow coal miner Dock Boggs, West Virginia’s Dick Justice bucked tradition and trends through being heavily influenced by black musicians. Admission is $10. He beat her, he banged her, he drove her round and round; he threw her in the river where he knew she would drown. “Haunting Appalachian Folk” “Honey Sweet Harmonies” Our first album, Harvester, is available now! Explore our music library to find great free copyright music with free download available as MP3 format. He also wrote music for films. Hi there! Items with an asterisk* are licensed by Hal Leonard Corporation and available on Sheet Music Plus, and links to those items will open in a new window.An “(mp3)” link on a Sheet Music Plus … My Spooky October wouldn’t be complete without a post about scary songs. Article. Artists from Willie and Cash to the Dixie Chicks get away with the unspeakable. Likewise, “Charles Guiteau”, which dates to the 1880s and tells the story of the notorious assassin of President James Garfield, is interesting in that it tells the story through Guiteau’s first-person perspective. One of the most famous of the Appalachian murder ballads is “Tom Dooley”, but most listeners are probably unaware that, as with many such ballads, it is based on a true story. It was hard to choose which version of this song, also known as “Down In The Willow Garden,” to feature on this list; Grayson and Whitter made an excellent original take in 1927. I wanted sonically for it to be what is known in Appalachian country as a field holler, which is a mix of the old haunting Appalachian mountain music with a gospel influence. Grayson’s uncle had led the posse that arrested Dula in 1866, and it was this connection to the song that led him and Henry Whitter to record “Dooley” for the first time in 1929. Doors open at 7:30. You took her on the hillside to make her your wife, you took her on the hillside where there you took her life. Erin Foxworthy's Bio. This ballad is of particular interest because it describes the murder of a man by a woman and of the cover-up of the murder by the women of the town, a gender reversal that is still a unique subversion to this day. Appalachian Ghost Tales and Stories to Help You Get Your Halloween On! My Spooky October wouldn’t be complete without a post about scary songs. “Am I Born To Die?” is not technically a murder ballad, but it is a lament, and in this way as dark and foreboding as any chronicle of murder or death. This setting is best for high school women's choirs and up and is ideal … While first regulated to merely scattered settlers, explorers, and hunters in the region, reports of the legend of the Ghost Choir really took off with the construction of a luxurious resort hotel called the Cloudland Hotel, built in 1878 by Colonel John T. Wilder, a Union Army officer during the Civil War. That famous refrain is one most readers of Thomas Wolfe's Look … BUY IT HERE. While Roscoe Holcomb came from the Baptist tradition, fellow Kentucky coal miner Moran Lee “Dock” Boggs took a different approach. I divided the haunting songs that came to mind into 3 different groups. He also occasionally played slide guitar with a knife, which is pretty damn rad. The music also evolved, with cross-tunings, church keens and shape-note singing creating a dark sonic foundation for these grim folk tales. In Appalachian folklore, owls are birds of ill-omen, often referred to as “carrion birds” and it is said that they bring sickness and death with them. The tonal dissonance with the gruesome story of Lamkin makes this version the creepiest and, in my opinion, most effective version of this timeless ballad. 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Performed under candlelight, “All Alone and Lonely: An Evening of Haunting Appalachian Folklore,” will take place Sunday, Oct. 29, and again on Tuesday, Halloween night, both nights at 8 p.m. Sign up for our newsletter. “I Wish My Baby Was Born” is another lament, but this one is harsher than “Am I Born To Die”, telling of a man who wishes his premature child were still alive in place of his wife and fearing the call of the owl. In many ways the quintessential murder ballad, “Lamkin” tells the tale of a mason who builds a castle for his lord but receives no pay, and so takes out his revenge by murdering the lady and her infant child with the aid of the castle’s nurse. This is by no means a comprehensive list and I am by no means a Lomaxian ethnomusicologist, but perhaps with this list I can provide some dark, classic Appalachian folk music for the discerning metal listener. “I Wish My Baby Was Born” is another lament, but this one is harsher than “Am I Born To Die”, telling of a man who wishes his premature child were still alive in place of his wife and fearing the call of the owl. However, he never lost sight of his roots, and his version of the murder ballad “Pretty Polly” brings this to the forefront. Jean Ritchie, from Viper, Kentucky, came from one of the great ballad-singing families of Kentucky, and specialized in unaccompanied renditions of ballads directly derived from the British tradition. 2007-01-08 00:00:00 FEATURED AUTHOR Mary Aswell Doll "O lost and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again!" Nonetheless, women were often seen as keepers of knowledge and traditions, and women singers were often praised for their command of the songs and the beauty in their singing. He also wrote music for films. There are tons of things I could tell you about myself, but all you really need to know is I'm crazy in love with my home in Appalachia-the people, the food, the music, the colorful language, the sustainable lifestyle, the history, the soaring mountains, and the deep dark hollers. Ergo, “Murder Was the Case” wouldn’t qualify. “Am I Born To Die?” asks that fundamental question at the heart of human existence: is the sum of human existence simply to be and then die, with naught left over and a yawning void at the end? That such songs were preserved almost perfectly from the 19th until the 20th century speaks volumes of how isolated many places in Appalachia were until relatively recently, and how central the folk music of the region was to its people’s understanding of history and national politics. The lot of women in Appalachia was harsh and often violent, but where possible strong women like Molly O’Day could shed a little light in the darkness. It is interesting to note not only differences between artists but also regional differences within the greater umbrella of Appalachian folk music, as exemplified by Hickory, North Carolina’s Blue Sky Boys. They’re also among the most popular — trying to count the number of times murder is alluded to in country’s storied history is, like James Joyce said of eternity, akin to moving a beach one grain of sand at a time. The subsequent trial and execution was a sensation throughout Western North Carolina, and to this day residents of Wilkesboro can tell you the true story of Foster’s murder (I actually learned this true story from a friend of mine who was born and raised in Wilkesboro). The unaccompanied ballad is a distinctly Appalachian phenomenon, and one of the most haunting subsets of Appalachian folk music. Unlike Holcomb or Boggs, who led hard lives and whose music is rough and blunt, Kazee imbued his sound with an elegance that was hitherto rare in Appalachian folk music, with an almost operatic voice that brought out the influence of his education in oratory and language. The minor-key melody and swift tempo makes for a song that is equal parts dark and defiant. My race is run beneath the sun and Hell is a-waitin’ for me, for I did murder that pretty little miss whose name was Rose Conley. Rent $3.99 “Omie Wise” is an embellished version of the true story of Naomi Wise, an orphaned girl in 19th century North Carolina who was impregnated by her abusive lover, John Lewis. Stanley was, along with Bill Monroe, one of the first artists to bring the “high lonesome sound” down from the mountains and into the modern Bluegrass tradition, and the slow cadence and full instrumentation of his version of “Rose Conley” bear this out. A list of lyrics, artists and songs that contain the term "haunting" - from the Lyrics.com website. The female voice in Appalachian folk is in many ways as important as the male voice: women’s lives were as tough and unforgiving as those of their husbands, and frequently more so given their limited rights and opportunities. It’s a cathartic song for me that I wrote literally driving through the mountains in winter on the way to the studio. Music is huge part of my life-that’s no surprise to anyone who reads the Blind Pig on a regular basis. The train run back one mile from town and killed my girl, you know. In addition to English ballads, many Appalachian ballads came from Scotch-Irish traditions, keeping with the predominantly Scotch-Irish background of Appalachian inhabitants. Kazee recorded two versions of “John Hardy,” a ballad about an alcohol fueled murder in 1894: his 1958 Smithsonian recording is the standout, a peppy banjo tune and Kazee’s iconic tenor belying the rough origins of the subject matter. Clarence Ashley was a native of Bristol, Tennessee, and was known as a “one-eyed fiddler, hell-raiser and big talker.” He brought this hard-living attitude to his music, which had an aggression not often found in the folk music of his day. Click or touch a boldface title to preview and learn more about the selection. The Haunting of Thomas Wolfe The Haunting of Thomas Wolfe Doll, Mary Aswell. Her clothes were all scattered and thrown on the ground, and blood marks the spot where poor Ellen was found. An Appalachian version of the English song “The Gosport Tragedy” about a young woman murdered in a forest and buried in a shallow grave, Boggs’ version blends the bleakest elements of the blues and Appalachian folk to craft a brutal but compelling song that holds up ninety years after its 1927 recording. Most of them are murder ballads, all of them deal with death, sorrow and the unknown, and many of them are very, very old. He moved to New York in 1927 where he recorded 51 songs in two years before retiring to Morehead, Kentucky to become a pastor. Higher Power Metal: Discussing “III: Pentecost” with Wytch Hazel’s Collin H…, Screaming Bloody Oranges, Episode #9: Discussing Album Art + A Metallica De…, This List Goes to Eleven: Invisible Oranges’ Top Ten Records of 2020. Dillard Chandler’s plaintive, unassuming singing makes his version the darkest, and therefore the most metal. In the hardscrabble reality of the mountains, these ballads grew and twisted like the roots of an oak tree, and were frequently accompanied by new songs relating contemporary crimes, murders, and superstitions. After she discovers the haunting beauty of the local Appalachian folk music she is determined to record and share it with the world—but first she'll have to earn the trust of the townspeople. “Barbara Allen” originated in Scotland and was first attested by Samuel Pepys in 1666, and like many other such ballads it crossed the ocean and ascended the mountains to ultimately be recorded by Ritchie in 1960. As her website describes, “Simply put, Alice […] In 1866, former Confederate soldier Tom Dula of Wilkes County, NC stabbed Laura Foster in the heart and buried her in a shallow grave, allegedly out of revenge for giving him syphilis. No better, no better you'll never be for you can't get Barbry Ellen. Yet the melody is all old-time, only a few steps removed from the English folk tune from which it derives, and Stanley’s gravel-and-blossom Virginia accent sets this version firmly in the realm of the Appalachian folk tradition. Appalachian Mountain ghost stories, culture, folklore and people. So put some logs on the fire, pour yourself a glass of whiskey, and take a long hard listen to that High Lonesome Sound. Author Page. Buell Kazee was different: coming from a poor family, he learned banjo at age five before earning a degree from Georgetown College where he learned Latin and Greek. In mountain speech, one can still hear words and expressions from pre-colonial times. Riding the wave of the renewed interest in traditional American music, Classic Mountain Songs From Smithsonian Folkways Recordings showcases a handful of the greatest mountain ballads as performed by some of the most influential folk singers and songwriters of the 20th century. Whitter’s expressive fiddling, Grayson’s powerful but melodic singing voice, and their personal history with the material make it vital listening, nearly ninety years later. Seating is limited. When Lewis discovered Wise’s pregnancy, he took her to the banks of the Deep River, where he savagely beat her before strangling her and throwing her into the river to drown. Her head was caught in the driver wheel, her body I never could find. I divided the haunting songs that came to mind into 3 different groups. Listen to his low, almost bluesy voice: Boggs was blending white and black traditions at a time when it was in many ways dangerous to do so. The Trek. Really. Music Librarian, Appalachian State University. However, Kazee was still a Kentucky boy from Burton Fork, and in spite of his education he knew and had an abiding respect for all the old ballads, including those about murder. The black cap is o'er my face, no longer can I see, but when I'm dead and buried, Dear Lord remember me. Like all good stories, folk music is largely about three things: sex, death and politics. Appalachian folk culture is frequently a grim place, replete with tales of murder, love gone bad and the supernatural. This aggression comes out in “Little Sadie”, a song that breaks with other murder ballads in describing a completely unrepentant murderer who asks for a paper to see if his murder of the titular Sadie has become news. Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash perform together in 1975. Appalachian Trail. ... “Brown Mountain Lights” are known as a supernatural phenomenon and have been the inspiration for many songs in folk music. The Appalachian region was a melting pot where Afro-American song forms, particularly the blues, collided with European-based folk materials, particularly the modal ballad tradition, to create a haunting hybrid that, given its frequent preoccupation with grisly murders and obsessive tales of love gone astray, seemed to suggest a sordid world of ghostly retribution. Appalachian music is the music of the region of Appalachia in the Eastern United States. You may have heard Nick Cave’s excellent version of “Henry Lee,” Performed with P.J. I am from Maryland, I am body positive, and I believe in ghosts. Appalachian music and her decision to become a writer, stating that “I just grew up hearing a story and the stories were completely interwoven with the music, which is appropriate too because Appalachian music so often is telling a story.”154 In Smith’s opinion, oral traditions such ... traditional bluegrass music on a community radio station, hand-carved crafts, fiddles and dulcimers, small white churches dotting the hillsides. Sure, there are songs about cheating, fighting and stealing, but it’s those even darker tunes about killin’ that are the guiltiest of pleasures. The CTM honors the tradition of passing music, stories, and oral history from person to person in the Appalachian Region. Music is huge part of my life-that’s no surprise to anyone who reads the Blind Pig on a regular basis. Boggs was a disciple of the early Kentucky blues guitarist Go Lightning, and shook musical convention by adopting the picked banjo of African-American string band music over the traditional clawhammer of white banjo players of his time. My name is Erin, and if all goes as planned I will be turning 25 on the Appalachian Trail in 2018! The Trek: Appalachian Trail. It’s worth noting that Johnny Cash references this song in “Cocaine Blues,” which is a nice way of noting the great influence that Appalachian folk music had on early country artists.
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