Monday, September 05, 2016

Music on My Mind



Rebecca Naomi Jones, with Karen Olivo, John Ellison Conlee, and Will Swenson, "Murder Ballad".

Ironically not itself a murder ballad; it's a song about murder ballads introducing a 2013 musical with a murder-ballad theme. It mentions at least three songs -- "Mack the Knife" in both Ella's immemorial version and Bobby Darin's version; "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", a Beatles song whose most classic version, however, is Steve Martin's take-it-to-the-limit goofy version from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; and Hendrix's Hey Joe. It's also possible that the "Someone's gonna die" is a reference to Blitz's Someone's Gonna Die, although that's arguably not a ballad since it deliberately refuses to tell much of a story, and it could very well just be a generic claim about the content of murder ballads. I would say that 'There, but for the grace of God, go I' is not a common murder ballad theme, but obviously is a lesson that can also be drawn -- and arguably a good portion of the genre's appeal, particularly given that both punishment of and sympathy with the worst of humanity are common murder ballad themes.

My favorite line: "There's always a killer, / so logically someone has to die." Somehow that ends up being quite catchy.

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