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Songs about capital punishment.

harpgirl 20 Dec 98 - 09:41 PM
Roger in Baltimore 20 Dec 98 - 08:46 PM
Greg F. 20 Dec 98 - 08:39 PM
Pete M 20 Dec 98 - 08:32 PM
BSeed 20 Dec 98 - 08:04 PM
harpgirl 20 Dec 98 - 07:57 PM
20 Dec 98 - 07:41 PM
rich r 20 Dec 98 - 07:14 PM
The Shambles 20 Dec 98 - 03:52 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 20 Dec 98 - 02:38 PM
BSeed 20 Dec 98 - 03:29 AM
Charlie Baum 20 Dec 98 - 01:48 AM
Jon W. 20 Dec 98 - 12:43 AM
Sandy Paton 20 Dec 98 - 12:19 AM
Art Thieme 20 Dec 98 - 12:08 AM
Art Thieme 19 Dec 98 - 11:53 PM
Art Thieme 19 Dec 98 - 11:40 PM
Sandy Paton 19 Dec 98 - 11:29 PM
rich r 19 Dec 98 - 10:45 PM
BSeed 19 Dec 98 - 10:41 PM
rich r 19 Dec 98 - 06:38 PM
The Shambles 19 Dec 98 - 01:49 PM
Liam's Brother 19 Dec 98 - 12:34 PM
The Shambles 19 Dec 98 - 10:47 AM
Liam's Brother 19 Dec 98 - 10:28 AM
Dani 19 Dec 98 - 08:25 AM
The Shambles 19 Dec 98 - 08:02 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: SEND ME TO THE 'LECTRIC CHAIR
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 09:41 PM

No Roger, David's is different:

So Judge, your honor, hear my plea before you open up your court.
I don't crave no sympathy, for what I have to report.
I caught her with a gamblin' Joe I had warned her about once before.
I pulled my knife and I went insane. The rest you already know.

He said, "Judge, judge, good kind judge, send me to the 'lectric chair."
He said, "Judge, judge, hear me, judge: I wanta get outa here.
I want to take a journey to the devil down below.
I sliced up my sweet patootie. I gotta reap just what I sow.
So judge, judge, hear me, judge, and send me to the 'lectric chair."

He said, "Judge, ah, listen to me, judge: please now send me to the 'lectric chair."
He said, "Judge, your honor, mister, sir, I love that girl so dear.
I don't want no bondsman to go my bail
And I don't wanta spend no 99 years stuck in your stinkin' jail.
Judge, ah, judge, hear me, judge: send me to the 'lectric chair.

He said, "Judge, ah, judge, Mr. Sirica, please, send me to the 'lectric chair.
Ah, judge, now judge, meister judge, burn me cause I don't care.
First I cut her with my Barlow, then I kicked her in the side,
Then I stood there laughin' o'er her while she buckled up and died."
I said, "Judge, judge, hear me, judge, and send me to the 'lectric chair."

The breaks aren't quite right but those are his words...harp


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:46 PM

Art,

I think you are recalling David Bromberg's version of "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair." Not that that is bad, just giving you the information. Of course, circa 1974.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Greg F.
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:39 PM

Then there's Phil Ochs' "The Iron Lady"-

Regards-


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Pete M
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:32 PM

Actually Seed, I liked Rich's comment, just got a twisted mind I suppose, but I got an instant vision of someone being put to death by being made to touch grass! Alternatively you could constue it as being buried alive I suppose, either way I have difficulty in taking the song seriously for the reasons Rich gives. Your interpretation may make all the difference of course, but I'm afraid I'll probably never get to hear it.

Eiher way, I suppose I've always felt that the song did nothing to bring out the horror of institutionalized murder, but again that may be down to interpretation, and my, and probably most peoples, have been conditioned by the extant recordings.

On Shambles original question, I don't think political assasination can be justified on moral grounds, and suspect it would be far less effective than may be thought. There are very few cases where the removal of an individual would make that much change to a complex situation. To digress into jargon: the stability of a given system is directly related to both its internal complexity and richness of its links to its environment, not as most people imagine, inversely related.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: BSeed
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 08:04 PM

rich--true, the condemned man doesn't dwell on the mechanics of his coming death or on his possible afterlife, or on any remorse he might have for his crime--but the song's structure, message, and imagery are a bit more complex, I think, than you give it credit for: we first see the condemned man as human, connected to his family and his girlfriend, dreaming about returning to the innocent pleasures of his youth (the oak tree, the walk with Mary), yet aware of the changes time brings--the paint on the old house is now cracked and worn, and the greeting is perhaps one he received on an earlier return home. On first hearing, the first two verses are simple nostalgia for family and home and sweetheart. But when the third verse comes, the condemned man awakes surrounded by the cold grey walls, thinking of the walk to the gallows and his return home, not to be greeted but mourned, the tree of his childhood now his burial site, the green, green grass no longer a symbol of home and youth, but a grave covering.

Anyway, that's the way I try to sing it (avoiding all memory of Tom Jones' overblown version). --seed


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 07:57 PM

Art,
I remember a verse like this...


.judge, judge, good, kind judge
send me to the lectric chair,
judge, judge Mr. Siricca please
burn me cause I don't care
I have to take a journey to the devil down below ,
I sliced up my sweet patootie
lawd I hate to see her go..... harp


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From:
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 07:41 PM

"East Texas Red" by Woody Guthrie---on my LP (Folk Leacy) __That's The Ticket"__(now on cassette only) -- as well as by Arlo Guthrie on a recording--is about hobos who, harrassed by a sadistic brakeman by "kicking over their stew" at their hobo jungle camp, tell hi that they'll be back in a year to make him pay.

Is this a version of "Sir Gawain and The Green Knight??? Sure might be. (More o' my vascilating!)But that'd be amazing.

When they do come back and "Red comes down the line", with their warm clothes, now, and money in their pockets, he begs for mercy. But they kill him.

As John Steinbeck said, and I paraphrase, 'In these sub-stratas of folks who have fallen through the safety net and inhabit a world outside the mainstream, there are only a few options---ostracism or a quick, decisive fight that instantly settles the problem one way or the other. No good or evil here! Just what is--depending on your beliefs---once again!

Still, no offense intended, good people. Just am stating a point of view---a way to see this other than absolutely evil. There's always shades o' gray.

Art


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: rich r
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 07:14 PM

Seed,

Sometimes I don't speak meself so clearly as I think. I guess my problem with that song is that it is altogether too saccharine and nostalgic to be considered a legitimate attempt to grapple with seriousness of capital punishment. The guy in the song might as well be going in for some surgery that has a finite non-zero possibility of being fatal.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 03:52 PM

Not anti-capital punishment songs but ones about the process of the state coldly setting about taking life.

It's when I see the hoops we go through to make execution clean and/or painless and the elevation from nowhere to the front pages, of sad people and their crimes and the pain of temporary reprieves, that I wonder if it is not a self-defeating process.

But again I can see some justification in removing people like Saddam, Stalin and Hitler.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 02:38 PM

"Sing Me Back Home" by -- Merle Haggard & The Strangers? I think I have heard a wealth of capital punishment songs on rural tavern jukeboxes over the years, but this is the only one that comes to mind at the moment.

Also the trad song "Geordie", sometimes sung as "Georgie". It's a Child ballad, IIRC. Gets hanged for stealing deer.

"Bold Lovell" -- see "Whiskey In The Jar" thread, where in this variant he thinks it "bloody hard to swing for liftin' a bit of money." I think there are others about highwaymen getting hanged. One about Dick Turpin, I think.

There should be a wealth of trad songs about people getting hanged -- even that little Irish ditty about the consequences of sticking knives in babies' heads -- but I assume that you mean anti-capital punishment songs.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: BSeed
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 03:29 AM

rich r., strange form of capital punishment? where do you suppose the guard and the sad old padre are headed as they walk arm in arm with the speaker in the song at daybreak, a wedding? unless I'm misinterpreting your post. --seed


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 01:48 AM

Sandy--the Smithsonian/Folkways folk will make custom cassettes and/or CDs similar to your Folk Legacy custom cassettes. I got one of Dock Boggs last year. (Its's just this fall that they've released all the Dock Boggs on non-custom CDs.) And the cassette comes in a handsome little box and photocopies of the original material accompany it, but of course, all the photocopied materials won;t fit into the box, no matter how carefully you fold them.

And on the subject:
Write me a letter
Send it by e-mail
Send it in care of
www.birminghamjail.gov


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Jon W.
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 12:43 AM

Probably it is Barlow not bottle, Art. Barlow is a type of knife (I believe I learned that factoid right here on the forum).

How about the traditional song Gallows Pole (Hangman, hangman, wait a little while/I think I see my father coming, riding many a mile...)


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 12:19 AM

Right you are, Art. I did record the Folkways album of Frank Proffitt, and got Frank Warner to write the notes, since I was recording Proffitt in 1961, and Warner had recorded him in 1938(!), I thought Warner had prior rights to the glory. I'm told that Smithsonian-Folkways will burn a special issue CD for anyone willing to pay a premium for it. Does anyone know whether or not this is true? If it is, one could get Frank Proffitt on CD. My own two albums of his music on Folk-Legacy are only available as "custom cassettes," until we can afford to assemble a CD.

How's the move going, Art? Unpack the joke file first!

Sandy


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Subject: Lyr Add: SEND ME TO THE 'LECTRIC CHAIR^^
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Dec 98 - 12:08 AM

Bessie Smith's "ELECTRIC CHAIR BLUES"-----That's packed away too, but I'm thinkin' I might receall it...

Judge your honor, hear my plea, before you open up your court,
I don't want no sympathy--I just cut my good man's throat,
Found him with a travellin' Jane--I warned her before,
I had my knife, and, well, it's plain,
The rest you ought to know.

CHORUS)
Judge, judge, good kind judge,
You can send me to the 'lectric chair,
Judge, judge, hear my plea,
ou can fry me 'cause I don't care.
I cut him with my Barlow (bottle?),
Stabbed him in the side,
Stood there watchin' over him,
While he wobbled 'round and died,
Judge, judge good kind judge,
Please send me to the 'lectric chair.

Judge, judge, good kind judge--send me to the 'lectric chair,
Judge, judge, let me fly away from here,
Don't want no bonded man to go my bail,
Don't wanna spend no 99 years in jail,
Judge, judge, good kind judge,
Send me to the 'lectric chair.

Judge, judge, please Mr. judge,...

I'm sure there's another verse but it's gone from m'head. Somebody else, please take over:


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 11:53 PM

Sandy---Sorry! Think we just crossed postings in the mail here! I could've sworn I saw the entire "TOM DULA" posted here with no mention of Mr. Proffitt--only the K.T.

Now I can't find that posting anywhere. But folks, Sandy has wonderful recordings of Frank Proffitt on Folk Legacy! And didn't you record the one for Folkways too, Sandy? Seem to recall that you did. Of course, they're all packed away!

Art


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 11:40 PM

Never was the Kingston Trio; 'Twas N. Carolinian, Frank Proffitt, who sang the song for Frank & Ann Warner. They gave it to the Lomax father & son duo who put it into print where the Kingstons found it, filed on it, and made a million bucks---no credit to anybody.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 11:29 PM

Speaking of the Kingston Trio, remember the capital verse in "Tom Dooley" (dula):

This time tomorrow,
Reckon where I'll be,
Down in some lonesome valley,
Hangin' from a white oak tree.

Then there's "MacPherson's Rant," sometimes called "MacPherson's Lament." Another execution song is sometimes called "Been All Around this World."

Hang me, oh, hang me,
And I'll be dead and gone.
Hang me, oh, hang me,
And I'll be dead and gone.
I don't mind your hangin',
It's layin' in the ground so long.
Been all around this world.

Max Hunter, Springfield, Missouri, recorded that one for me back in the early 60s. Now available as a "custom cassette."

And, finally, does anyone remember the song "Come, Oh My Love," which I think was collected on Beech Mountain in North Carolina, about thirty years before I got there? Last verse, sung by the man about to hang:

Come, oh my love, and see me die.
Come, oh my love, and see me die.
Lift your innocent face,
See me dance in the sky.

Can't remember where I saw that one.

Sandy (folk fogey)


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: rich r
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:45 PM

Strange form of capital punishment

rich r


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME^^
From: BSeed
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:41 PM

One of my favorite songs to sing is the very unjudgemental country song (by Curley Putnam, I believe), recorded by Johnny Cash and others, "THE GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME," which, surprisingly, seems not to be in the DT.

The old home town looks the same
As I step down from the train,
And there to greet me are my momma and my daddy.
Down the road I look and there runs Mary,
Hair of gold and lips like cherries,
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.

(chorus)
Yes, they'll all come to see me,
Arms a-reachin', smilin' sweetly,
It's so good to touch the green, green grass of home.

The old house is still a-standin',
But the paint is cracked and worn,
And there's that old oak tree that I used to climb on.
Down the road I walk with my sweet Mary,
Hair of hold and lips like cherries,
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.

(chorus)

Then I awake and look around me,
At the gray walls all around me,
And I realize that I was only dreamin',
'Cause there's a guard and a sad old padre,
Arm in arm we'll walk at daybreak;
Again I'll touch the green, green grass of home.

(final chorus)
Yes, they'll all come to see me,
In the shade of that old oak tree,
As they lay me 'neath the green, green grass of home.

--seed


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: rich r
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 06:38 PM

Tom Paxton's "Bring Back The Chair"

rich r


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 01:49 PM

Sorry Dan, it was just an excuse for a cheap joke, I couldn't think of anyone else who recorded on the Capitol label. I liked them too.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 12:34 PM

Well done, Sir Shambles, but I'm sure many of our fellow Mudcats would not agree with you.

(God! did I really make that many typos?)

All the best.


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:47 AM

I always thought that Capitol punishment was listening to early Kingston Trio Records?


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 10:28 AM

I remember that Ewan MacColl wrote a very powerful song, "Go Down You Murderers," (was the chorous if not the title) on an early Topic lp. I have the record in storage. It was, as I recall, about the execution of Tim Evans... seems it was later proved that he was not the killer.

Then there is always Kipling's "Danny Deever," brilliantly record by Peter Bellamy on Barrack Room Ballads.

In addition to this serious subject, the finality of capital punishment, there is here now an unrelated but very serious issue - Capitol Punishment. Should God (or public opion and history) punish adulturers or should fellow sinners do the job?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Songs about capital punishment.
From: Dani
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 08:25 AM

I would love to hear you do that song. I suffer from not being able to translate lyrics into songs. But your words are powerful.

They're not in the DT, but check out two songs of Pete's: Walking Down Death Row

and

Sacco's Letter to his Son.

Let me know if you don't find them surfing. I'll post them next week.

Dani


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Subject: Lyr Add: DEAD MAN WALKING BLUES (Roger Gall)^^
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 98 - 08:02 AM

There has been some discussion in various threads lately about capital punishment, rather than respond in those, I thought I would start a new thread for songs on this emotive subject. Not very seasonal but with the current situation in Iraq, I for one do not feel very seasonal.

It begs the question, would it be right to kill an individual like Saddam and others, if you knew that by doing so you could prevent the pain and suffering that people like that cause?

This song is strange, the first time I heard the title of the book/film, Dead Man Walking and before I knew what it was about, I knew I would write a song with that title. About six months later and some time after I had seen the film (which is a great film) I wrote the song. It's a blues, on the lines of 'Hootchie Cootchie Man'.



DEAD MAN WALKING BLUES

My lips are dry, I can't talk
I've got to steel myself for one last walk
I can't run with these chains, you see
There's no hurry, they won't start without me
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

You may say, all my life I've been no good
I would have done better, if only I could
But up to now no one noticed me
Now I see myself on the TV
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

My performance may make the news
But I won't be around, to read the reviews
Ain't up to me who they invite
Who will watch my first and last night?
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

The good book may say it but it don't mean it's the truth
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
I did wrong on that fateful night
But two wrongs, they won't make it right
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

My deed was in the heat of that hour
But it don't excuse the abuse of my power
But the cleaner you try to make my death seem
Just seems to make it more obscene!
Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

Dead man walking, the star of the show
Dead man walking, away from death row
Dead man waking, walking slow

Roger Gall 1998


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