Extreme 'goodnight songs' To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=151767
25 messages

Extreme 'goodnight songs'

05 Aug 13 - 09:05 PM (#3545953)
Subject: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Joybell

I'm always making lists. No reason.
I got to thinking about songs, in the first person, that are apparently written, and sung, at the point of death. Not the many songs by doomed people written in the hours before they're killed. There are hundreds of them including the "goodnight ballads" of the 19th century.

So then -- there's:
1. "Lights on the Hill" by Joy McKean.
It ends as the truck driver is going over the edge of a cliff.
2. "Boa Constrictor" and 3. "Twenty-five Minutes to Go" both by Shel Silverstein.
They end with "ooooo!" as the singer dies.

"Lights on the Hill" is also an impossible song (I've got a list of them) because there are no witnesses to the death. No mention of a recording device either. Unless the singer is a ghost this song can't exist.

Small list. Can anyone come up with any more "extreme goodnights"?
Cheers, Joy


05 Aug 13 - 10:20 PM (#3545974)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Mr Fox

A couple of obvious ones:-

'Sam Hall'

Up the ladder I did grope,
that's no joke, that's no joke
Up the ladder I did grope, that's no joke.
Up the ladder I did grope,
and the hangman spread the rope,
O but never a word said I,
coming down, coming down,
O never a word said I coming down.

'Polly on the Shore'

And here I lie a-bleeding on the deck
And for her sweet sake must die.
So farewell to me parents and me friends,
Farewell my dear Polly too.
I'd ne'er would have crossed this salt sea so wide
If I had have been ruled by you.

The jilted sailor in Cyril Tawney's 'Sally Free and Easy' may not be at the point of death but he is not far off.....

Think I'll wait till sunset,
See the ensign down,
Then I'll take the tideway,
To my burying ground,

Sally, free and easy,
That should be her name,
When my body's landed,
Hope she dies of shame.


05 Aug 13 - 10:49 PM (#3545981)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Phil Cooper

Not written from the first person viewpoint, but on topic, is Verlon Thompson's song "He Left the Road." You can get a couple good version from youtube.


06 Aug 13 - 04:34 AM (#3546046)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: GUEST

Metalica

NEVER NEVER LAND

Say your prayers little one don't forget my son To include everyone I tuck you in warm within Keep you free from sin 'til the sandman he comes

Sleep with one eye open Gripping your pillow tight

Exit light Enter night Take my hand we're off to never never-land

Something's wrong, shut the light Heavy thoughts tonight And they aren't of snow white Dreams of war Dreams of liars Dreams of dragons fire And of things that will bite, yeah

Sleep with one eye open Grippin your pillow tight

Exit light Enter night take my hand we're off to never never-land

(whisper) Now I lay me down to sleep (x 2)
Pray the lord my soul to keep (x 2)
If I die before I wake (x 2)
Pray the lord my soul to take (x 2)

Hush little baby don't say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
Its just the beasts under your bed
In your closet and in your head

Exit light Enter night Grain of sand

Exit light Enter Night Take my hand!
We're off to never never-land

We're off to never never-land

Take my hand
We're off to never never-land
Take my hand We're off to never never-land

We're off to never never-land


06 Aug 13 - 06:22 PM (#3546303)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Joybell

"Sam Hall" is in the past tense -- like "Long Black Veil". "Polly on the Shore" is a farewell song like the many hundreds about dying lovers. Neither one is as extreme as the three I've mentioned. "Sally Free and Easy" is a long way from qualifying, even if sunset is close. He may change his mind anyway.
Sorry Mr Fox. Thanks for the ideas.
"He left the Road" isn't in the first person. There are millions of them.
"Never Never Land" is an interesting one. It does look like a death trip doesn't it. We don't actually know if it came about, but it might fit here.
Joy


06 Aug 13 - 07:42 PM (#3546330)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Larry The Radio Guy

Then there's, of course, El Paso by Marty Robbins


06 Aug 13 - 08:15 PM (#3546334)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Amergin

The Butcher Boy....

"he found her hanging from a rope"


06 Aug 13 - 08:41 PM (#3546344)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Joybell

Yes, Great. El Paso is probably one. Unless of course he is wrong about the wound being fatal.
"Butcher's Boy" is a really interesting one. It, like some of the songs from this family of "Died for Love" songs, is told in the first person switching to a witness at the end. So it does fit, I think.
Thank you Amergin. I wrote a song-study on this group of songs. I'll look through for the others told this way.
Cheers, Joy


06 Aug 13 - 08:52 PM (#3546349)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Joybell

Well. I was wrong. I think "The Butcher's Boy" is the only one of the big group of "Died for Love" songs that work this way. The others are either told by a witness or they end with the girl saying she's going to die.
Good spotting, Amergin.
Joy


06 Aug 13 - 09:34 PM (#3546359)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Mr Fox

I'd still defend Sam Hall. If it is the past tense, then he is already dead when the song starts - that is pretty extreme to me!

How about 'The Oxford Girl' (The Oysterband version rather than the traditional one)? Not exactly a goodnight ballad, but at least her ghost gets to speak.......

Or perhaps 'Beyond Reason' by Redgum? A last goodnight for the whole of civilisation:

......broken flag poles once so proud
Lay scattered on the cars and homes
Of friends of ours who didn't even know
Our memories closed upon a world
That didn't see the morning
And a cold wind blew to the corners of our souls


06 Aug 13 - 10:30 PM (#3546367)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: GUEST,Frank

"Blizzard" by Jim Reeves, where He dies 100 yards from Mary Ann.
Or
"Running Bear" by Johnny Preston where they both drown in the middle of the river.


06 Aug 13 - 11:23 PM (#3546373)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Amergin

Kev Carmody's Eulogy for a Black Person or his Moonstruck.


What about Paul Kelly's They Thought I was Asleep? Or that song he sings during the suicide scene of the film One Night the Moon?


07 Aug 13 - 05:06 PM (#3546691)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Joybell

"Running Bear" isn't in the first person. Blizzard fits though. I'm seeking songs in the present tense as the speaker dies.
"Oxford Girl" is one of the "Died for Love" group. I don't know the version by the Oyster Band. If it ends like "Butcher's Boy", and is in the first person, and present tense, it will fit. There are many songs told in the past tense presumably by ghosts.
Joy


07 Aug 13 - 05:28 PM (#3546700)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: McGrath of Harlow

Bat out of Hell.

"And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating
Oh breaking out of my body
And flying away
Like a bat out of hell "


07 Aug 13 - 05:54 PM (#3546706)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Deckman

I would offer:

"Hang me, Oh Hang me,
   Until I'm dead and gone ... "

bob(deckman)nelson


08 Aug 13 - 07:58 AM (#3546895)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Mo the caller

For really extreme how about the last goodbye of the last member of a species. The last of the great whales.


09 Aug 13 - 03:02 AM (#3547170)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: GUEST,BobL

The Kipper Family's "Losing of the Whale" ends with the words:

And soon likewise we all were drowned
None lived to tell the tale;
Not one of us survived to tell
Of how we lost that whale.


09 Aug 13 - 04:12 AM (#3547179)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Mo the caller

The version of The Mermaid that we sang at school ends like that

For the want of a lifeboat we all went down
And we sank to the bottom of the sea, the sea, the sea,
And we sank to the bottom of the sea


09 Aug 13 - 06:29 PM (#3547385)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Joe_F

"The Night before Larry Was Stretched" & "MacPherson's Lament", tho not first-person narratives, contain pointed speeches by the guest of honor. They do not propose to reform the listener. I like their attitude.


10 Aug 13 - 04:40 AM (#3547504)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Jim Carroll

There's an Irish song entitled 'Eight Ways a Man Can die'
And another (title escapes me) which starts at the subject's birth and actually finishes with the fading of the light and his last breath
Just the thing to get a session swinging
One of the English Goodnight Ballads in the first person finishes AFTER the rope tightens.
Bert Lloyd once claimed that the term 'Goodnight Ballad' originated with a description by Daniel Defoe of the custom of spectators at public executions shouting 'Goodnight" at the actual second that the customer went to join the 'choir invisibule'
Ive never been able to confirm or dispute this - has anybody?
Jim Carroll


10 Aug 13 - 06:54 AM (#3547527)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: GUEST,Grishka

Indirect speech only, but one of my all-time favourites:

Miss Otis Regrets She's Unable to Lunch Today (Cole Porter).


10 Aug 13 - 08:47 AM (#3547540)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Phil Cooper

Ben Bedford's song Lincoln's Man is first person.


13 Aug 13 - 02:02 AM (#3548440)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: Amergin

Slim Dusty's all my mates are gone.


13 Aug 13 - 04:28 PM (#3548696)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: GUEST,Guest, Dave in Michigan

Tichbourne's Elegy, apparently written to his wife on the eve of
his execution in 1585 (i.e. not written by an anonymous hack
to be sold as a broadside):

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.


16 Aug 13 - 02:59 PM (#3549907)
Subject: RE: Extreme 'goodnight songs'
From: GUEST,Guest, Dave in Michigan

Oops, sorry Joybell, I missed your intent.

How about "I come and stand at every door" (the narrator
explicitly claims to be dead). Sorry, I don't know
how to type the original Turkish title on a US-MSWindows
keyboard.