The death penalty. Yes, the executioner's song. Hanging, the electric chair and lethal injections, all grist for the songwriter's art.
[Susan Forbes Hansen's 2010 compilation of suggestions] Peter Bellamy: Danny Deever (Wake the Vaulted Echoes) Blind Blake: Rope Stretchin' Blues Jerry Bryant: Thomas Bird (Harbo and Samuelson) Carter Family: John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man (Anthology of American Folk Music) Steve Deasy: Let Me Make Peace (People Once Were Welcome Here) (about more than death penalty) Bob Dylan / Chris Smither: Desolation Row John Flynn: Full Circle (Dragon) Jim Gaudet: Kill the Clown (Give Up The Ghost) Mary Gauthier: Karla Faye (Drag Queens in Limousines) Nanci Griffith: Not Innocent Enough (The Loving Kind) Woody Guthrie: Slipknot Blind Lemon Jefferson: âLectric Chair Blues JP Jones: Headed for Home (Broken Open) Charlie King & Karen Brandow - Who Will Be Next on the Gallows - Higher Ground [although this mentions executing Saddam, it really isn't about the death penalty per se] Ray Korona Band: Marching to Let Them Live (The People Are in Charge) Ewan MacColl / Judy Collins: Tim Evans Rod MacDonald: 137 Executions, Not One Innocent Man (Recognition) Kate MacLeod: Tom Egan (Drawn from The Well) Phil Ochs: Iron Lady on âI Ainât A-Marching Anymoreâ or âAll the News Thatâs Fit to Singâ Odetta: Gallows Pole (The Essential Odetta) Paxton: Bring Back the Chair Paxton / Hills: Under American Skies PP&M, others: Gallows Pole / Hangman (See What Tomorrow Brings, etc.) Luke Powers: Texas Death Row Blues (Hwy 100) Pete Seeger's "Walking Down Death Row" (Earle, on âSeedsâ) Shel Silverstein: 25 Minutes to Go (Inside Folk Songs) (also recorded by Johnny Cash on âJohnny Cash at Folsom Prisonâ) Springsteen: Johnny 99 âDead Man Walkingâ soundtrack âTom Dooleyâ "Long Black Veil:" Chieftains, Jagger, Sting, Cash, Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, Marianne Faithful, Dave Matthews Band [older suggestions] walking down death row by pETE SEEGER Tom Paxton, "Bring Back the Chair". Tales From the Briarpatch album. Steve Earle\ Ellis Unit One from Jane Burnett: The Green, Green Grass of Home (Baez, Cash -- I think) El Preso Numero Nueve (Baez) Singing The Spirit Home by Eric Bogle on his old LP by that name, and rereleased on the 5 album cd set of that name --the compilations on Bloodshot Records featuring Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and guests. I believe they were called "Executioners Songs" and the second set was a double disc. --"Hangman" is apropos; there's a huge number of people who've recorded it (and I'm not entirely sure it's Celtic in origin). The "Gallus Pole" version, covered by Led Zeppelin, comes originally from Lead Belly, and it's on a couple of recordings, including his Last Sessions and perhaps on "Bourgeois Blues" -- don't remember for sure. Almeda Riddle's version is a classic; it's on one of the "Southern Journey" discs on Rounder. Another possibility is "Green, Green Grass of Home", a song I've always considered hyper-sentimental given the reality of what's being discussed, but I figured I'd mention it anyway. --"25 Minutes to Go" by Shel Silverstein --Fairport Convention's "Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman". There's a version of it on the Richard Thompson album "guitar, vocal", and another on his "Watching the Dark" anthology, and on the 4-lp set "Electric Muse" . Phil Ochs's "Iron Lady", on "I Ain't Marching Any More" . --You might want to read George Orwell's short piece, "A Hanging". --There's Eric Bogle's Singing the Spirit Home, tho it's about political prisoners --long black veil --tom russell: the sky above the mud below (or something like that) --Peggy Bertsch (Nashville) has a wrenching song on her "Hiding in the Stone" album. --Tom Paxton and Anne Hills: "Under American Skies" is all about capital P. --Rise: The Gallows from POSING AS HUMAN --John McCutcheon & Tom Chapin: "Dead Man Walking" - from "Doing Our Job" -- Marty Robbins: "The Chair" - from the album "Great" - also "The Hanging Tree" on "All Time Greatest Hits" - Johnny Cash: "25 Minutes to Go" - live version on "At Folsom Prison", studio version on "Ballads of the True West" - an earlier version by Tex Ritter might be worth searching for - Merle Haggard: "Sing Me Back Home" from the album of the same title, included in many collections of his earlier material --Mary Gauthier's song about Karla Faye Tucker --Jory Nash: Tangle With The Ghost CD called "Prisoner's Lament" --koerener ray and glover have a great version of hangman (gallows pole) on blues rags and hollers --Steve Earle: Over Yonder (Transcendental Blues) --"With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm," and "My Name is Samuel Hall" is about a guy who is about to be executed. Smee and Blogg the Singing Executioners don't have an album out but if you wish to contact them, go to www.smeeandblogg.com to see if they might have a demo lying around --Robert Earl Keen's Sonora's Death Row "Sonora's Death Row" was written by Kevin "Blackie" Farrell. Other versions include Tom Russell's and Leo Kottke's. --Frank Proffitt's "Tom Dula" -- more commonly known as "Tom Dooley" --Soundtrack for "Dead Man Walking" --Rod MacDonald: 137 Executions (Recognition) --Long Black Veil --the executioner's song in the mikado Check out Mary Gauthier's song about Karla Faye Tucker. > I know Rod MacDonald's song about the Texas > executions, and Tom Paxton has > one - John McCutcheon & Tom Chapin: "Dead Man Walking" - from the CD "Doing Our Job" - Marty Robbins: "The Chair" - from the album "Great" - also "The Hanging Tree" on "All Time Greatest Hits" - Johnny Cash: "25 Minutes to Go" - live version on "At Folsom Prison", studio version on "Ballads of the True West" - an earlier version by Tex Ritter might be worth searching for - Merle Haggard: "Sing Me Back Home" from the album of the same title, included in many collections of his earlier material - a Celtic folk standard named "Hangman" (Kingston Trio - "Make Way") or "Gallows Pole" (Led Zeppelin III) covered by dozens of artists John Flynn has a great anti-death penalty song on his cd Dragon. It's called "Full Circle". Also Phil Ochs wrote "Iron Lady" and "Paul Krump". Anne Hills has a good version of Iron Lady on Sliced Bread's compilation - What's That I Hear - the Songs of Phil Ochs. Steve Earle - "Billy Austin" on his The Hard Way. Steve Brooks - "best little death house in texas" on Sex, Lies and Videotape
Additional song suggestions? Email Richard Gillmann
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