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Knoxville Girl: New/Old version


Paul Slade

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Knoxville Girl

 

I've just added a new essay about Knoxville Girl to my Murder Ballads website. It traces the song's origins as a 17th Century English ballad, follows its journey across the Atlantic and produces some intriguing new evidence about the original killer and his victim.

 

As part of the article, I've put together a composite version of Knoxville Girl using the original wording of the 17th and 18th Century English ballads which the song grew out of. It's remarkable how closely this version follows the Knoxville Girl story we all know today, and how easy it is to sing the old words to Knoxville Girl's existing tune.

 

If any of that sounds interesting to you, please click the link above. The same (non-profit) site contains my existing Stagger Lee and Frankie & Johnny essays, which people here were kind enough to say they enjoyed back in May.

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Thanks for that, Rhino. No-one pays me anything for the time I devote to these essays, so a lot of my motivation comes from the thought that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying them. It's always nice to have some evidence that's not a completely ridiculous notion.

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Thanks for that, Rhino. No-one pays me anything for the time I devote to these essays, so a lot of my motivation comes from the thought that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying them. It's always nice to have some evidence that's not a completely ridiculous notion.

 

 

I pointed a friend of mine to your site this past weekend. He is a sociologist that has studied criminal behavior and does a fair bit of writting himself. Needless to say, he's a fan.

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It's a great site with fascinating info.

 

:)

 

 

I listen to a lot of bluegrass, mountain music, and British and Celtic folk and, well, there's a lot of violence and tragedy in those songs, sometimes told, disturbingly enough, from the first person. Blues, too, of course. The gangsta rappers may have brought a pocket machine gun mentality to murder ballads and tales of violence -- but violence and even braggadocio about it is hardly new in the music of the people.

 

EDIT:

 

I took 8 or 10 minutes to listen to Charlie's new version and the 1925 version by Arthur Tanner via my Rhapsody subscription and I thought Paul's intro to his long essay on The Knoxville Girl was really nicely observed:

It's the fragility of Charlie Louvin's voice that does it. He was 79 years old when he entered a Nashville studio to re-record
Knoxville Girl
for his self-titled 2007 album, and he sounds like a breath of Tennessee wind could blow him away. There's a palpable sadness in his voice as Louvin's character confesses his old crime, but absolutely no attempt to excuse what he's done.

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