Long Black Veil

Blame it on Covid. Blame it on the crazy US election season that finally ended today.

The song titled, “Long Black Veil” has been running through PG’s mind on repeat since last night.

From Wikipedia:

“Long Black Veil” is a 1959 country ballad, written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell.

It is told from the point of view of a man falsely accused of murder and executed. He refuses to provide an alibi, since on the night of the murder he was having an extramarital affair with his best friend’s wife, and would rather die and take their secret to his grave than admit the truth. The chorus describes the woman’s mourning visits to his gravesite, wearing a long black veil and enduring a wailing wind.

In 2019, Frizzell’s version of “Long Black Veil” was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

. . . .

The writers later stated that they drew on three sources for their inspiration: Red Foley’s recording of “God Walks These Hills With Me”, a contemporary newspaper report about the unsolved murder of a priest, and the legend of a mysterious veiled woman who regularly visited Rudolph Valentino’s grave. Dill himself called it an “instant folksong.”

Wilkin played piano on the original recording by Frizzell. The song was a departure from Frizzell’s previous honky tonk style and was a deliberate move toward the then current popularity of folk-styled material and the burgeoning Nashville sound.

Link to the rest at Wikipedia

While the song has been performed and recorded by a great many talented performers, PG considers the Johnny Cash performance as the ultimate. That’s the version that has been running through PG’s head.

Here are the lyrics of the first two verses of original Lefty Frizzel song.

Ten years ago, on a cold, dark night
There was someone killed ‘neath the town hall light
There were few at the scene, but they all agreed
That the slayer who ran looked a lot like me

The judge said, “Son what is your alibi?
If you were somewhere else, then you won’t have to die”
I spoke not a word, though it meant my life
For I had been in the arms of my best friend’s wife

The following video features Johnny Cash and Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell and PG likes it a lot.


4 thoughts on “Long Black Veil”

  1. A writer with strong technical skills who struggles to generate ideas for stories could do worse than to mine folk music – from multiple countries – for plots, subplots, and characters.

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