Knoxville Girl's UK roots

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.

If 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.


Very cool. Thanks for sharing that.

Loved the Nick Cave version.

ETA: Oh and good essay.

I’ve got to figure out a way of working Stagger Lee’s magic, demon-panther skin hat into a role playing game.

Damned interesting. I grew up listening to the Stanley Brothers singing this, so I tend to like their version, which no doubt is the same as the Louvins.

Thanks for the kind words. No-one pays me anything for the time I invest in these essays, so most of my motivation comes from the thought that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying them. It’s nice to know that’s not a completely ridiculous notion.

I like the idea of inserting Stag and his cast into a game. I think his tale would fit that format rather well.

Fascinating, and very well written. Thanks. I love the Cecil Sharpe-style “songlines” tracing of music. There’s a bluegrass tune I heard called “The Cuckoo” that goes:

The cuckoo is a funny bird, she sings as she flies
She’ll bring you glad tidings, she’ll tell you no lies
She sips from the pretty flowers to make her voice clear
And she’ll never sing cuckoo till the spring of the year

And a traditional English song that goes:

The cuckoo she’s a pretty bird, she sings as she flies.
She bringeth us good tidings, she telleth us no lies.
She sucketh white flowers to keep her voice clear,
And everytime she singeth “cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo”,
Then the springtime draweth near.

Totally different tunes though.

Anyway, my only criticism, and I feel churlish for pointing it out, is that Oxford is a city, not a town.

That’s true, Jjimm. Oxford’s been a city since the 1540s, and that’s something I really should have known.

My only excuse - and it’s a pretty weak one - is that “university city” makes such an ugly-sounding phrase.