Ep. 46: Murder Ballads – Part II


In today’s episode, we finish our coverage of the dark, passionate world of Appalachian Murder Ballads. We discuss classic woman killin’ tunes such as Pretty Polly, Omie Wise, then move on to the tale of a murderous woman with The Ballad of Frankie Silver. We finish with some words about In The Pines and thoughts on the cultural significance and meaning of murder ballads.




Pretty Polly

Omie Wise

Frankie Silver

In the Pines (Black Girl)

  • IN THE PINES” via International Lyrics Playground. lyricsplayground.com.

General Sources 

‘This Murder Done’: Misogyny, Femicide, and Modernity in 19th-Century Appalachian Murder Ballads” by Christina Ruth Hastie. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Trace: Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange. August 2011.

The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad” by Sean Wilentz and Greil Marcus. W. W. Norton & Company. 2005.

Why Is The ‘Murdered Girl’ So Popular” by Arthur Field. Midwest Folklore. Indiana University Press. Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer, 1951), pp. 113-119.

‘Whackety Whack, Don’t Talk Back’: The Glorification of Violence Against Females and the Subjugation of Women in Nineteenth-Century Southern Folk Music” by C. Kirk Hutson. Journal of Women’s History. Vol. 8, No. 3 (Fall, 1996), pp. 114-142.

99 Years is Almost for Life: Punishment for Violent Crime in Bluegrass Music” by Kenneth D. Tunnel. The Journal of Popular Culture. Vol. 26, Issue 3. 5 March 2004.

Classic American Ballads: from Smithsonian Folkways” compiled and annotated by Jeff Place, Katie Ortiz, and Max Smith. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. 2015.

Searching for silenced voices in Appalachian music” by Deborah J. Thompson. GeoJournal. Vol. 65, No. 1/2, Geography & Music (2006), pp. 67-78

Cecil Sharp (1859-1924)” via Vaughn Williams Memorial Library. Includes links to his diaries and more primary sources.


Additional Resources:

Pretty Polly” by Jonas Tarestad. http://www.youtube.com. 19 December 2006.



Music used in this podcast:

Pretty Polly” by Roger McGuinn

In The Pines” by John Badger & the Mustache Riders of Doom.

Drum Solo For Hospital Ghost” by Lucas Perný


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