Ongoing Public Conversations About True Crime Where "True Crime" Has Been Replaced By "Murder Ballads"
Episode Titles for “…But There Was No One In The Glen.”
Chapter One: Whatever happened to that nut-brown maid?
“’Twa the most brutal scene I’ve come across in seventeen years of greensward-wandering.”
Chapter Two: “He said, ‘I forbid you, maidens a’”
“I mean, maidens a’? Maidens some, I could understand, but maidens a’? It didn’t sit right with me. But I didn’t say anything about it at the time.”
Chapter Three: Of dark towers, and coming to them.
“I just didn’t want him to go.”
Chapter Four: “So where are the plague ballads?”
“My first thought was, He lied in every word. But my second thought was, Well, no one’s going to listen to anything Tom o’ Bedlam has to say. So I figured we were safe.”
Chapter Five: A note to our beloved balladeers, and a request for continued support. (“Throwing a single coin into our soft cap when you pass our minstrels in the marketplace makes a world of difference.”)
Chapter Six: A rag. A bone. A hank of hair.
This chapter is brought to you by the Seven Sleepers. Sleep like you’re the king under the mountain where the ravens still circle the peak.
Chapter Seven: Finally: Fair Janet goes to Carterhaugh.
“When I heard that, I said, you’d better take some shovels with you.”
We’re Listening To More Murder Ballads Than Ever. Is That A Problem?
Obviously people love true stories of murder, deceit, and gore — just look at the beloved and storied history of Greek curse tablets, Roman infamies, ancient Egyptian execration texts. People have always loved sitting in their bowers sewing at their silken seams thinking about Lady Margaret sitting in her bowers sewing at her silken seams, an’ brakeing the tree before she had pu’d a nut nor broken a branch but ane.
We like to think we’re somehow too smart or too special to brake the tree before pu’ing a nut nor broken a branch but ane — but how many murders really take place in sewing-bowers? And what does this near-exclusive focus say about us?
comment from etienne-cruel-Lincoln: some of us have never sat in a bower in our lives. What have you to say to that, Marry Mell, Marry Mell?
comment from gang-aglee-1103: Lord Cawline NEVER sailed west from o’er the sea!!!
“He said he’d given the bones to his greyhounds, danny-do. That’s when I knew something was wrong. Because greyhounds don’t act like that after they’ve eaten regular bones.”
Junie of the Greenwood: It’s May she comes and May she goes, down by the garden green.
Hey Bonnie Say So Bonnie Oh The Elf-King’s Dochter: Speak on, speak on, my high-flower’d lady.
Junie: Welcome to Get Thee Hie From Hence, a new show about what happens at the hangin’-oak when Fair Peter meets ye there.
Bonnie Oh: One May-Day on the Bonnie Banks of Fordie, Leesome Brand went to the king of Estmere’s court. Up until this point, Leesome had been living a pretty typical courtly lifestyle — gude red gowd for hire, steeds do stand bath wight and able, wind never blew nor cocks ever crew — this wa’ the life of Leesom Brand.
Leesome Brand: I was scarcely ten years auld. It was to serve for meat and fee.
Junie: So perhaps it’s not surprising that Leesome failed to heed the warnings against Long Lankin that lives amongst the gorse — to beware the moss, to beware the moor, to be sure the doors are bolted well, lest Lankin should creep in.
Leesome Brand: I could borrow a key easy, and win her love more easy, or else a cook in the royal kitchens be. So I wasn’t worried.
Bonnie O: It had dune his doun tae his father’s good stocks — but then that night he daurna gang hame. Even wished he had died on some frem isle, that his pretty ship had sink, and he had been forlorn.
Junie: What would you say to Proud Margaret, all these years later, after everything’s that happened, if you could speak to her ance mair?
Leesome: If I did spy Proud Margaret — I’d say she was lying far over low, and I’d say to her lat alone the nut in Elmond’s Wood, and not to go dancing on the wa. And never to court Jack Randall.
And I’d say I was sorry.
“But when I got to the lonesome valley down by the white oak tree…there was nobody there. And I mean nobody.”
Frenchmen are LITERALLY invading my hometown rn and I’m like, hmmm better listen to the latest Etin Hind updates from the balladeer in the town square, like that’s going to help anything lmao
I won’t deny that murders are a compelling subject, and the tune for Fair Janet is incredibly catchy. That dah-dah-dee-dah-dah part especially. But when’s the last time you saw anyone hanged under the old dule-tree? Two, three years ago? And how many people do you know personally who died of the flux this month? So where are those ballads? Why don’t those stories capture our imagination in the same way, and what does that say about our values? “Drink not the still water of the deepenin’ fen, Fair Janet, dah-dah-dee-dah-dah, or bloody red thy waste shall wen, dah-dah-dee-dah-dah.”
I’m a storyteller. And people love stories. They’re curious about why twa sisters do what they do, about why parson’s daughters go out a-ridin’ despite the pleas from their mothers dear, about why Sweet William won’t return before midnight or at all. You know? We hear that when nine months were come and gane that the ladye’s face turned pale and wane – we hear that, and we want to know why.
I guess the question is, do people really think that keeping up with every new murder ballad project is actually going to make them safer? When’s the last time you invited Young Hunting into a bedchamber guarded by your seven brothers? Never, right? So what’s really going on? Who’s benefiting from this? The bedchamber-guarding industry? Because it sure as hell didn’t benefit Fair Janet, to say nothing of all the other Janets, with rougher hands and bigger pores.
“So she said, ‘Oh, he’s gone riding to Clyde Water, maybe he drowned therein or something,’ but that didn’t make any sense, because he was due to ride at the King’s side that selfsame morning with his broadsword and his cloak so green. It just didn’t sound like him. The Tom Dooley I know never goes anywhere if he thinks it’ll make him late to ride by the king’s side.”