Four Detestable Children

June 25, 2008 4:18 PM

Part of my Old Songs series, a circuslike melody from 2004 telling of little criminals.

THIS SONG WAS WRITTEN in two parts. I wrote the lyrics in about 2001, when I was editing my weekly journal of bad poetry, Doggerel, and were published there. Several years later, in 2004, I had a small apartment in Omaha and an abundance of free time, thank to being unable to find frequent work, so I put the lyrics to music.

This is a grim little story, and I think the biggest influence was a zine I used to read back in the early '90s called Murder Can Be Fun. The author, John Marr, was and is an inveterate reader, with a taste for crime and disaster stories, and I recall him doing an issue dealing with children. He wrote about several children who had been put to death, and recounted the hideous crimes that had put them on death row. In every instance, the child had just pursued an amoral curiosity, with tragic results, and the children never demonstrated any real understand of what had happened, or what was going to happen, even as they were headed to the gallows. These stories stuck with me, and, so, of course, I decided to write a rather upbeat and carnivalesque song about the subject.


Billy Murkin, sweet and mild
Once hacked to death an infant child
And then explained to officer Pruett
That he wanted to see if he could do it.

The Thomson boy had a great desire
To take a match and start a fire
All perished in the orphanage
As the wicked boy laughed and the fire raged.

The Lowells grew quite fond of tacks
Which they placed alone the railroad tracks
So they hoisted up a drum of tar
Killing all but one in the dining car.

Sammy Hawkins and his brother Pete
Thought they would catch fish to eat.
Sam set his rod down on the ground
And pushed in his brother to watch him drown.

posted by Astro Zombie (1 comment total)

Reminds me of Those Two Dreadful Children (by Cruella De Ville). (Too bad I can't find a link to that song, but it's probably on a Dr. Demento compilation.)

I like the birds in the background; nice balance to the grim lyrics.
posted by not_on_display at 1:43 PM on June 30, 2008

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