They Never Found Her Head

August 14, 2008 10:04 PM

A new song. An uncommonly bleak and maudlin crime tale.

I am aware that when you find yourself writing a song called "They Never Found her Head," you should probably stop what you're doing and reconsider. And not simply reconsider the lyrics, or the song itself. I mean you should reconsider what you're doing with your life. You should drag yourself away from the ukulele and over to a nearby mirror and look at yourself, shaken and ashen, wondering how things went so wrong.

You should; I don't. I suppose I've always like the grimness of some old country songs, which don't shy away from grotesque details. Some early country is taken straight from news stories of local tragedies, and, back in the middle part of the century, newspapers had no problem publishing lurid photographs coupled with pathetic text, telling tales of small lives and early, violent ends. I have quite a few books of photographs from the era, and they are startling both in their immediacy and their intimacy. We often see the dead photographed shortly after their death, at the place they fell, unflattering and invasive as such an image might be. I guess this is the lyrical version of such a story, and, in keeping with country's longstanding tradition of telling sad tales, I have tried to make it as sad as possible.


They never found her head
They never found her head
There was only a ring to identify her
In the place where she lay dead

The place where she lay dead
The place where she lay dead
They found the a letter she was writing him
But they never found her head

She'd moved to the city from Omaha
Only three years ago
She didn't have enough money to make it there
But she had too little to go
She sent postcards home every month
And she lied on every one
Telling of jobs she'd never had
And of things she'd never done

He visited her once a year ago
And said she didn't look well
She was living with two girls in one bedroom
In a residence hotel
They talked for a while over fast food fries
Of the times that they once knowed
The next day he rode a Greyhound home
As she watched him from the road

It was two am when the call came in
It was five when it made the news
But it took two weeks for word to get to him
Along with her ring, her dress, her shoes
There was a letter packed with her effects
And it's first word was goodbye
It said I know I'll probably die out here
But we all someday die

posted by Astro Zombie (1 comment total)

This is really grim, but I think it works. This is the kind of song that would silence a loud bar, and mostly in a powerful "wow, that just punched me in the gut" kind of way.

By frontloading the tnfhhs, I think you set up the expectation that the song was going to be more cartoon-y in the way that it is macabre. But instead, you really humanized her. This is one that really sticks with you after you listen to it.
posted by umbĂș at 6:53 PM on August 22, 2008

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