William's Face

February 26, 2010 6:11 PM

In which I attempt to write a new Murder Ballad.

I've covered a few Murder Ballads including one for this month's "Traditional" challenge.
With all the great renditions of various ballads trickling in this month, I thought I'd try to write my own.
As far as I can tell, the format always seems to go something like this:

-Story is told in first person past-tense by the narrator, who is also the murderer.
-Narrator perceives that he has been slighted or shamed in some way by the victim who is usually his child/girlfriend/wife.
(Or perhaps he just loves them too much.)
-Narrator leads the unsuspecting victim into the woods or "up a hill" or somewhere far away from safety.
-Sometimes victim pleads for his or her life.
-Narrator murders victim in a base fashion; there's some poetic bloodiness in the lyric.
-Someone is named "Willie."
-Body disposal, if not thrown down a well.
-Incarceration and summing up!

I did a bit of a cheat in that I didn't stick to the verses-only construct. I have a kind of pseudo-chorus after every 2 verses. So kill me.

posted by chococat (9 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, lyrics:

the light was growing dimmer with my only son behind me
through the darkest woods where people seldom roam
to the place where I would kill him
for the shame that he had brought down on our home

o my heart was feeling heavy as we walked up through the trees
but in my head I had to set things right
the boy could hardly know
it was the last time that he'd ever see the light

in the last light of the sun
I saw my beautiful young son
and I brought my shovel down upon his head
he tried to reach out for me with his crying eyes
and everything was red

"O Daddy please I'm dying,"
my sweet William tried to say
but his helpless cries were growing soft and dim
and when his cries had stopped
I picked that shovel off the ground and buried him

my wife was waiting for me as I came in from the dark
her worried face knew that I'd murdered our poor son
the only words she spoke were,
"There's a place for you in Hell for what you've done."

well I struggled through my sleepless dreams
and all the hours in between
I didn't feel the peace I thought I would
and "Willie!" I cried out until it struck me
that my boy was gone for good

now I rot in prison counting days until they kill me
for the heinous thing I wish I could erase
and the only thing that comforts me
is thinking about my boy William's face

©bgm 2010 (SOCAN, ASCAP)
posted by chococat at 6:15 PM on February 26, 2010

Really, really good. I thought the guitar playing really hit the mark for this kind of tune too. Funny observation about someone being named Willie. And, the little distant "aaah" at the end works beautifully. Great job!
posted by edlundart at 7:22 PM on February 26, 2010

This is excellent. Love it.
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 3:49 AM on February 27, 2010

This does indeed sound like it's a "standard", and that takes some doing! Overall sound is really good and a perfect fit. The subject matter is a bit disturbing though....my advice is to ease back on the Ketamine choco.....
posted by MajorDundee at 3:12 PM on February 27, 2010

Just what is it that you're trying to say about people named William? I mean, I know I got the shit end of the stick, being named William Corder, but still...
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 3:38 PM on February 27, 2010

posted by micayetoca at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2010

This is fantastic. The clarity of the singing is very unsetting, and the sparse guitar playing is truly sublime. Really, really good, man.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:57 PM on March 4, 2010

Somehow missed this until now. I am always impressed by your music, but this is the most wowed I've been by your guitar playing. It's not that what you're playing is complicated, because it's a fairly simple part - it's that it's so crisp, clean, and pitch-perfect. You have a serious talent with your professional playing and your ear for production.
posted by ORthey at 7:04 PM on March 4, 2010

I come back and listen to this sometimes, because it's so perfect.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2015

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