‘Long Black Veil’ is a rustic ballad that was written and first recorded in 1959 and nonetheless stands the hairs on the again of the neck when it’s carried out and heard, over 60 years later. Initially recorded by Lefty Frizzell as a single, it turned his most profitable tune for years, peaking at #6 on the Billboard nation charts. While this would possibly look like a middling degree accomplishment in its time, since its launch ‘LBV’ has turn out to be a stone-cold customary of nation music with myriad variations that mirror the regard that artists of all stripes have for the tune.
At its coronary heart it’s a traditional nation story tune, and a loss of life tune besides. The narrative is evident and acquainted: man wrongly accused of a homicide, refuses to supply up an alibi that may save his life as a result of he was in any other case engaged in “the arms of his finest good friend’s spouse”. Mentioned spouse says nothing too however then spends eternity mourning over her lover’s bones – thus far so ‘Nation Dying Music’ (with because of Gordon Gano). Clearly this narrative will not be a common story, we are able to’t all relate on to tales of betrayal, homicide and unjust executions. However it’s a universally resonant story and all of us have the capability to be affected by the resonances current within the many variations of the tune.
In simply 139 quick phrases the tune captures multitudes; timeless love and devotion, everlasting grief and defeat, treacherous infidelity, unbelievable humility and selflessness, hypocrisy, homicide, thriller and injustice are all addressed and mix to create an environment of profound, even wretched, anguish and pathos. It truly is as bleak because it will get, with no signal of redemption for any of these concerned. This unremitting darkness is maybe what attracts so many to the tune, and should have been the place I made my reference to it within the first occasion. This darkness has developed a lifetime of its personal, such that it has turn out to be a trope for infidelity gone improper and the disastrous penalties wrought thereby; witness the novel ‘Long Black Veil’ by Jennifer Finney Boylan that (apparently) untangles a girl’s previous and a mysterious loss of life by an examination of the key’s we hold.
‘Long Black Veil’ was written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin. Wilkin is an fascinating character in her personal proper. A profitable feminine songwriter and enterprise individual in Nashville when that was nonetheless a rarity. Long earlier than Loretta, Dolly or Bobbie Gentry took up the pen mantel she was writing profitable songs for Wanda Jackson, Jimmy C Newman and Stonewall Jackson and even had them lined by The Beatles and Rod the Mod. In addition to ‘Long Black Veil’ she is chargeable for one other out and out nation gospel traditional, within the form of “One Day at a Time”, which she co-wrote along with her protégé, mentee and good friend, Kris Kristofferson. The gradual, ballad tempo and the platonic simplicity of the tune go away infinite potentialities for interpretation inside a really tight and minimal format, maybe why it’s such a broadly lined tune.
The quantity and assortment of covers is approach past the scope of this piece however, starting from genius Greenwich folky Fred Neil, by The Byrds, Michael Nesmith and Richard Hawley to outliers reminiscent of Nick Cave and Paul Westerberg ‘Long Black Veil’ by no means loses its essence, irrespective of who’s enjoying it. Maybe probably the most well-known model is Johnny Money’s from the ‘Orange Blossom Particular’ LP, but it’s Frizzell’s authentic recording of the tune, which was included within the Nationwide Recording Registry by the Library of Congress due to it was deemed “culturally, traditionally, or aesthetically vital and/or inform or mirror life in america”.
It’s due to this fact Frizzell’s authentic that we provide right here, with a twist. Following his model is an ‘reply’ model by Wilkin herself, reflecting the attitude of the grieving girl who “Walks these hills in a Long Black Veil”.