105 To Die for Murder Ballads

Updated on July 11, 2020
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FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

Make a murder ballad songlist of pop, rock, country, hip-hop and folk tunes that is a real scream. These songs tell the story of death and sometimes they are based on true accounts.
Make a murder ballad songlist of pop, rock, country, hip-hop and folk tunes that is a real scream. These songs tell the story of death and sometimes they are based on true accounts. | Source

A Songlist That's a Sure Scream

Homicide. What a topic for a song! Murder ballads typically tell a story about a crime or grisly death, often including the surrounding context of events. Modern songs tend to involve fictionalized stories and motives, including domestic violence, revenge for adultery, or just plain meanness.

Some of these fierce songs are inspired by real events, however. Murder ballads have historical roots in the Appalachian United States and Europe, with older, historical ballads typically being based upon true accounts. As oral history, their words evolve over time and depart from the original facts. Whereas the victims and circumstances of modern murder ballads are more diverse, traditional murder ballads depict young pregnant women as the most frequent victims of the baby's father. Songs may be sung from the victim's or killer's perspective.

Make a playlist of pop, rock, country, and folk murder ballads. This list of songs really slays!

1. "Church Bells" by Carrie Underwood

The rich oilman who married poor Jenny should've thought twice before he raised a hand to her. Perhaps he'd still be alive.

The pretty little backwoods gal in this 2016 country song cleaned up real purty, and the couple had everyone in town fooled thinking they were Barbie and Ken. But behind closed doors, the husband was just another abusive drunk. Jenny hid her bruises behind dark sunglasses and makeup; no one in the Junior League questioned her injuries. Then one night she added a little bonus to his drink: untraceable poison. Who's sorry now?

2. "Independence Day" by Martina McBride

If you've ever mistaken this firecracker of a country song for a patriotic anthem, then you're not alone. Sean Hannity used it as his radio show's theme song and Sarah Palin used it as a walk-on song at the 2008 Vice Presidential debate. In reality, this 1994 tune tells the tale of domestic violence from the perspective of a child. (Slow cringe.)

The narrator recalls how on one Fourth of July morning her beleaguered mother sent her to the county fair, and while she was there the mother burned down the family home with her abusive alcoholic father in it. The murder was a day of independence for both the mother (whom Martina McBride says did not die in the fire) and the daughter who was sent to the county home:

Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today
Is a day of reckoning.
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay
It's Independence Day.

3. "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" by Reba McEntire

In 1972, Vicki Lawrence became a one-hit wonder with this Southern Gothic country/pop crossover song. However, I prefer the 1992 cover version by Reba McEntire.

A Georgia woman relates the dark story of how her older brother went down for a murder he didn't commit. The nameless "Brother" was returning from two weeks away from home when he stopped by a local bar for a drink. While there, his best friend Andy revealed that Brother's young wife was away from home that night cheating and that the young woman had been seeing "that Amos boy, Seth." Andy confessed that he had even been with her himself.

Brother headed home to an empty house to get a gun and assumed his bride had fled town. Then the distraught Brother proceeded to Andy's house, where he found his frenemy, Andy, in a pool of blood. He fired a shot to flag down the sheriff's deputy on patrol, but the police jumped to the conclusion that Brother was guilty. In an unbelievably swift trial, the young husband was tried and hung that night before his younger sister, the song's narrator, could reveal that she was the actual killer.

4. "Gunpowder and Lead" by Miranda Lambert

In this cooker of a country song, the wife waits by the door in the dark and lights a cigarette. She's armed with a loaded shotgun and intends to even the score with her husband once he makes bail and returns home. Lambert's 2008 song was inspired by childhood memories of her parents sheltering abused women, even sharing her own bedroom with a battered mother and her daughter at one time.

5. "I Shot the Sheriff" by Eric Clapton

Somebody get this guy a lawyer quick. The narrator in this 1974 soft rock song with a reggae vibe has already confessed to murdering Sheriff John Brown.

He claims the lawman always had it out for him and he had to kill the sheriff in self-defense. The narrator insists, however, that he did not kill the deputy. So who did? Eric Clapton's version of the song is a cover of Bob Marley's original. Clapton's rendition was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

6. "Goodbye Earl" by Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks manage to make murder humorous in this 2000 country ditty about two old high school BFFs, Mary Anne and Wanda. While Mary Anne went out into the world to pursue her dreams, Wanda remained in her hometown and married Earl, an abusive loser. Wanda eventually filed for divorce, but "Earl walked right through that restraining order and put her in intensive care." The old friends reunite (because that's what best friends are for, right?) and together they hatch a plan: Earl has to die.

The girls lure wicked old Earl to his final resting place with some poisoned black-eyed peas. Then they wrap him up in a tarp and stuff him in a trunk. It couldn't happen to a better guy. Goodbye, Earl!

7. "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" by The Killers

There ain't no motive for this crime
Jenny was a friend of mine

This chilling 2004 alt-rock tune is inspired by a real-life convicted killer, Robert Chambers, tagged as the Preppy Killer. He pleaded guilty to strangling 18-year-old Jennifer Levin, claiming that the death was an accidental consequence of rough sex. Chambers was released from prison in 2003.

The third installment in The Killers' murder song trilogy, this tune features a murderer being interrogated at length by the police. He offers up a cryptic, twisted account of the crime ("She couldn't scream while I held her close") and acknowledges he knows his rights. Justifying his innocence by alleging they were friends, the guy clearly isn't firing on all cylinders.

8. "Nebraska" by Bruce Springsteen

This 1982 Springsteen number will give you chills, especially once you know the backstory. The dark song is based on the true tale of a ruthless killing spree committed by two teens, 19-year-old Charles Starkweather and his 14-year-old girlfriend, accomplice Caril Ann Fugate. They shot, strangled, and stabbed 11 innocent people in Wyoming over an 8-day period in 1958. Starkweather was executed. Fugate, the youngest female to date to have been tried for first-degree murder in the US, served a lengthy prison sentence, then was released on parole, subsequently marrying and working as a hospital janitor.

The chilling song is told from the perspective of an unremorseful Starkweather who gives an overview of the couple's crimes. As he sits in the electric chair waiting for the executioner to pull the switch, he expresses that at least for a while he and Fugate had some fun and that she should be with him on his lap as he is put to death. The song's narrator justifies the killing spree by invoking a line reminiscent of A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Conner's short story: "Well, sir, I guess there's just a meanness in this world."

9. "Henry Lee" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey

This unsettling tune is a variation of the traditional Scottish folk song, "Young Hunting." The 1996 ditty depicts a lass who goes medieval on a man when he rebuffs her advances. She implores him to spend the night with her, but he responds that he loves a more beautiful woman.

Jealousy quickly takes hold, and the broken-hearted lady takes a pen-knife and stabs him to death. He subsequently disposes of the corpse in a well 100 feet deep. The woman expresses zero remorse:

Lie there, lie there, little Henry Lee
'Til the flesh drops from your bones
For the girl you have in that merry green land
Can wait forever for you to come home
And the wind did howl, and the wind did moan.

Throughout the song, the narrator is taunted by a little bird. The "La la la la la" will leave you hearing it long after the song is over. "Henry Lee" is part of an entire album on murder, Murder Ballads by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

10. "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's career took an edgier turn with this dark 1988 pop number in which an onlooker sees that a smooth criminal has broken into Annie's apartment and attacked her. The man spots bloodstains on her carpet then tracks the path of Annie's demise before coming across her lifeless body.

Repeatedly, the narrator asks, "Annie, are you okay?" but it's clear that Annie is not. This refrain was inspired by the CPR training dummy, Resusci Anne. Trainees in CPR classes are taught to ask the victim whether they are okay.

11. "I Hung My Head" by Johnny Cash

This 2002 country cover by Johnny Cash is a cover of Sting's tune about murder, guilt, justice, and (alas) redemption. Having borrowed his brother's rifle, a man sits on a hill one morning and points it at a stranger atop a horse. The gun discharges and kills the rider. The man flees and disposes of the rifle in the river, but he is apprehended by the sheriff and subsequently tried by a jury.

As he faces the jury, the begs forgiveness. Then, as the condemned soul later awaits the gallows up on the hill he sees the semblance of the man he murdered:

And we'll ride together
To kingdom come.

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow, American lawyer
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow, American lawyer | Source

12. "Devil's Right Hand" by Steve Earle

When the narrator in this 1988 country song was a boy he became intrigued with guns and didn't listen when his mama attempted to quell his interest. "Mama said the pistol is the devil's right hand." As a young adult, the fella shoots a man to death when his friend cheats at a card game. In his own defense, he repeats the same line his mother told him which amounts to a flimsy insanity defense.

13. "Delilah" by Tom Jones

This creepy 1968 power ballad has become a signature song of Tom Jones, telling the story of a man who spots his girlfriend making love to another man as he walks by her window. Out of his mind with jealousy and anger, he waits and watches all night to confront her in the morning.

Cheating Delilah simply laughs in his face. Enraged, he stabs her to death. As he waits for the police to break down the door and arrest him, the narrator begs the dead woman for her forgiveness.

Jones is a Welsh singer, and this murder ballad is frequently sung at Welsh rugby matches, becoming an unofficial second national anthem. Some people, however, have called for the practice to stop because the song glamorizes violence against women. What do you think?

"It is only in love and murder that we still remain sincere." - Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Swiss writer
"It is only in love and murder that we still remain sincere." - Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Swiss writer | Source

14. "Delia's Gone" by Johnny Cash

Poor Delia Green was a poor Black 14-year-old girl who was shot to death on Christmas Eve 1900 by her drunk 15-year-old boyfriend, Moses “Cooney” Houston during a lover's quarrel. She is buried in an unmarked grave in Savannah, Georgia. Houston served only 12 years in jail for her murder.

Since Delia's death, murder ballads have provided accounts of her demise from both the victim's perspective and the killer's. Over the years, singers have taken liberties with the facts surrounding her death, with some of the versions blaming Delia for her own murder. Johnny Cash's 1962 country version, for example, inserts an explanation that Delia was a cold, mean, and evil woman. His cover song has the narrator tying poor Delia to the chair in the parlor and deliberately shooting her multiple times—not in a heat of passion but because she was devilish. No excuse, Johnny.

15. "Two Black Cadillacs" by Carrie Underwood

Two scorned women team up to bury the man who dared to deceive them both in this deliciously wicked 2012 country ditty. It was only two months ago that the wife called an unfamiliar number on her husband's cell phone. She reached his mistress, who should have known she was getting sloppy seconds when it came to love.

The women compared notes. However, instead of turning on one another, they conspired to get even with the two-timing man they unwittingly shared. At the funeral, they went through the motions of grieving as the preacher and the dead man's brother sang his praises.

16. "The Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks

You may not know that this uncharacteristically dark Garth Brooks song from 1990 is a murder ballad. That's because there are two versions, an edited-for-radio version that deletes the fourth stanza referencing murder and the extended version from the No Fences album. Brooks usually performs the longer version in concert.

The protagonist in the song is a wife who anxiously waits for her cheating husband to return home as a nasty thunderstorm rages outside. It's 3:30 a.m., and she's been praying for his safety all night. But as he pulls into the driveway, she runs to greet him, and her relief quickly turns to feelings of fury and betrayal as she catches a whiff of another woman's perfume. The thunder rolls both between them and above in the skies.

Here is the murder stanza:

She runs back down the hallway, and through the bedroom door
She reaches for the pistol, kept in the dresser drawer
Tells the lady in the mirror, "He won't do this again"
'Cause tonight will be the last time she'll wonder where he's been.

Several country video outlets (CMT and TNN) banned the video for "The Thunder Rolls" at the time because of the domestic violence references.

17. "Hazard" by Richard Marx

In this 1991 pop song, tongues are wagging all over town blaming the narrator for murdering his missing girlfriend. The townsfolk of Hazard, Nebraska have always looked at him with suspicion, often commenting, "that boy's not right." His girlfriend of three years, Mary, saw the man within—that is, until she took a walk alone by the river and never returned home. Now everyone's looking at him for answers and his reaction is to skip town. (Don't be suspicious.)

18. "Brenda's Got a Baby" by Tupac Shakur (featuring Dave Hollister and Roniece Levias)

The protagonist of this 1991 hip-hop number is 12-year-year-old Brenda, a girl who already has no future. It goes from bad to worse when her own cousin takes advantage of her and knocks her up. Brenda lives on the wrong side of town with a drug-addicted dad and an unsupportive family that doesn't notice the girl's growing waistline.

After the preteen delivers the baby alone on the bathroom floor, she disposes of it on a trash heap, later retrieving the infant when it cries. Her mother rebukes her and Brenda runs away as a result, scared and unable to support herself. In an attempt to make ends meet any way she can, the adolescent sells drugs. After getting robbed she turns to prostitution. Finally, Brenda's body is found lifeless. A child herself, this murder victim was someone's mother.

"We only get one life. Wasting someone's time is the subtlest form of murder." - Lindy West, American writer
"We only get one life. Wasting someone's time is the subtlest form of murder." - Lindy West, American writer | Source

19. "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." by Sufjan Stevens

John Wayne Gacy Jr. was the most prolific serial killer known to date and is memorialized in this creepy 2005 indie rock song fictionalizing his life. Gacy adopted the persona of a killer clown, Pogo or Patches the Clown. He joined a local "Jolly Joker" club and provided entertainment at hospitals, kids' parties, and charity events. Then the savage Bozo wannabe brutally violated and murdered 33 young men and boys before being executed in 1994. Gacy was nicknamed "The Killer Clown."

The song takes liberties with Gacy's life, imagining that he was hit in the head as a child. It portrays him deceptively earning his community's respect and also eerily foreshadows a Gacy copycat, a killer clown with hidden bodies under his floorboards.

20. "Darkness" by Eminem

This powerful 2020 track by rapper Eminem features lyrics with a message. At the beginning, it purposefully creates a double meaning by juxtaposing two very different images: the singer as he nervously prepares for a concert and a mass shooter preparing to open fire. Later in the song it becomes clear that this is from the perspective of the mass murderer who gunned down 58 innocent people in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

The video, but not the song, ends with a call to action: "When will it end? When enough people care. Register to vote at vote.gov. Make your voice heard and help change the gun laws in America."

"My husband and I have never considered divorce -- murder sometimes, but not divorce." - Dr. Joyce Brothers, American psychologist
"My husband and I have never considered divorce -- murder sometimes, but not divorce." - Dr. Joyce Brothers, American psychologist | Source

Even More Murder Ballads

Song
Artist(s)
Year Released
21. Janie's Got a Gun
Aerosmith
1989
22. Cedartown, Georgia
Waylon Jennings
1971
23. Long Black Veil
Johnny Cash
1965
24. Kerosene
Miranda Lambert
2005
25. Knoxville Girl
The Louvin Brothers
1956
26. Ballad of Hollis Brown
Rise Against
2013
27. If It Hadn't Been for Love
The SteelDrivers
2008
28. Dirty Knife
Neko Case
2006
29. Used to Love Her
Guns N' Roses
1987
30. L.A. County
Lyle Lovett
1987
31. Johnny 99
Bruce Springsteen
1982
32. Shallow Grave
The Steel Drivers
2013
33. I Kept Her Heart
The Pine Box Boys
2005
34. Where the Wild Roses Grow
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (featuring Kylie Minogue)
1996
35. When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below)
Johnny Horton
1959
36. Down By the Water
PJ Harvey
1995
37. Let Him Dangle
Elvis Costello
1989
38. Banks of the Ohio
Olivia Newton-John
1971
39. Bohemian Rhapsody
Queen
1975
40. Papa Loved Mama
Garth Brooks
1991
41. Cocaine Blues
Johnny Cash
1968
42. Georgia Lee
Tom Waits
1999
43. Red Headed Stranger
Willie Nelson
1975
44. Cold Hard Facts of Life
Porter Waggoner
1967
45. Blood on the Floor
Fleetwood Mac
1970
46. Hey Joe
Jimi Hendrix
1967
47. Lookout, Lookout
Perfume Genius
2010
48. Stagger Lee
Lloyd Price
1959
49. Don't Break the Code
The Oak Ridge Boys
1986
50. El Paso
Marty Robbins
1959
51. Tom Dooley
The Kingston Trio
1958
52. Evil
Interpol
2004
53. Frankie's Man, Johnny
Johnny Cashe
1959
54. Man Down
Rihanna
2011
55. In Hell I'll Be in Good Company
The Dead South
2014
56. Mack the Knife
Bobby Darrin
1959
57. Shankill Butchers
The Decemberists
2006
58. Country Death Song
Violent Femmes
1984
59. '97 Bonnie & Clyde
Eminem
1999
60. Billy Paul
Vince Gill
2011
61. Dreaming
Trainwreck
2005
62. Me and Billy the Kid
Joe Ely
1987
63. Poor Ellen Smith
Neko Smith
2015
64. Folsom Prison Blues
Johnny Cash
1955
65. Down in the Willow Garden (Rose Connelly)
Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones
2013
66. Wrong 'Em Boyo
The Clash
1979
67. Dark Lady
Cher
1973
68. The Rake's Song
The Decemberists
2009
69. Pumped Up Kicks
Foster the People
2010
70. I Used to Love Her
Guns N' Roses
1987
71. Stan
Eminem
2000
72. Ramones
Love Kills
1986
73. Sniper
Harry Chapin
1973
74. (Pardon Me) I've Got Someone to Kill
Johnny Paycheck
1966
75. I Never Told You What I Do for a Living
My Chemical Romance
2004
76. Heavy in Your Arms
Florence + the Machine
2009
77. Miss Otis Regrets
Bette Midler
1990
78. Midnight Rambler
The Rolling Stones
1969
79. Between the River and Me
Tim McGraw
2007
80. The Snakes Crawl Out at Night
Charley Pride
1966
81. Down the River
Chris Knight
2001
82. Psycho
Elvis
1989
83. Long Black Highway
Chris Knight
2003
84. A Night to Remember
SheDAISY
1999
85. Cold Cold Earth
Allison Moorer
2000
86. The Night Will Only Know
Garth Brooks
1993
87. I Killed Sally's Lover
The Avett Brothers
2003
88. The Little Girl
John Michael Montgomery
2000
89. Run Joey Run
David Geddes
1975
90. Blood Red and Goin' Down
Tanya Tucker
1973
91. Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses)
Dwight Yoakum
1988
92. Copacabana
Barry Manilow
1978
93. Johnny 99
Bruce Springsteen
1982
94. Bible By the Bed
Cadillac Sky
2008
95. Buford Stick (The Legend of Buford Pusser)2008
Drive-By Truckers
2004
96. Oxford Girl
Oysterband
1987
97. Pretty Polly
Ralph Stanley and Patty Lovely
1991
98. The Hanging Tree
James Newton Howard (featuring Jennifer Lawrence)
2014
99. Twa Sisters
Emily Portman
2010
100. Caleb Meyer
Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
1998
101. Bobby
Reba McEntire
1991
102. I've Gotta Get a Message to You
Bee Gees
1968
103. Indiana Wants Me
R. Dean Taylor
1970
104. The Night Chicago Died
Paper Lace
1974
105. Radio Lover
George Jones
1989
Know a song that should be on this murder ballad playlist? Make a suggestion in the Comments Section below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 FlourishAnyway

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      7 days ago

      It is strange.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 days ago from USA

      Bob - I've had strange glitches like that happen as well on occasion.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      9 days ago

      A strange thing happened. A post I wrote for this one landed in the hurricane article.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 days ago from USA

      Bob - Thanks for the suggestion which I added. I hadn't heard of this song.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      11 days ago

      Would "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace fall into this category?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 weeks ago from USA

      Bob - Thanks for these two additions. I also added R. Dean Taylor to the list of 1970s one hit wonders.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      3 weeks ago

      How did I forget this one, "Indiana Wants Me" by R. Dean Taylor. Then there is "I've Got to Get a Message to You" by Bee Gees.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 weeks ago from USA

      BBYCGN - Ha, glad you thought this really slayed. Have an awesome week.

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      BBYCGN 

      4 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Ha ha... the “divorce meme” was funny.

      I love the song, “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia”, and “I shot the Sheriff”. There are several other songs listed, on here, that I enjoy, too!

      Anyway, killer post, Flourish!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 weeks ago from USA

      Nithya - I'm glad you learned something. This was very enjoyable to put together. Have a wonderful week ahead.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 weeks ago from Dubai

      It is amazing that there are so many songs about murder. There are so many songs on this list that I have heard and never did connect it with murder!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 weeks ago from USA

      Bob - Thanks for the suggestion. I didn't know that about that song.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 weeks ago from USA

      Rajan - It's unfortunate that there are so many about this topic, but especially for the ones that are based on real ones, they keep what happened alive rather than letting the horror be buried. Thanks for reading.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      5 weeks ago

      A great list of murder set to music. What about what may be the ultimate song of remorseless murder, "He had it coming"? Not one for your list but "Maniac", the theme song from "Flashdance" was originally was supposed to be a song about a maniac killer.

    • profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 weeks ago

      It seems surprising to me to see so many songs devoted to the topic of homicide. You have a fine list here.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Clive - Thanks

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Peggy - Happy Memorial Day to you as well. It's amazing how many songs there are on the topic. There were a lot I didn't include as well. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Happy Memorial Day to you. I never realized that there were as many songs about this topic. There were a few that I recognized out of this long list.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Dora - Many of these mention regret. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week ahead. Stay healthy and happy.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Murder happens so, in your attempt to include every aspect of life, your lists had to mention it at one time or another. I guess that in singing about, the gruesome facts don't hit as hard. At least, I hope so. I admire your work.

    • profile image

      Clive Williams 

      6 weeks ago

      Interesting List.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      MG - Thank you for the kind comment. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh 

      7 weeks ago from Singapore

      I Shudder when I think of homicide but I am fascinated by stories. What a collection. Your brain is a computer to think out all these songs. Great collection.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Linda - That’s one of the big things that appeals to me about writing about popular music. People (including me) often don’t listen or maybe process the song lyrics to their favorite songs and when we stop to think about what they are saying it can be shocking, philosophically deep, politically astute, etc. The lyrics can really make you think at times. Thanks for reading!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      There are some gruesome stories in this article! I have to admit that as a child in Wales, I liked "Delilah" by Tom Jones. I didn't listen to most of the lyrics, though, and I didn't realize that a murder was involved. Now I'm wondering about what I missed in some of the other songs that I liked!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Bill - A lot of people don't pay attention to song lyrics. Thanks for playing along! Glad you didn't have the same reaction as George, LOL. Have a great holiday weekend, and stay safe.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      George - I surely didn't expect that reaction.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Doris - I'm glad you enjoyed this and discovered a new song that you connected with. Perhaps if and when you are ready, you might write informatively or creatively about your earlier life experience. My mother faced a domestic abuser in her first marriage and my grandmother did as well (they each fell in love with men who turned out to be mean drunks). Their experiences have made me a very no-nonsense gal when it comes to partners with anger or substance abuse issues or violence.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Heidi - It was sad to learn some of the real stories behind the songs. Some of the cases I read about were really shocking as well but didn't rise to murder and thus didn't make this list. Many were covered by lots of different artists. I did see that Elvis covered Frankie & Johnny, It's always hard to know who to pick under such circumstances. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great holiday weekend and stay safe.

    • GeorgeXu profile image

      George Xu 

      7 weeks ago from Philippines

      You horrify me.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Shannon - Thank you for that addition. I've never heard that one! Have a great holiday weekend and stay safe.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Flourish, I am amazed at how many songs there are about murder. What’s funny is that some of these songs I am familiar with, but had no idea they were about murder. Guess I don’t pay attention to the lyrics sometimes. Great job.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      7 weeks ago from Beautiful South

      Flourish, I had a ball going through your murder songs. I was already familiar with a number of them, but I'd never heard the Dixie Chicks' Earls Got to Die. I think that's my favorite. Now I can relate to your no. 2, Independence Day, but I guess any woman who's had an abusive alcoholic husband can. But it scared the hell out of me when I realized I'd found the perfect way to do it without putting any suspicion on myself. Being a good little Baptist girl back then I was too afraid of going to hell, so I couldn't pull it off. LOL But it worked itself out. He went on a rampage and kicked me out, and then Karma took over. Maybe I should write a song about that. I'm not a poet, so I guess I won't. Thanks for a good walk down a dark alley.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      7 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Dang, girl! Goin' to the dark side. These are real story songs.

      Johnny Cash's version of Frankie & Johnny is a classic. Did you also see Elvis covered it?

      Anyway, have a great Memorial Day weekend!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      7 weeks ago from Texas

      Funny you published this today. I was just listening to "Bobby" by Reba McEntire.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      James - Thanks. It was a real scream to put together.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Devika - I'm happy that you enjoyed this. It was a lot of fun to put together.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Sankhajit - Thanks

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Pamela - I think the country music connection is because the murder ballads have origins in the Appalachian US. I'm glad you enjoyed this!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Louise - Thank you for your kind comment. That one's on there at #51.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Kyler - I tried to specifically exclude songs that involve extensive profanity, were too graphic, and/or didn't describe a murder (e.g., instead described another type of death). Lots of metal and hip hop songs just went too far for general audiences. I appreciate your thoughtful, insightful comment. Thanks for stopping by!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Ann - I'm not so much a Tom Jones fan either but that song is pretty exciting. It's a very odd fit for Welch rugby matches. I think they're just proud of Jones but my goodness, couldn't they pick something else?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      John - I was astounded how many were out there! Thanks for the kind kudos.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Liz - Isn't it a scream how many are out there on this topic? Thanks for the kind compliment.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Bill - It's actually on there! Glad you got a few!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      You have found another very unique topic - "Murder Ballads", to write about today. I didn't expect this vast number of songs about this topic and the bulk of the featured songs were country.

      I only found a couple of songs that were unfamiliar to me. This was a very good article, Flourish. I enjoyed all of the ballads.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 

      7 weeks ago from The Great Midwest

      Killer list. I gotta think Bob Marley's " I Shot the Sheriff" would be in the rock and roll Hall of fame if Eric Clapton's cover is there. Another creative spin on songs

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      FlourishAnyway this is a well informed hub on these songs. Bruce Springsteen among my favorites here and such a great singer he is. Your list is entertaining and unique to me. I enjoy music and reading your hub makes me know more of other songs.

    • Sankhajit Bhattacharjee profile image

      Sankhajit Bhattacharjee 

      7 weeks ago from MILWAUKEE

      knowing interesting facts

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      7 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      There's some really good songs in the list, Flourish. Definitely the Johnny Cash ones. And of course there's "Tom Dooley" by The Kingston Trio in the 60's. It could be in your list though and I've missed it.

    • Kyler J Falk profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      7 weeks ago from Corona, CA

      I was surprised to see that "Dance With the Devil" by Immortal Technique wasn't included on here until I realized none of these songs have any serious profanity in them. At least all the ones I know from this list don't.

      "Dance With the Devil" is quite the gruesome narrative, a hip hop song that really only gets more gruesome as the song goes on. The artists claim the story isn't based on any true experiences, but many say it must be.

      Interesting article!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      7 weeks ago from SW England

      You've certainly found a great selection here! I only know 2 of the main ones (I Shot the Sherriff & Delilah) - love Eric Clapton, can't stand Tom Jones! However, the stories that underlie them are great, especially the revenging mistresses/wives! I can identify with that!!

      Once again, Flourish, you've done your thorough research and come up with some goodies.

      It's great to have some distracting entertainment in these current times, so thank you!

      Ann

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      7 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow, there are certainly a lot of murder ballads to choose from, Flourish. A very popular topic for songs...it seems it may even compete with "love" as a theme. What a great list you featured here. Great job.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I got Clapton and Brooks, so I'm happy. No blanks this morning. :) What about Folsom Prison by Cash? Was that about murder? I can't remember the lyrics. Sigh!

      Have a superb weekend, my friend.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 weeks ago from UK

      I am amazed at how many songs you have managed to gather together under this heading. It's a well-organised hub using your proven formula.

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