|Illustration by Arthur Rackham of The Twa Corbies|
The Wikipedia article on Murder Ballads is pretty short, but sums the whole thing up fairly well, and if you want to read more, many were collected and researched by some fellow called Francis J. Childs (1825-1896), and published many years ago as the Child Ballads (wiki).
It’s not a subject I can pretend to know much about, but I do know what I like, and simple grim tunes about death seem to be right up my street. And I’m not the only one. Look at the popularity of hip hop, from N.W.A. to whoever the kids are bumping to nowadays; swearing, and rip=rapping about guns, n all that.
For all the right reasons I have collected together a huge swathe of YouTube videos representing many different Murder Ballads, and of course including two tracks from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Murder Ballads album. Gorge yourself to death on all that follows: