The real St Louis gun battle behind “Duncan & Brady”
September 1, 2017 6:38 AM   Subscribe

The real St Louis gun battle behind “Duncan & Brady”
A cop called Brady drives up in his electric car, determined to kill someone. He enters a gambling joint, walks up to the barman – whose surname is Duncan – and tells him he’s under arrest. Duncan responds by shooting Brady in the chest at point-blank range, killing him instantly. The only explanation we get for any of this is that Brady’s “been on the job too long”. That’s the tale told by the classic murder ballad Duncan & Brady, and it contains a lot more truth than you might imagine. The date was October 6, 1890, and here’s what really happened.

This is yet another PlanetSlade murder ballads essay (previously 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), albeit a much shorter one than usual. It was prompted by a reader’s letter asking me to investigate the song’s background.
Role: Writer / publisher
posted by Paul Slade (1 comment total)
This project was posted to MetaFilter by mandolin conspiracy on September 20, 2017: The real St Louis gun battle behind “Duncan & Brady”

I probably should have included this in the original post, but better late then never. Here's a few YouTube links of people performing the song:

Dave von Ronk.
Leadbelly.
Bob Dylan.
Martin Simpson.
James Taylor.
Johnson Mountain boys.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:26 PM on September 2


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