I finally got my Murder Ballads book back into print!
November 9, 2021 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I finally got my Murder Ballads book back into print!
Unprepared to Die's 2015 Soundcheck Books' edition dropped out of print when its publisher closed up shop. That was frustrating because Soundcheck's demise happened to coincide with the book's appearance in Dolly Parton's America, which prompted quite a bit of interest in it just as there were no longer any copies to sell. Now the rights have reverted to me and I've put out a new self-published edition using the original text (with a brand-new cover). Here's a collection of the book's reviews, plus a YouTube video explaining the project's genesis and some bonus material from Billy Bragg, Mick Harvey and the other musicians I interviewed about these fascinating songs.

We've discussed my murder ballads work several times before on Metafilter, but this thread's probably the best.

Finally, here's the book's back cover blurb to give you an idea what it's all about and the approach it takes:

Cheerfully vulgar, revelling in gore, and always with an eye on the main chance, murder ballads are tabloid newspapers set to music, carrying word of the latest horrible murders to an insatiable public. Victims are bludgeoned, stabbed or shot in every verse and killers often hanged, but the songs themselves never die.

Instead they mutate, morphing to suit local place names as they criss cross the Atlantic and continue to fascinate each generation s biggest musical stars. Stagger Lee s "biographers" alone include Duke Ellington, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Dr John, The Clash and Nick Cave. No two tell his story in quite the same way.

Covering eight classic murder ballads, including Knoxville Girl , Tom Dooley and Frankie & Johnny , Paul Slade investigates the real-life murder which inspired each song and traces its musical development down the decades. Billy Bragg, The Bad Seeds' Mick Harvey, Laura Cantrell, Rennie Sparks of The Handsome Family and a host of other musicians add their own insights.
Role: Writer / Editor / Publisher.
posted by Paul Slade (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Purchased! I loved the podcast and wanted to get the book when I listened to it, so am looking forward to reading it.
posted by Peach at 7:08 AM on November 11, 2021

Oh hey, I'm never in projects but I just made my first Amazon purchase in over a year, because this looks amazing!

Merry Christmas to me.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:59 AM on December 10, 2021

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