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Audio CD, April 17, 2015
Wild Bill Jones (3:15)
Silver Jack (4:01)
Sam Hall (3:30)
Louis Collins (3:11)
The Days of Forty-Nine (2:56)
Casey Jones (3:05)
The Battle of New Orleans (3:30)
John Hardy (3:13)
Tom Bolyn (3:01)
Total running time, 38 minutes
“Rogues” is a series of character portraits commemorating larger than life people.
“Wild Bill Jones” is the story of a young cowboy shot in his prime by his older rival, who muses on his way to the prison farm.
“Delia” is a famous old blues tune, depicting the murder of Delia Green in Savannah, Georgia on December 24, 1900. She was only 14.
“Silver Jack” was a popular song among the lumbermen in the camps near Saginaw, as well as among the canal-diggers in Old Mexico.
“Sam Hall” was originally “Jack Hall,” after an English thief hanged in 1701 at Tyburn. He’s an unrepentant criminal, condemned to death, speaking from the gallows.
“Louis Collins” is a John Hurt song, first recorded in 1928. He wrote the lyrics based on an account of a murder.
“Days of Forty-Nine” is a mining ballad, about the characters “in the days of old when we dug up the gold.” It was first published in 1874 in the Great Emerson’s New Popular Songster.
“Casey Jones” is one of the most popular American railroad ballads, existing in many forms. It’s about the death in 1900 of Jonathan Luther Jones, a railroader from Jackson, Tennessee.
“Arkansas” is a bound for prison song by Henry Thomas (1874-1930), also known as “Ragtime Texas.” He recorded 23 sides for Vocalion Records between 1927 and 1929.
“Frankie” is another well-known ballad, also known as “Frankie and Albert” or “Frankie and Johnnie.” It may refer to a murder in St. Louis in 1899, in which 22-year old Frankie Baker shot her 17-year old lover Allen “Albert” Britt. The “other woman” is alternately referred to as “Nelly Bly” and “Alice Fry.”
“The Battle of New Orleans”: A rather comical account of the final major battle of the war of 1812, this song was written by Jimmy Driftwood and popularized in a 1959 recording by Johnny Horton. The melody is based on a popular fiddle tune called “The 8th of January.”
“John Hardy” is based on the life of a West Virginia railroad worker. He killed a man during a card game and was hanged in 1894. The earliest known recording of this song was in 1924. Not to be confused with John Henry, the railroad worker who “died with his hammer in his hand.”
“Tom Bolyn” is a ballad of a Scotsman who’s a little rough at the edges. One writer opines that this song originates in a 1565 play called “The Longer Thou Livest, The More Fool Thou Art.”
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