Monday, October 30, 2006
Into the 'Black'
I first heard "Long Black Veil" on the Band's "Music from Big Pink." The song was a perfect, spare blend of words and music:

Ten years ago, on a cold dark night
There was someone killed 'neath the town hall light
There were few at the scene, but they all did agree
That the man who ran looked a lot like me.

The judge said, "Son, what is your alibi?"
If you were somewhere else then you won't have to die.
I spoke not a word although it meant my life
I had been in the arms of my best friend's wife.

For years, I assumed it was a traditional folk song, something out of 19th-century Appalachia. (If I ever checked the record label for a songwriting credit, I'd long since let my assumption overtake the truth.) Imagine my surprise when, years later, I found out it had been written. In 1959, yet.

Marijohn Wilkin, who co-wrote the song -- also covered by Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithfull, the Proclaimers and the Move (!), among many -- died Saturday. She was 86.

She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows and nobody sees
Nobody knows but me.

Haunting.

We're not even going to bring up Elizabeth Taylor: The Reuters article on Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe's breakup observes that winning an Oscar for best actress is bad for your relationship. No cause and effect, mind you ... or is there? Perhaps Meryl Streep and Sissy Spacek, both in long-lasting marriages, can provide counseling.
Dave Matthews Band does a great cover of this song too!!!
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