Murder Ballads – Folk Music For Halloween

Before horror films or even scary novels existed to frighten us and warn us not to wander alone into the dark woods, folk songs were being sung that did the same thing. Such songs were sung to children as a way to warn them of dangerous people and to illustrate for them what happens to people who do bad things. These songs express the deep fascination we have with the dark and ugly side of humanity.  In songs known as “Murder Ballads”, things like infanticide, incest, and hanging are often the subjects. I’ve included two such songs below. The first is called, “Weile, Weile (The River Saile).” It’s performed by Jesse Ferguson, a Canadian folk singer and You Tuber from whom I’ve learned dozens of songs from Newfoundland, Ireland, and Scotland.  The second song is called “The Well Below The Valley” and I find it hauntingly beautiful and really fucked up at the same time. Listen carefully to the lyrics so you get the whole picture of what the song’s about.

4 thoughts on “Murder Ballads – Folk Music For Halloween

  1. Awesome! I cannot begin to describe what a hopeless fan i am of European fairytales… the dark ones, the real ones. No whiny, pathetic Dorothy there.

    More of this would be great!


    • I will do more on this. I’ll write on American folk songs that fit this genre too, such as “My Darling Clementine,” a song about the San Francisco gold rush era. You’d think Edgar Allen Poe must have written it if you didn’t know better. Dark, morbid lyrics about the realities of the time.


  2. No sound on the first one. Second one bedeviling strange. Agree on music meant to scare fear into folks — just watched The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, Disney version!, family tradition each 10/31. It has the great song, Headless Horseman.


    • I’m getting sound on it, so this is proof The Nobel Prize Committee is fucking with me again! I’m going to make them pay!!!! Try it again. If it doesn’t work for you, look up Jesse Ferguson and check it out there. It’s a really catchy tune with a dark theme. Not one for work!


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