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A Dark and Bloody Record

By Steven L. Jones

Murder Ballads Old & New: A Dark and Bloody Record is an exploration of an age-old topic? our human need to document the horrors of the world around us. The murder ballad, here expanded to include songs about traumatic loss in modern variants and multiple styles, including punk, post-punk, alt-country, and folk. The book is a graveyard stroll past tombs both well-kept and half-hidden. Murder Ballads Old & New excavates facts about killers, victims, and the folkloric storytellers who disseminated their tales in song.

Author Steven L. Jones focuses the tragic ballad as “an act of remembering and a soul-reckoning with the ineffable.” Songs examined range from obscure tunes from the founding days of the United States to familiar canonical songs learned in schoolrooms and honkytonks. Jones tackles each song in a manner that’s equal parts musicological, psychosocial, and genealogical as he uncovers stories that reveal larger contexts and maps the lineages of songs and themes, forebears, and ancestors.

Murder Ballads Old & New is a compelling delve into the perennial American fascination with True Crime. Includes archival and historical black & white images.

Steven L. Jones is an artist, writer, musician, and former instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Kentucky-born, the son of a choir director and violinist, he lives with his wife Catherine and dog Mojo in his adopted hometown, Chicago. A longtime writer for magazines and online journals, including the Woody Guthrie Foundation magazine “Sing Out.” Murder Ballads Old & New is his first book.