Monday, April 11, 2016

The Story Behind “The Ballad of Frankie Silver”

    “This dreadful, dark and dismal day
    Has swept my glories all away,
    My sun goes down, my days are past,
    And I must leave this world at last.

    Oh! Lord, what will become of me?
    I am condemned you all now see,
    To heaven or hell my soul must fly
    All in a moment when I die.”

“The Ballad of Frankie Silver” was supposedly penned in 1833 by a young woman awaiting execution for her husband’s murder. According to some accounts, Silver sang the song as her final statement from the gallows. Today, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction; the lyrics weren’t made widely available until 50 years after the fact, when they were printed in a local newspaper. One hundred and eighty-three years after that, folk singers still perform the sad tale of Frankie Silver, the teenager who killed her husband with an axe in 1831. Read the real story behind the song in an article I wrote for mental_floss.

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