Long Black Veil
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|"Long Black Veil"|
|Single by Lefty Frizzell|
|B-side||"When It Rains the Blues"|
|Released||April 20, 1959 (US)|
|Recorded||March 3, 1959|
|Writer(s)||Marijohn Wilkin and Danny Dill|
|Lefty Frizzell singles chronology|
A saga song, "Long Black Veil" is told from the point of view of an executed man falsely accused of murder. He refuses to provide an alibi, since on the night of the murder he was having an affair with his best friend's wife, and would rather die and take their secret to his grave than admit the truth. The chorus describes the woman's mourning visits to his gravesite, wearing a long black veil and enduring a wailing wind.
The writers later stated that they drew on three sources for their inspiration: Red Foley's recording of "God Walks These Hills With Me", a contemporary newspaper report about the unsolved murder of a priest, and the legend of a mysterious veiled woman who regularly visited Rudolph Valentino's grave. Dill himself called it an "instant folksong."
Wilkin played piano on the original recording by Frizzell. The song was a departure from Frizzell's previous honky tonk style and was a deliberate move toward the then current popularity of folk-styled material and the burgeoning Nashville sound.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals referred to the song in the case United States v. Dayton, 604 F.2d 931, 935 n.3 (5th Cir. 1979). This case concerned the proper procedures trial court judges must take when accepting a guilty plea, and identified "the two most dangerous" pitfalls of a guilty plea as coerced pleas and ignorant pleas. In describing a modification made to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which governs acceptance of pleas, the court explained that the change required that "the defendant be made aware of what might happen as a result of his plea, and that the court be satisfied that a factual basis existed for it." It dropped a footnote at this point which stated, "This change was doubtless effected to avoid such circumstances as are recounted in 'The Long Black Veil.'"
Recorded in Nashville in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell and produced by Don Law, the single reached No. 6 on Billboard Hot C&W Sides chart. In the process, the song became Frizzell's best-performing single in five years.
Johnny Cash performed the song on the first episode of The Johnny Cash Show (TV series) in 1969, duetting with Joni Mitchell. The song has also appeared on landmark albums by Johnny Cash and The Band in 1968 (see list below), and charted again in 1999 with the Dave Matthews Band, who performed the song live with Emmylou Harris at a Johnny Cash tribute concert. Early in her career, Joan Baez incorporated the song into her live repertoire, and recorded it twice (see list below).
The song was performed by Bruce Springsteen on his 2006 Seeger Sessions Band Tour. The chorus is frequently sung by Bruce Hornsby during live performances of his song "White Wheeled Limousine", including the version on the retrospective box set Intersections (1985-2005).
Mick Jagger recorded a version with The Chieftains for that group's 1995 album of the same name. Mike Ness, principal songwriter and guitarist of punk-rock band Social Distortion, covered the song on his 1999 debut solo album Cheating at Solitaire. Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and Tony Rice cover this song on the 2000 Pizza Tapes recordings.
It has been covered by Harry Manx, including a version on the compilation Johnny's Blues: A Tribute to Johnny Cash, and in October 2009, by Rosanne Cash on her album The List. A version by Scottish rock band Nazareth was never released on an album, but is played at live concerts
On the 2011 album Rancho Alto by Jason Boland & the Stragglers, the song "False Accuser's Lament" is a follow up to "Long Black Veil'", describing a witness's view of the events and the role that he played.
Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead performed the song several times, with a variety of musicians, in his rotating line-ups of Phil Lesh and Friends at his venue Terrapin Crossroads. Jamey Johnson has covered the song on tour. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club occasionally perform the song during their live shows. The Black Crowes have covered the song, for instance during their December 17, 2010 performance at The Fillmore in San Francisco.
Tracks on hit albums
- 1962 The Kingston Trio, New Frontier - U.S. Pop album #16
- 1962 Burl Ives, The Versatile Burl Ives! - U.S. Pop album #35
- 1963 Joan Baez, Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2 - U.S. Pop album #7, U.K. album #15
- 1965 Johnny Cash, Orange Blossom Special - U.S. Pop album #49
- 1968 Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison - U.S. Pop album #13, U.S. Country album #1, U.K. album #8
- 1968 The Band, Music from Big Pink - U.S. Pop album #30
- 1970 Joan Baez, One Day at a Time - U.S. Pop album #80
- 1972 New Riders of the Purple Sage, Gypsy Cowboy - U.S. Pop album #85
- 1983 John Anderson, Wild & Blue - U.S. Pop album #58
- 1995 The Chieftains with Mick Jagger (vocal), The Long Black Veil - U.S. Pop album #22, U.K. album #17
- 1999 Mike Ness, Cheating at Solitaire - U.S. Pop album #80
- 1999 Dave Matthews Band, Listener Supported - U.S. Pop album #15
- 2015 Robert Earl Keen, Jr., Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions - U.S. Pop album #109, U.S. Top Bluegrass Albums 1, U.S. Country Albums # 10, U.S. Top Top Independent Albums # 6
||This article may contain excessive, poor, irrelevant, or self-sourcing examples. (June 2011)|
- 1960 Carl Mann, included on the 1997 compilation Rockin' Mann
- 1960 The Country Gentlemen, Country Songs, Old and New
- 1963 The Country Gentlemen, On The Road (live album)
- 1964 Jerry & Sara, Live at The Tangent, Palo Alto, CA, Jerry Garcia and his first wife Sara
- 1964 Johnny Williams and The Jokers
- 1968 The Move, The BBC Sessions
- 1968 The Wolfe Tones, The Rights of Man
- 1969 The Byrds, Live in Boston 1969, unofficial release
- 1969 The Small Faces, bootleg album, recorded live in Vienna, Austria, on 12 January 1969.
- 1970 Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, Kentucky Bluegrass
- 1971 Hank Williams, Jr., Sweet Dreams
- 1971 Marianne Faithfull, Rich Kid Blues, released in 1985
- 1980 Jimmy "Orion" Ellis, Country
- 1983 Zelenáči (Greenhorns) as "Dlouhý černý závoj" (lyrics by cs:Jan Vyčítal) on "Pod Liščí skálou"
- 1985 Baby Opaque, featuring Ian Mackaye, Fugue In Cow Minor
- 1986 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Kicking Against the Pricks
- 1988 The Proclaimers, King of the Road EP
- 1992 Michael Nesmith, Live At The Lone Star Roadhouse, bootleg recording
- 1993 Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Tony Rice, The Pizza Tapes - released in 1999
- 1995 Don Walser, The Archive Series Volume 2
- 1995 Don Williams, Borrowed Tales
- 1997 Sally Timms, Cowboy Sally
- 2002 Daryle Singletary, That's Why I Sing This Way
- 2002 Jason & the Scorchers, Wildfires + Misfires
- 2002 Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Distance Between
- 2002 Dave Matthews Band, The Gorge (6-Disc Special Edition).
- 2003 Johnny Cash, opening track on Unearthed box set released just after his death
- 2003 Deadstring Brothers, Deadstring Brothers
- 2003 Jon Langford and The Pine Valley Cosmanauts, The Executioner's Last Songs: Volume 3
- 2003 Rob Coffinshaker, "Fairytales from the Dungeon" single
- 2003 Harry Manx, Johnny's Blues: A Tribute To Johnny Cash (compilation tribute album)
- 2004 Dave Gunning and Charlie A'Court from Gunning's CD Two-Bit World
- 2005 Tim O'Brien, Fiddler's Green 
- 2005 Bruce Hornsby, Intersections (1985-2005) (cameoed in the middle of "White-Wheeled Limousine")
- 2005 Charming Hostess, Punch 
- 2006 Crooked Fingers, Like a Version 2, an Australian covers album
- 2006 Richard Hawley, B-side of "Just Like The Rain"
- 2007 Stoney LaRue, Live at Billy Bob's Texas
- 2007 David Gray,"A Thousand Miles Behind" live USA
- 2007 Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez Live From The Ruhr Triennale
- 2007 Professor Louis and the Crowmatix (The Spirit of Woodstock)
- 2007 Matt Andersen, 'Life at Liberty House'
- 2008 Diamanda Galás, Guilty Guilty Guilty
- 2009 Aunt Martha, Candymaker Tour NYC
- 2009 Razzy Bailey, Damned Good Time, (with Johnny Cash)
- 2009 Rosanne Cash (Feat. Jeff Tweedy)
- 2009 Caroline Herring, Golden Apples of the Sun
- 2012 Gregg Allman & The All Star Band, Love for Levon
- 2012 Iron & Wine
- 2014 Sarah Jackson (A cappella version)
- 2014 Carter Hulsey, Drive Out
- 2014 We Banjo 3, Gather The Good
- The Stanley Brothers
- Bobby Bare
- Chris Ledoux
- Banks & Shane
- Bob Dylan one 1997 performance available on various bootlegs
- "Rich Kid Blues". Discogs. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "Long Black Veil - Bruce Springsteen & the Seeger Sessions". YouTube. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "Nazareth - Long Black Veil (Ekaterinburg, 29.10.2008)". YouTube. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "Jamey Johnson Long Black Veil July 4th picnic at Billy Bob's Fort Worth Texas". YouTube. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "BRMC "Long Black Veil/A Fine Way To Lose" @ High Noon Saloon". YouTube. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- May 4, 1964, The Tangent, Palo Alto, CA, The Grateful Dead Family Discography, retrieved 15 June 2014
- Johnny Williams and The Jokers - The Long Black Veil, Discogs, retrieved 15 June 2014
- The Move - The BBC Sessions, Discogs, retrieved 15 June 2014
- The Byrds - Live In Boston 1969, Discogs, retrieved 15 June 2014
- Guitars 101 Forum discloses the "unnamed" track 3 of that recording. Track 3 is Long Black Veil. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- Bill Monroe And His Blue Grass Boys - Kentucky Bluegrass, Discogs, retrieved 15 June 2014
- Hank Williams Jr. With The Mike Curb Congregation, Discogs, retrieved 15 June 2014
- Baby Opaque - Fugue In Cow Minor, Discogs, retrieved 15 June 2014
- The Proclaimers - King Of The Road, Discogs, retrieved 15 June 2014
- Don Walser: Official Website, DonWalser.com, retrieved 16 June 2014
- Sally Timms - Cowboy Sally, Discogs, retrieved 16 June 2014
- Jason & The Scorchers - Wildfires + Misfires, Discogs, retrieved 18 June 2014
- Bastard Sons Of Johnny Cash - Distance Between, Discogs, retrieved 18 June 2014
- Deadstring Brothers - Deadstring Brothers, Bloodshot Records, retrieved 18 June 2014
- Jon Langford And The Pine Valley Cosmanauts, Discogs, retrieved 18 June 2014
- Rob Coffinshaker = Fairytales From The Dungeon, Discogs, retrieved 18 June 2014
- Tim O'Brien - Fiddler's Green, Discogs, retrieved 13 July 2014
- Charming Hostess - Punch, Discogs, retrieved 13 July 2014
- Various - Like A Version Two, Discogs, retrieved 6 September 2014