Yellow Gingham. I was watching The Smoking Room, and in the first episode they are trying to remember how the theme to Little House on the Prairie went, and one of the characters mentioned that the show had lots of gingham.
Here’s the Lefty Frizzell version of The Long Black Veil:
Sad song, right? All tragic and romantic and stuff?
What I’ve always wondered about this song is who did the killing? If the narrator was wrongly convicted, then the murderer got away! Which is fine in the context of a country song, but I have a grudge with negative capability, so here we go.
One possible theory is that the killer is the singer of the song. Obviously, he’s an unreliable narrator; leaving aside the murder conviction, he’s a guy who admits to perjuring himself at a murder trial. If the guy cared so strongly about his best friend that he was willing to die to protect him, he would never have slept with the wife. No. The wife is not much better. After all, in addition to the cheating, she completely failed to come clean and protect her lover. But unreliable witness and horrible person or no, I think we are meant to assume that the wife really does “walk these hills in a long black veil.” If we could catch her at it, we confirm that our dead singer is not the killer.
Of course if she’s walking the hills, it doesn’t completely exonerate the singer. Maybe the wife is just sad at losing her murderous lover. Maybe she’s a goth, so she likes wearing black and going for walks in cemeteries. If he didn’t kill the guy, maybe it was a random stranger, or the “few at the scene” killed the guy, and then conspired to make it look like it was the singer. I’m going to set those unlikely scenarios aside, because, really, the song is pretty clear about who did the killing.
Ask yourself: Which character didn’t have an alibi? Why kill someone “beneath the town hall light,” which is obviously a public, well lit area? Why did the killer look like the singer? What was the motive for the killing? The answer to the first question is that, other than the judge, the best friend is the only one in town without an alibi (his wife was off cheating on him at the time of the murder). Once you realize that, the rest falls into place. The best friend waited until his wife was out of the picture, disguised himself as the singer, and killed someone in public in order to frame the singer for murder.
The Long Black Veil is a revenge story, in the vein of Hamlet or Scott Tenorman Must Die. It’s a pretty cold revenge, too: the narrator never even realizes he’s been had and basically executes himself, and the wife is emotionally destroyed for at least a decade. The unusual perspective of the song (told from the point of view of one of the victims of revenge) doesn’t allow us any insight into the fate of the best friend, but my hope is that we are meant to think he dies too; revenge stories are about justice so the revenger traditionally answers for his crimes as well. In this case, if the revenger dies, that means the wife gets *nothing* she wanted, the sacrifice of the singer is all the more pointless, and the revenge is all the more effective.
While reading an article about John Linnell’s diet, it occurred to me that “velvet” is not a flavor, or even something you eat. I imagine velvet would be kind of gross, actually, which may account for how underwhelmed I always am about “red velvet” cupcakes and cakes. It’s as if someone decided to call chocolate cupcakes “Brown shoeleather cupcakes”. Cotton candy has a similar problem. No thanks!
Red velvet cupcakes are often disappointing in a way that reminds me of blood oranges: the effort seems to go into the color and not the flavor. I asked my inner ten year-old about this, and he seems to think that “blood cupcakes” is a far more fitting name. I mean, you might actually eat something with blood in it, plus the gruesomeness of the name provides a pleasing contrast to the hopefully delicious cupcake… Mostly this post is about testing posting from my phone.
D.,”/?… o punctuation marks totally break the p:first-child:first-letter method of doing drop caps? Apostrophes do. Anyway, today I’m putting up a new design for this website. Mobile friendly! Not broken!