Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel #2 (live performance 1985)

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.

And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.”

Mississippi John Hurt, ‘Stack O’ Lee Blues’ (aka Stagger Lee) 1928

“The historical Stagger Lee was Lee Shelton, an African-American pimp living in St. Louis, Missouri in the late 19th century. He was nicknamed Stag Lee or Stack Lee, with a variety of explanations being given: he was given the nickname because he “went stag”, meaning he was without friends; he took the nickname from a well-known riverboat captain called Stack Lee; or, according to John and Alan Lomax, he took the name from a riverboat owned by the Lee family of Memphis called the Stack Lee, which was known for its on-board prostitution. He was well known locally as one of the Macks, a group of pimps who demanded attention through their flashy clothing and appearance. In addition to these activities, he was the captain of a black Four Hundred Club, a social club with a dubious reputation.

On Christmas night in 1895, Shelton and his acquaintance William “Billy” Lyons were drinking in the Bill Curtis Saloon. Lyons was also a member of St. Louis’ underworld, and may have been a political and business rival to Shelton. Eventually, the two men got into a dispute, during which Lyons took Shelton’s Stetson hat. Subsequently, Shelton shot Lyons, recovered his hat, and left. Lyons died of his injuries, and Shelton was charged, tried and convicted of the murder in 1897. He was paroled in 1909, but returned to prison in 1911 for assault and robbery. He died in incarceration in 1912.”

via

I use to have this track on a clunky old cassette, never knew where it came from.

“O Death” – Ralph Stanley

 

“In 2009, the Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance was given to international pop star Brad Paisley. In 2008 and 2006, it went to Nicole Kidman’s boyfriend Keith Urban. In 2002, it was awarded to Ralph Stanley, the 75 year old bluegrass singer, for this a cappella performance of an Appalachian funeral dirge. He deserved it.

Partially speaking in the voice of a man on death’s door, partially as death itself, the song takes its power from its unflinchingly physical depiction of the end of life. In so many country songs, death is a welcome respite from pain; here, it’s a horrifying prospect, the transformation of a person from something alive and vibrant into a collection of cold, moist flesh and bone.”

— from ilovecountry

I’ll fix your feet til you can’t walk
I’ll lock your jaw til you can’t talk
I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see
This very air, come and go with me

I’m Death, I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold.
To draw up the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim.