Click to listen

March 3: The structure and powerful story of “Long Black Veil” suggests a tale handed down from generation to generation, in the tradition of the best folk music. Actually, it was handed to then-fading honky-tonk star Lefty Frizzell by the professional tunesmiths who had written it just hours before, all on this date in 1959.

Danny Dill said he and co-writer Marijohn Wilkin were going for an “instant folk song,” to capitalize on the current boom in traditional and traditionalesque music. And that’s what they got. Aside from Frizzell’s hit version (which revitalized his career), it was ultimately recorded by the likes of Joan Baez, the Country Gentlemen, Johnny Cash, The Band, The Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen and dozens of others. It’s now considered one of the enduring folk songs, never mind its origins in Nashville’s music factory.

I’m not one to do a lot of lyric analysis. But given this song’s folk acceptance, quite a few of them exist. Here’s one I found and chose at random. Feel free to add your own.