Thursday, October 2, 2014

Long Black Veil


A musician friend, James Houlahan, posted this song on the Book of Faces:
It immediately reminded me of the late, and in many ways, great Yana Sherman, who passed away so suddenly earlier this year. Yana, a long-time friend of mine from Storytelling, loved to tell "Long Black Veil" as a story. And she told it really well. The thing is, she was a teenager when the song first came out in 1959, and she was absolutely, totally, convinced that it was based on a traditional tale.
So I was amazed when I recently heard an interview on WUMB (91.9 FM) with Danny Dill, one of the song's writers. He described in detail how they came up with it. Apparently, they had three different sources of inspiration: an old Red Foley song, a newspaper account about an unsolved murder, and the mysterious veiled woman who used to visit Valentino's grave. (For more about this, see: .)
Since Popular Culture has been relentlessly strip mining the Traditional Canon, I feel that it is our sworn duty as Storytellers to reclaim as much as we can from Movies, TV, and Pop Music. I do it every chance I can, as did Yana. In this case, ironically, it turns out that the Songwriters were also good Storytellers. Although Yana was wrong about where the song came from, I wish she was still here with us, to tell her version, again and again.


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A Blog by Mike Cohen the Storyteller and Web Developer for and about Books, Bike Touring, Cartoons, Life in the Future, Thoughtful Cultural Commentary, and Subversive but Witty Remarks.

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