Jon admits “I had forgotten about this song, but I finally managed to get back to FSC last month and was reminded of it there. It’s fascinating to see how some songs had evolved since I’d last camped (six years ago or so). This is a distant cousin of the The Prentice Boy, Cruel Knife, Worcester City, etc.”
It immediately made me think of Neil Young’s Down By The River, which I guess is part Neil, part Hey Joe and part this, but then I suppose it belongs in the long tradition of murder ballads. I was also somewhat amused to see a quest to link this to some historical event as surely Jon has this one right as an Americanised version of the title he mentions above to which I’ll add Banks Of red Roses. A worthy entrant into the murder ballad canon it is, however, with an intriguing couple of female variant also surfacing, albeit recent rewrites as you’ll see on this Mudcat thread.