Song of the Day, October 29: Poor Murdered Woman by Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band

CollinsSPoorMurderedToday’s song is the beautiful closing track to the British electric folk masterpiece No Roses. When Ashley Hutchings and Shirley Collins joined forces they crafted an impressive set of folk tracks with a dizzying array of supporting artists. For this track, Hutchings basically reassembled his old band, Fairport Convention, with his bass work joining the guitars of Simon Nicol and Richard Thompson and the drumming of Dave Mattacks. With lovely concertina playing by Dave Bland, this tight unit provides a solid backdrop for Collins’ compelling vocals.

The song is a true story, taken from a news story published in England in 1834. A local lord, winding up a fox hunt, came across a woman’s body hidden in the bushes. The body was never identified and was buried in an anonymous grave in the local churchyard. The simple, tragic story caught the public’s attention, and the story became a folk song.

Collins delivers the sad lyrics with a beautiful simplicity, offering a compassion that never descends into pathos. It’s a perfectly balanced performance, with the whole musical team turning in a perfect closing moment for a classic album.

Enjoy this powerful song today.

BONUS: The BBC revisited the song and the story in a 2013 broadcast.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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