"She warbled and keened at an extreme pitch of emotion unattainable by the young, and the verses of the songs went on and on toward a receding conclusion. They were dark-night songs. Knocked-up girls got stabbed or shot or hit in the head, and then buried in the cold ground or thrown into the black deep river. Pretty Polly. Little Omie Wise. Go down, go down, you Knoxville Girl. Sometimes reproduction did not even factor into the narrative. The man snuffed the girl out because he could not own her, a killing offense if the girl's opinions ran counter to his urges. In the ballads, love and murder and possession fit tight against one another as an outgrown wedding band on a swollen finger..."
That's from Nightwoods, Charles Frazier's new novel, which I happen to be reading at the moment. Good to see that someone knows his classics well. Guy's a mean writer, too, so do snap it up. In the meantime, here's a little soundtrack.
Bill Cornett - Pretty Polly
G.B. Grayson - Ommie Wise
Louvin Brothers - Knoxville Girl