"Long Black Veil” writer dies

Marijohn Wilkin, who wrote the classic “Long Black Veil,” died at the age of 86. She also wrote “One Day at a Time” and co-wrote “Waterloo.”

“Long Black Veil” tells an interesting story from a very unusual point of view. The story is about two lovers who were having a tryst while someone was killed “neath the town hall light.” The man is tried for the murder and asked if he has an alibi. He does, but doing so would reveal that his paramour is his best friend’s wife, so the accused goes to his death on the scaffold without giving up their secret. His lover wears a long black veil and visits his grave “while the night winds wail.” See the complete lyrics at the link below.

It’s a chilling story, all the more so because the song is sung from the point of view of the deceased. “Long Black Veil” has leaped the bounds of country music and has been recorded by artists as diverse as Joan Baez, Barry White, Johnny Cash, and the Kingston Trio. My favorite version is by Mick Jagger backed by the Chieftans.

Long Black Veil

Memphis Commercial Appeal – Memphis’ Source for News and Information: A La Carte

2 Responses to "Long Black Veil” writer dies

  1. J says:

    Great tune! I had assumed Cash wrote it. Live and learn.

  2. Ann says:

    Absolutely a fantastic song sung by Mick. His voice makes it as chilling as the poem/lyrics themselves.

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