I’ve been doing a series of shows for ds106radio called Crime Time Radio. It’s not really part of the True Crime class, just something for my own amusement to fulfill my secret desire to be a DJ. The crime theme holds lots of possibilities, and I’m not limiting it to true crime. I tried archiving the shows on Soundcloud, but I ran up against their storage limits. So here I’m transcribing and linking to the parts I used.
This week on Crime Time Radio, we’ll look at sin. I get the impression from Cotton Mather and some of the stories of colonial crime that people were punished more for transgressions against God than for violating societal norms.
“Yonder Stands the Sinner,” by Neil Young. That comes from Time Fades Away, a criminally under-appreciated entry in Neil’s catalog. Crime and sin have long been represented in music. The tradition of murder ballads goes back to pre-colonial folk songs. Here’s a well-known modern example of sorts
“Long Black Veil”, by The Band. This is not directly about an actual murder, as some murder ballads are, although it was allegedly inspired in part by an unsolved murder. In the song, while the protagonist is being executed for murder, he’s really paying for the sin of adultery. From Mather’s perspective though, by not confessing he gets damnation.
Judas Priest, with “Sinner.” I’m not sure what Mather might have made of that one – it has a bit of the fire and brimstone, but it doesn’t offer a way out. I suspect the Puritans may have taken the position that any song that doesn’t worship God in one way or another praises Satan. Judas Priest wrote songs of crime as well as sin.
Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law”, as performed by The Supersuckers*. I like the way they took a heavy metal song and countrified it. The narrator in the song blames society and circumstances for his crime, saying anyone would turn to crime in his position. And that reflects the shift in colonial crime narratives from confessions of sin to tales of people’s lives and actions, a shift from redemption to excuses.
According to the cover of their CD, The Supersuckers are the greatest band in the world, so we’ll end this week by going out on top. Crime Time Radio
* I later found out that it’s actually The Junkyard Dogs, which includes some or all of the Supersuckers and assorted guests, whose names have been changed to protect the innocent.