Under the Covers: Long Black Veil

by oz on July 31, 2008

Lefty Frizzell

You may have noticed that the man pictured above is not Johnny Cash. His name, as etched in his guitar, is Lefty Frizzell and he’s responsible for the original version of “Long Black Veil.” The song was written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and recorded by Lefty in 1959. The song hit #6 on the US Country chart.

The song is a tragic story about a man wrongfully accused of murder. He refuses to provide an alibi that would prove his innocence because it would mean revealing an affair he’d been having with his best friend’s wife. He’d rather die than reveal the truth and hurt two people he loved. He sings about the disguised woman visiting his grave to pay respects while keeping their affair safely shrouded in a veil of secrecy.

“Long Black Veil” was made famous by Johnny Cash and I think that’s where most of us were introduced to this heartbreaking song. The Chieftains collaboration with Mick Jagger is by far my favorite version. They introduce some traditional Irish sounds that will send a chill up your spine.

Lefty Frizzell – Long Black Veil

Johnny Cash – Long Black Veil

The Band – Long Black Veil

The Chieftans and Mick Jagger – Long Black Veil

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Adrian July 31, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Great song. I always thought it was Johnny Cash, originally. Thanks for clearing that up.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this: Dave Matthew and Emmylou Harris actually did a really nice version of it live at some Johnny Cash tribute.

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