Ballads are enduring relics of rich oral tradition. From literary epics like Beowulf, to the seedier broadside ballads sold at public executions; these story songs give us a glimpse at the practices and values of distant times and places. Just as we can see the heroes of the past in these narrative lyrics, so can we see the villains. Especially in the dark and twisted sub-genre of murder ballads, and perhaps even more so in the sub-sub-genre of sweetheart murder ballads. Join us this week as we explore the urban legend ‘Elisa Day’ and the history of songs of similar substance from Appalachia. We will consult experts from William Shakespeare to Allen Lomax as we try to understand the phenomena of murder and infatuation, and the (apparently) persistent need to sing about the combination. We’ll also talk about the real-world criminal case that inspired the play and novel, “An American Tragedy” and its adherence to the murder ballad tradition.