Friday Five: Jack the Ripper
In keeping with our occasionally macabre Friday Five themes, today we’ll be talking about songs that mention Jack the Ripper, because today is the anniversary of the first murder he committed: on the morning of August 31, 1888, the body of Mary Ann Nichols was found in the Whitechapel area of London. Anyone who follows the site on Facebook knows that we frequently feature a different song on the most depressing fake holiday ever, Murder Ballad Monday. We’re just stretching it out a bit this week.
Enjoy these cuts. Do any other famous evildoers appear on your playlists?
5. The Town Pants – “Dark Annie”
This Vancouver-based Celtic roots band sings a song about Ann Eliza Smith, one of Jack the Ripper’s victims: “Did you know that the hand at your back would be the one to take your life?”
4. Bob Dylan – “Tombstone Blues”
“The ghost of Belle Star she hands down her wits/To Jezebel the nun she violently knits/A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits at the head of the Chamber of Commerce.” It made sense in the 1960s. Probably.
3. The Kentucky Boys – “Jack the Ripper”
This European rockabilly group covers a Screaming Lord Sutch song done many times over, but mostly by punk and rock bands.
2. The Mustangs – “Jack the Ripper”
This 1964 release features The Mustangs playing an instrumental number inspired by the mysterious murderer. Considering the surf culture influence on this particular piece of music, they may have mistaken Ripper for rip tide. Director John Waters used this tune in his film, Mondo Trasho.
1. Grateful Dead – “Ramble On Rose”
Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter penned this rootsy song together: “Just like Jack the Ripper, just like mojo hand/Just like Billy Sunday, in a shotgun ragtime band/Just like New York City, just like Jericho/Pace the halls and climb the walls and get out when they blow.” At just over seven minutes, this is a long trip if you know what I mean.
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