Friday Five: Missing Persons
If I had a time-traveling police box at my disposal, in between placing bets on various sporting events, attending concerts, and avoiding the Grandfather paradox, I’d like to find out what happened to these people.
5. Roger McGuinn – “Bag Full of Money”
McGuinn invents a past for the infamous Dan “D.B.” Cooper in this country-rock song (skip ahead to 2:30 in the video): “If you can’t get a job and they think you’re insane / If the years of your youth have been washed down the drain / And you wake up some mornin’ with nothin’ but pain / It was then I decided to grab me a plane.”
4. Paul Clayton – “Lady Franklin’s Lament”
In 1845, an expedition led by Sir John Franklin left England for the Arctic Circle in order to chart The Northwest Passage. When there had been no word from the expedition by 1847, Lady Franklin urged the formation of search parties. Although a few bodies and artifacts (including a note that mentioned Franklin’s death) were found, there is no definitive proof about what happened to the 128 men of the lost expedition. (Perhaps the newest search for Franklin’s ships will uncover new information.) This popular 19th century broadside—written from Lady Franklin’s point of view–was recorded by Paul Clayton in the late 1950s.
3. Todd Snider – “D.B. Cooper”
Seriously, who is this guy? And what happened to him?
2. Dave Alvin – “Everett Ruess”
20-year old artist/wanderer Ruess disappeared in November of 1934 near Escalante, Utah. Nearly 80 years later, we still don’t definitively know what happened to him – some hypothesize he was murdered, others say he fell to his death or drowned. There are a couple good books on Ruess if you’re interested (I enjoyed this one), or you can listen to Alvin’s take on the mysterious young man.
1. The Country Gentlemen – “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight”
Lots of folks have recorded this Red River Dave McEnery salute to “the first lady of the air”, including Kinky Friedman and Freakwater. But if I were going to be stranded on a desert island–perhaps marooned there after my plane ran out of fuel–I’d pick the Gentlemen’s take on the tune.
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