Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ten Years Ago, On a Cold Dark Night...

Category: Obituary

Country music has lost one of its greatest songwriters.

So has folk music and rock and roll.

Danny (Hoarce Eldred) Dill died October 16th at a Nashville hospital. No cause of death was given.

Bill Anderson said of Danny Dill, "If all he'd done was help write 'The Long Black Veil,' he'd still go down as one of the all-time great songwriters." Ain't it the truth.

Danny Dill, along with the late Marijohn Wilkin, composed the song about a man who went to his death on the gallows rather than confess his affair with the wife of his best friend. The song is legendary, thanks in no small part to Lefty Frizzell's haunting recording in 1959.

Since Frizzell's hit, artists ranging from the Country Gentlemen to Johnny Cash to the Band to Jason & the Scorchers to Burl Ives to the Kingston Trio to Joan Baez have covered the song. Without question, one of the most ambitous versions was by the Edisons, a band based in Tennessee who wrote an album of original songs based on the song, covering the events mentioned in the original tune from different perspectives (e.g., the judge who condemned the man to death, the hangman, the jury, etc.).

Fortunately for country music, "The Long Black Veil" was not Dill's only contribution to country music. He also co-wrote "Detroit City," one of Bobby Bare's classic songs. He wrote another tale of murder, "Partners," which Jim Reeves recorded (and Eddy Arnold later covered). Other Danny Dill compositions include "The Comeback" (Faron Young), "Let Me Talk to You" (Ray Price), and "So Wrong" (Patsy Cline).

Danny Dill was 84.

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