Top 10 songs in which someone is callously left to die

DAVID Webster started this one, with the first on the list.

We were quickly immersed in disputes about the definition of "left to die" and indeed of "narrative convenience", the death usually being the point of the story.

I resolved them by editor's diktat.

1. "Give my love to Rose", Johnny Cash. He found him by the railroad track, could see that he was nearly dead, and knelt down "just to hear the words" instead of seeking help.

2. "Oh My Darling, Clementine", trad. She hit her foot against a splinter, fell into the foaming brine, but the narrator "was no swimmer". Health and safety parable via Elliot Kane.

3. "Barbara Allen", trad., Joan Baez and others. She was pretty cold-hearted to Sweet William on his deathbed, says Gloria Willis, but then again he had slighted her at the tavern.

4. "Gallows Pole", Led Zeppelin. Condemned man offers hangman his brother's silver and his sister; hangman takes them both and hangs him anyway. Thanks to Niall Smith.

5. "Mirrorball", Everything But The Girl. Makes heartless Pablo Byrne roar with laughter every time he hears: "... the one I loved ignored me/ and caused me in the end to murder my best friend."

6. "Whiskey in the Jar", trad., Thin Lizzy and others. He didn't leave him to die, he shot him with both barrels. But Adam Behr suggests there could have been contributory negligence. 

7. "Seasons in the Sun", Terry Jacks (translation/adaptation of "Le Moribond", Jacques Brel). Not clear why the singer is dying, but happy to take Tom Harris's word for it.

8. "Down in the Willow Garden", trad., Art Garfunkel and others. Gloria Willis admits he didn't leave her to die as he poisoned her, stabbed her and threw her in the river, but nominated it anyway.

9. "Hello, this is Joanie", Paul Evans. Early (1978) answering-machine song: he leaves a message but she'd been killed in a car crash. Nominated by Foweygirl and Peter Warner.

10. "Albert and The Lion", Marriott Edgar. A lion called Wallace "swallered the little lad - 'ole". A poem, nominated by Peter A Russell, rather than an actual song, but a good one.



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