Top 5 Crime Fiction Related Songs

-There are so many to choose from- you could do a top 100 with Nick Cave alone!

-Here are my faves- what are yours?



5. Mack the Knife Bobby Darin

"Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth dear." 

You can trace versions of the song back to 1928, but the most well known versions would be from Bobby Darin or Frank Sinatra. It's a dark tale and it is really an unusual song to have been such a hit over the years. Check out the gravelly and stripped down Mark Lanegan cut from his Imitations album.

4. San Quentin Johnny Cash

"I think I understand a little bit how you feel about some things,
It's none of my business how you feel about some other things,
And I don't give a damn about how you feel about some other things."


So said Cash when introducing his new song to the world and to the inmates within San Quentin. This is my pick over the likes of Folsom Prison Blues, mostly because of this recording. You can hear the tension and the electricity when he sings, "San Quentin I hate every inch of you." He said afterwards that all he would have had to do was shout "Break!"


3. The Sidewinder Lee Morgan

“The tune kind of put me in mind of the sidewinder - you know, the 'bad guy' on television. There's a snake called the sidewinder, but I was thinking of the bad guy."

This instrumental Hard Bop jazz tune swaggers from start to finish. It captures something of the career villain in the likes of a '60's Richard Stark thriller. Best known perhaps as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Morgan gained a surprise cross over hit with this number. He was perhaps the greatest trumpeter of his generation. Yes- I'd say better than Miles! Sadly his own life was cut short through violent crime, when his common-law wife shot him in a nightclub, just following his performance at a gig.


2. Stagger Lee Nick Cave

"It was back in '32 when times were hard. He had a Colt forty-five and a deck of cards, Stagger Lee."

To put it mildly- this song is sweary! It is also a great piece of story telling, itself based on old folk tales. Cave creates a brutal and vivid world that builds upon a somewhat catchy and repetitive bass line from Martin Casey. As above- there are so many great Cave songs in this vein and a whole album of them in Murder Ballads!

1. Crime Scene Part 1 The Afghan Whigs

“That combined with all the crime novels I was reading, all the noir films I was watching, and my generally twisted state of mind, crystalized into what I wanted to do.”

Dulli usually has his record sleeves declare 'shot on location', rather than 'recorded in.' There are none of his albums more like a feature film than Black Love. This is the opener and and it very much sets the unsettling tone for the album. It is certainly one of their best and Dulli recently stated that it was his own favourite. Sublime.

"As I dream all the evidence is piling up against me. As I breathe all the essence rare, is falling off the vine. And if you knew, just how smooth, I could stop it on the dime.You could meet me at the scene of the crime."

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