Song For Veronica

Album: not on an album (2010)
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  • This is a song about a prostitute. No, not the usual song like "Red Light Ladies" or "Roxanne," or even more thoughtful songs like "Old Compton Street Blues" and "Pretty Golden Hair" (both of which were penned by Al Stewart).

    "Song For Veronica" is a tribute song to a woman who died in December 2009, and who is said here to be "a working class hero." Being distinctly female, Miss Jones should technically be a heroine, or in her case, heroin. And marijuana. And probably half a dozen other illicit and highly toxic substances.

    In 1982, Veronica Jones testified as a defense witness at the trial of Mumia Abu Jamal. The defendant was convicted of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, and sentenced to death, but following a long series of appeals, his death sentence was overturned on a technicality by Judge William Yohn in December 2001.

    According to the prosecution, in the small hours of December 9, 1981, when Abu Jamal shot Officer Faulkner in the back, then stood over him and blew his brains out, she was plying her trade two blocks away, a claim she made at the trial and at a 1996 hearing. Although she said she heard the shots, she said too at the trial that at the time of the murder she had been drinking heavily and smoking marijuana all day.

    The real claim to fame of Veronica Jones is that at some point she said she had been pressured by the police to change her testimony.
  • There is a subtle irony in Price basing his song on "Working Class Hero"; its author John Lennon was a keen supporter of James Hanratty, who was hanged at Bedford Prison in April 1962. Hanratty was convicted of the A6 Murder, a senseless crime of shocking brutality in which a lone assailant kidnapped lovers Michael Gregsten and Valerie Storie at gunpoint, shot Gregsten in the head, then raped Miss Storie before pumping five bullets into her and leaving her for dead. Miraculously she survived, but was left paralyzed for life.

    The campaign to clear Hanratty's name continued decades after his death, and with the advent of DNA testing, in 1995, activists applied for new tests to be carried out on the remaining trial exhibits. Alas, to their surprise and horror, after Hanratty's body was exhumed, his DNA was found to match that of the man who had raped Valerie Storie, and on May 10, 2002, the Court Of Appeal upheld his murder conviction. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2


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