The Ballad Of Charles Whitman

Album: Sold American (1973)
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  • This is a straightforward song based closely on fact. It has a strong C&W melody that many would argue should have been married to a less tasteless set of lyrics, which certainly wouldn't have been difficult.

    On August 1, 1966, 25-year-old Charles Whitman murdered his mother, stabbing her through the heart, then returned home and murdered his wife in similar fashion. Later that morning, ensconced in the clocktower of the University of Texas in Austin, he began shooting indiscriminately at passersby until he was himself shot dead by police officers.

    At the time, the Texas Clock Tower Massacre was the worst such mass shooting in American history.

    Whitman had already made up his mind to murder his mother and wife the previous evening, as is clear from his suicide note which was written prior to these terrible crimes. In addition to (thoughtfully!) willing any money from his estate to mental health research, his note alluded to headaches of increasing severity, which has of course led to speculation that his acts of madness had some underlying pathological cause. Whitman's autopsy revealed that he was indeed suffering from a brain tumour, something which features heavily in Friedman's song.

    Music fans who are more thoughtful than ghoulish may prefer the John/Taupin composition "Ticking." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
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