Murder Comes To Mind

I’ve got murder in my heart for the judge
I’ve got murder in my heart for the judge
Well, that bad old judge wouldn’t budge
I’ve got murder in my heart for the judge

Walked into the courtroom
Know this was gonna bring me down
And that big fat bald representative of justice
And the prosecutor began to frown

Murder wasn’t under consideration when I started wandering through the files on the RealPlayer this morning. But as I sorted the 63,000 tunes alphabetically, I noticed the Cowboy Junkies 1992 track, “Murder, Tonight, in the Trailer Park,” flash past.

It’s from the Junkies’ very good album Black Eyed Man, which I found the other week at the library bookstore. (I paid a buck for it.) I thought about writing something about the Cowboy Junkies, and then I wondered how many tunes I had in the files about murder.

So I searched for “murder” and came up with twenty-two tracks, ranging temporally from Lonnie Johnson’s 1930 record “Got The Blues For Murder Only” to a couple of tracks – “Murder in Urbino” and “Buckingham Plots For Murder” – from Trevor Morris’ 2007 soundtrack to the cable series The Tudors.

And pretty much in the middle of the list were two versions of the song in which the lyrics above were found: “Murder In My Heart For The Judge” by Moby Grape and Three Dog Night. The song was written by Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson of Moby Grape, and the Grape’s version showed up on its 1968 album Wow.

I’ve only come across two covers of the tune this morning. Lee Michaels did a gritty version with some earthier lyrics on his Barrel album in 1970, and a year later, Three Dog Night took up the song as an album track on Harmony.

None of the three versions of the tune show up in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, and I don’t know if any of them were released as a single that failed to even get close to the chart. But a lot of folks likely heard the tracks anyway: Moby Grape’s Wow went to No. 20 on the Billboard album chart, Michaels’ Barrel went to No. 51 and Three Dog Night’s Harmony went to No. 8. So there may have been a few people between 1968 and 1971 walking around with a song in their heads about murder in their hearts.

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2 Responses to “Murder Comes To Mind”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    It does seem odd that there were no single releases among those three artists, but their respective labels may have thought the word “murder” in the title to be a bit too graphic for top-40 consumption. The Twin Cities album rockers certainly didn’t think so, at least regarding the Three Dog Night version.

    Even the selections on the jukebox mini-LP of TDN’s ‘Harmony’ album opted for safer turf: “Jam”, “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer”, “An Old Fashioned Love Song” and – saving the best for last – “My Impersonal Life.”

  2. David Gilmour got a good deal of airplay – at least where I was – with a song simply titled “Murder” from his album About Face in ’84.

    Cool tune, too.

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