Those that know me, know that I'm a total sucker for this song. Well, I also love Bluegrass (Sorry, Mr. Byrne!), so here's Del McCoury covering Richard Thompson's 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. I love that they change "Box Hill" to "Knoxville." Some would say cultural hybridity, but the song that Thompson did is a modern incarnation of a Child Ballad, and thus resonates through Appalachia.
I've always loved this song. It's a Shakespearean tragedy scrolled out out at under five minutes. The slightly archaic lyrics give the tale a heartbreaking edge. From the opening lyric, you have to know that young James Adie will come to no good, and that Red Molly will be his hope. The song positively rings with an Scots-Irish theme of death and redemption.
Reportedly, Thompson was amazed by the reception that the song received in the United States. But it's not surprising, given the wide open spaces of this land, and our roving instincts. Couple that with the culture of the motorcycle here, and you have the makings of great American outlaw song.
Of course, there's really nothing like seeing Richard Thompson reel out this tale in his inimitable finger picking style of playing, before a rapt theater, so here you go...