I Have Committed Murder in My Heart
by Memphis Evans

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The original version of "I Have Committed Murder in My Heart" came from someone suggesting that everyone in the band Honigman should write a murder ballad. We were playing "Cole Younger" and "Charles Giteau" then and had at least four people in the band who were songwriters.

The original version I recorded had Jordanaires style support/answer gospel vocals and a tapping guitar solo inspired by studying Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" and "Mean Streets". It also had lyrics that I found I could not sing wholeheartedly as my current self. I am very grateful to artist Megan Bell for requesting this song twice during previous livestreams. I might never have revisited this one otherwise. Here's why I'm happy I've revisited it:

Way back in 2003 I had written a chorus that was about asking God for forgiveness for wishing for someone to die. This is based on Matthew 5:21-22, in which Jesus says:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Idiot!', is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."

So yes, I had written a repentant chorus but the verses were slightly "wink-wink-nudge-nudge maybe I'm right in hating these people after all". And verse three was about a certain president of a certain country. As my current self, I found the old words disturbing, sinful, and dated. Now maybe that is exactly what the lyrics to a murder ballad should be! However, I couldn't sing it now with a straight face.

So I changed verse one so that the dog is actually being abused instead of just annoyingly let out to bark. It makes the narrator seem concerned rather than cranky, petulant, and sleepy. Verse two I left mostly alone because it already admits to being prideful. And because gee whiz nobody should have eyes on their phone while they drive. I mean, c'mon it's the law now! I changed verse three to be about being kind to people who think differently from you, something we all need right about now.

I remember seeing Billy Bragg at First Avenue in about 1996. He said (and Wikipedia confirms now) he had just become a father and he changed the words to "A New England" from "I'm just looking for another girl" to "I'm just looking for a decent babysitter". He said some fans told him to either play the song right or don't play it at all. I hope you agree with me that I have improved my murder ballad rather than ruined it.

p.s. I also simplified the arrangement to ukelele and vocal with a harmonica in a neck rack. This recording is totally live with a tiny cut and paste where I missed a crucial E7 (or B7 if you're thinking like a guitarist, which I always do no matter how much I play ukelele). Thus begins the acoustic half of our Livestream Episode 5 EP.

Lyrics:

Chorus:
I have committed murder in my heart
I have committed murder in my heart
I've hated my neighbor and kept myself apart
I have committed murder in my heart

Every time I hear the neighbors' dog appear
I think about a shotgun and I don't mean for the barking one
A long mistreated dog is a tragedy indeed
But the murder of his people would not see that puppy freed

Chorus

Every time I see the driver next to me
prayin' to their telephone in the HOV lane all alone
Racin' down the road at 85 or 99
and I wish they would roll over but that's just the sin of pride

Chorus

Harmonica solo

Every time I think as I spiral down the sink
All them idjits oughta die for voting for the other guy
It's easy to be mean and seductive to be proud
But remember to be kind and calm when all around are rude and loud

Chorus

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