Carolina Buddies, "The Murder of the Lawson Family" (ca. 1930) As this murder ballad became a folk standard, recorded most famously by the Stanley Brothers in 1956, the events it relates became the stuff of hazy legend. But when this struggling three-man string band first sang these lyrics in 1930, their story of Charlie Lawson was ripped from the headlines. Just a year earlier, on Christmas Day, Lawson murdered his wife and six of his seven children, rested their heads on pillows of stone and then killed himself. (The seventh child was out on an errand at the time.) The Buddies sing with a cool Appalachian resignation, acknowledging but not sensationalizing the violent terror lurking in everyday life. The idea that a man might one day snap without explanation and destroy his family and himself feels all the more tragic set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, suggesting as it does that not even family life could offer refuge from the economic despair of the age.