Song of the Month: The Steam Engine Murder and the Trial of Seven-Bells John

Seven-Bells John is a character who haunts a few of my narrative songs. However, you don’t know which ones. Perhaps, at some point, I will let you know.

Or perhaps not.

This track was almost part of Spinning the Compass, but I didn’t finish it in time. It’s a sort of mini epic – ten minutes in five acts, with an extended instrumental bit in the middle that contains what I regard as some fo my best melody writing.

At some point I’ll write the sequel to this, ‘Seven-Bells Redeemed’.


The Trial of Seven Bells John

1. The Prosecutor:

We’ve heard the accusations,
We’ve heard the counter claims
I say you’re guilty sir,
The evidence is plain

The blood upon your clothing,
The powder in your hair,
The looking glass smashed to shards,
And no-one else was there,

Tell the truth,
Say it plain,
There’s not a jury in the land would clear your name

We’ve heard the accusations,
We’ve heard the counter claims
No matter what you say, your guilt is plain

2. Seven Bells defends himself:

Your honour what you’ve heard here
It makes a saucy tale
The truth is I’m not a saint
My good intentions fail,

On the night in question,
I was on the train it’s true,
But not in the ladies cabin,
Past the hour of two,

Don’t believe the things they say
Don’t believe the deeds attached to my good name

You’re honour what you’ve heard here
A travesty, a joke
I’m honest as a summer day is long.
I’m honest as a summer day is long.

3. The Newspapers

Come read the latest news of the villain Seven Bells,
Murder on the locomotive, a journey straight through hell,
Three shots fired and one shot struck, pistol to the head,
The only alibi that could get him off free from a witness who has fled

A criminal who claims that he has changed the way he lives,
Previous convictions of the kind you don’t forgive
Says he met the lady for an honest tete tete
Left her in her rooms before the hideous event.

Come read the latest tale of a twisted murderer
Innocent girl shot to death just because she turned him down
Pay no mind to his stories or his wicked lies,
The only path to justice is to see that the villain Seven Bells Dies

4. Seven Bells Contemplates his Fate (Instrumental)

5. Summing up

You’ve heard the sordid details,
You’ve heard the saga through,
The evidence presented
The verdict’s up to you

A woman left for dead
on crowded midnight train
the killer fled into the night
But we all know who’s to blame

So say it right and say it true,
Guilty is the verdict you must choose

We’ve heard the accusations,
We’ve heard the counter claims
Now Seven Bells has got a price to pay.
Seven bells has got a price to pay.