Quiet loners,serial killers & murder ballads



Last week, I went to see my good friend and occasional songwriting collaborator Matt Hill –  aka Quiet Loner  –  play a solo show at The Windmill in Brixton.

Matt is a very talented Americana artist – as I once wrote in a review: “With pithy, sardonic lyrics about fallen angels and serial  killers, he is one of the UK’s finest alt-country balladeers”.

During his Brixton gig, Matt played a song that knocked me for six – a dark, wry murder ballad called The Cold Hard Facts Of Life, which is about a guy returning home a day early, to accidentally discover his wife is cheating on him with another man. The guy stumbles across the infidelity when he stops into a liquor store to pick up some pink champagne for him and his wife. Overhearing a bloke at the counter talking to the shop assistant about entertaining a woman while her husband is out of town, he only realises that the man is referring to his wife when he follows the guy’s car home and sees it is stopping outside his house. After supping from the bottle of champagne, the jilted guy then kills both his wife and her lover with a knife… Very, very country.

After the gig, I actually congratulated Matt on penning such a great track. More fool me.

“I didn’t write it,” he told me. “It’s by Porter Wagoner.”

I assumed Porter Wagoner was some obscure, uber-cool Americana band I’d never heard of, but Matt corrected me – he was in fact a US country singer who gave Dolly Parton her big break on his long-running TV show in the ’60s and ’70s. He died in 2007.

Wagoner was known for his flashy Nudie suits and blond pompadour hairstyle, but The Cold Hard Facts of Life is chilling and laced with black humour.

I thought Matt had written it, as it’s up there with his self-penned, macabre tales of murderers, misfits, losers and the loveless.

Below is a clip of Portner Wagoner performing The Cold Hard Facts of  Life on a US TV show.

I’ve also included footage of Quiet Loner playing Lucifer – a track that’s destined for his new album, out in November.

And for the sheer hell of it, I’ve thrown in Elvis Costello playing Psycho – Leon Payne’s song inspired by a Texas serial killer.

Now, I’m really spoiling you.


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