Gary Miller Songs

"As a song poet there are few in the world today to match him"
Green Man Review, USA


Ballad of Mary Ann Cotton



There’s a man lying mangled in the shaft of a mine

Commonplace tragedy, ominous sign

There’s an 8-year-old daughter damaged through grief

On a tide from which she will find no relief

There’s something stirring on the grey North Sea

That blows an ill wind that seeps inwardly

Into the heart of one who has lost

And only she knows the depth of that cost

There’s a cunning, seductive manipulator of men

Weaving her webs again and again

A lying predator, behind a dark veil

A forked-tongued snake with a poisonous tail

There’s insurance money under the bed

There’s a grave in which another husband lies dead

There’s an angel of death another child in its arms

While a temptress continues to peddle her charms

There’s a tide of suspicion rolling around

There are bodies exhumed from under the ground

Bairns and husbands disturbed from their rest

As the spider is trapped and placed under arrest

There’s a baby suckling on a mother’s breast

In a crowded courtroom full of unrest

Doomed from birth to become stigmatised

The motherless child of a murderess despised

There’s letters being written from a cold prison cell

In deliberate strokes, self-pity to sell

In a petulant hand to apportion the blame

On anyone else who does not bear her name

There’s a Sunday school bell tolling the doom

Of one for whom it no longer has room

But has desperately placed her fate in God’s hands

But God has forsaken the ground where she stands

There are ministers praying as she bitterly weeps

As a claim of innocence she constantly keeps

There’s a press-gang waiting to write up their prose

Eager to pounce like a murder of crows

There’s a scaffold erected behind prison walls

There’s a long final walk as destiny calls

There’s an executioner with inhumane eyes

As he calculatingly assesses his prize

Black is the widow, black are the eyes

Black is the dress on the one doomed to die

Black is her hair and black is her heart

Black is the night to which she must now depart

There’s a black widow hanging from a fine thread

On its back an hour-glass of blood red

There’s a dark angel hanging from a short rope

Spinning and choking on a day without hope

There’s a vengeful God in the Heaven’s above

Meting out justice with anger and love

There are 21 new stars born to shine

While a red moon mourns a ruined blood-line

There’s a group of children skipping to rhymes

That tell the tale of her wicked crimes

While her restless dark spirit howls in Hell for release

From the sorrows from which she can never find peace

(Gary Miller)

© 2019 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS

Illustration by Helen Temperley © 2019



This song, written about notorious serial killer Mary Ann Cotton from County Durham, is part of the 'Northern Grit' project.

Other songs from 'Northern Grit' include: 'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey'''Blücher''Hands and Mind', 'I Can and I Will''It Will Be All Right', 'Show Me''Unlocked Gate'.


Currently Unreleased


Video Clips

Gary performing 'Ballad of Mary Ann Cotton'
live at Whippet HQ, Ferryhill, England on 7th April 2019.


Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.