Tag Archives: Popular Music

Against All Odds — “Sam Hall” and “The Man in Black”: From British Social Disparagement to American Defiant Individualism

This article traces the development of the “Sam Hall” topos from its 18th or 17th century British origins to William Blake, to the Dubliners’ version of a Celtic traditional, to Hayes’ Harvard version, and finally to Johnny Cash. As an expression of socio-cultural criticism, the outlaw Sam Hall has been formed into a prototype of American defiant individualism “against all odds.”

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