Tag Archives: Manly Wade Wellman

THE OLD GODS WAKEN (1979): HALLOWEEN MONTH BEGINS

Silver John

Silver John

THE OLD GODS WAKEN (1979) – Another Halloween Month begins here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at the first novel featuring Manly Wade Wellman’s iconic Pulp Hero Silver John. In 2011 I reviewed all of Wellman’s short stories and vignettes about this figure. The Old Gods Waken was the first of five Silver John novels.

For newcomers to these tales I’ll point out that Silver John aka John the Balladeer was a wandering guitar player in the Appalachian Mountain communities of yore. He would do battle with assorted supernatural menaces from mountain folklore like a combination of Kolchak and Orpheus. John’s silver guitar strings and silver coins were powerful repellants against much of the evils he faced down.

For more details on this neglected fictional hero click HERE or HERE or HERE. If you want an easy comparison the Silver John stories were based on the same type of mountain/ country folklore about music and the supernatural that the song The Devil Went Down To Georgia was based on.

silver john another coverThe Old Gods Waken deals with Silver John performing with other musicians at a music festival, then getting drawn into a property line dispute between the Forshay family and two sinister British men calling themselves Brummitt and Hooper Voth. As usual in our hero’s travels there are dark supernatural forces at work behind this boundary dispute – forces ultimately dealing with Pre-Columbian entities and transplanted Druidism.

I enjoy the Silver John short works far more than the novels and this book reflects plenty of reasons why. If The Old Gods Waken is a reader’s first exposure to the wandering balladeer then they might like it much better than I do based on the strength of the character and Manly Wade Wellman’s ear for old mountain dialects. As for me, I’ll explore the reasons why I think this novel embodies all the shortcomings of the (still very good) long form Silver John adventures.    Continue reading

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TWENTY BEST SILVER JOHN STORIES

Mascot FOUR original pics

Balladeer’s Blog

Balladeer’s Blog presents another Top Twenty list for 2020. This time it’s a look at the 20 Best Silver John Stories. If you’re not familiar with this neglected Pulp Hero created by Manly Wade Wellman, Silver John was a wandering musician who battled evil supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of yore. His nickname comes from his pure silver guitar strings and the silver coins he wields in his war against darkness. Think Orpheus meets Kolchak. For more info click HERE

Silver John

Silver John

O, UGLY BIRD! – In this debut Silver John story the heroic balladeer squares off against a vile man named Osmer. That villain dominates an isolated mountain community through his ability to send forth his soul in the form of a giant, hideous bird to prey on any who oppose him. 

THE DESRICK ON YANDRO – Desricks are old mountain cabins dating back to Colonial times. Such cabins were heavily fortified against potential attacks from hostile Native Americans or wild animals. This particular desrick houses a powerful old witch and is guarded by a virtual army of horrific monsters. Silver John must face the Bammat (the last of the woolly mammoths) and the Toller (a deadly winged creature), plus others called the Culverin, the Flat, the Skim and the Behinder.     Continue reading

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HALLOWEEN SILVER JOHN TALES

Silver John: Can These Bones Live?

Silver John: Can These Bones Live?

My month-long celebration of Halloween continues! Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will recognize Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John from my Pulp Heroes page. Silver John, so- named because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carried in his pockets, roamed the Appalachian Mountains decades ago combating dark supernatural menaces. On my Pulp Heroes page I’ve done a synopsis for each of the short stories featuring this neglected character, but this post will simply list the four tales most appropriate for Halloween.

4. THE LITTLE BLACK TRAIN – While performing with other musicians at a wealthy Southern Belle’s outdoor celebration Silver John finds himself trying to save his alluring but wicked hostess from losing her life to a ghostly train. That pitch- black train with coffin- shaped boxcars runs only at midnight on just one night a year to run down and take the life of a Continue reading

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THE TOP FOUR SILVER JOHN STORIES FOR HALLOWEEN

 Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will recognize Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John from my Pulp Heroes page. Silver John, so- named because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carried in his pockets, roamed the Appalachian Mountains decades ago combating dark supernatural menaces. On my Pulp Heroes page I’ve done a synopsis for each of the short stories featuring this neglected character, but this post will simply list the four tales most appropriate for Halloween.

4. THE LITTLE BLACK TRAIN – While performing with other musicians at a wealthy Southern Belle’s outdoor celebration Silver John finds himself trying to save his alluring but wicked hostess from losing her life to a ghostly train. That pitch- black train with coffin- shaped boxcars runs only at midnight on just one night a year to run down and take the life of a designated sinner … And she’s slated to be this year’s victim.

3. CAN THESE BONES LIVE? – Our wandering balladeer encounters an odd funeral procession of mountain folk burying an extraordinarily large skeleton they’ve Continue reading

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PULP HEROES: THE FINAL TWO SILVER JOHN SHORT STORIES

I’m continuing my look at Manly Wade Wellman’s pulp hero Silver John, the roaming singer and guitarist who fights supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of long ago, sort of like a countrified Orpheus meets Kolchak. He’s called Silver John because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carries in his pockets. For more details click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/

SIN’S DOORWAY – This story takes place when Silver John is much younger and in fact hasn’t even begun using silver guitar strings yet. For anyone wondering how he would do against supernatural menaces without silver implements this is your chance to see our hero improvise. Anyway, this tale features a younger and less experienced John dodging corrupt southern lawmen and winding up getting lost in the wilderness. He’s nearly starved by the time he finds a town and arrives just in time for  Continue reading

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PULP HEROES: SILVER JOHN – AN UNDEAD HANGING VICTIM AND A SUPERNATURAL SHOOTING CONTEST

I’m continuing my look at Manly Wade Wellman’s pulp hero Silver John, the roaming singer and guitarist who fights supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of long ago, sort of like a countrified Orpheus meets Kolchak. He’s called Silver John because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carries in his pockets. For more details click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/

WHERE DID SHE WANDER? – This short story is set during the time Silver John and Evadare are married. Our hero travels to perform at the Trudo Music Festival, where he got tongues wagging by setting his guitar on fire while on stage. I’m kidding! While there John looks into a local legend behind a song he’s just learned. A legend about Becky Til Hoppard, a woman hanged as a witch in 1849. Her gravestone is regarded with superstitious awe and Continue reading

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PULP HEROES: SILVER JOHN – A TRIO OF TALES

Silver John: Can These Bones Live?

Silver John: Can These Bones Live?

I’m continuing my look at Manly Wade Wellman’s pulp hero Silver John, the roaming singer and guitarist who fights supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of long ago, sort of like a countrified Orpheus meets Kolchak. He’s called Silver John because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carries in his pockets. For more details click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/

NOBODY EVER GOES THERE – Just a reminder that all the Silver John stories published after his marriage to his beloved Evadare (click here if you missed the tales chronicling that landmark event – https://glitternight.com/2011/06/03/pulp-heroes-silver-john-four-for-friday/  ) jump around in time. This short story is set when John is much older. This tale breaks from the tradition of having the stories narrated by Silver John in the first person. We get a third person narrative in which the older (probably 40’s) balladeer comes to the aid of two young lovers in the town of Trimble.

Mark Banion and Ruth Covel, two teachers at Trimble High, cross to the forbidden side of Catch River, where ancient, shadowy life forms caused the disappearance of an entire textile factory crew plus their families. All of that happened over 75 years ago, but strange sounds still emanate from the creepy-looking abandoned factory and the company houses nearby. The romantic leads investigate the strange place and find themselves surrounded by the nebulous creatures from the Continue reading

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PULP HEROES: SILVER JOHN – “WHO ELSE COULD I COUNT ON” AND “OWLS HOOT IN THE DAYTIME”

I’m continuing my look at Manly Wade Wellman’s pulp hero Silver John, the roaming singer and guitarist who fights supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of long ago, sort of like a countrified Orpheus meets Kolchak. He’s called Silver John because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carries in his pockets. For more details click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/

WHO ELSE COULD I COUNT ON? – Silver John encounters his own older self from forty years in the future. He’s traveled back in time to Continue reading

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PULP HEROES: SILVER JOHN – THE WARLOCK JOSS KIFT AND CRAYE SAWTELLE’S HELL-HOUND

I’m continuing my look at Manly Wade Wellman’s pulp hero Silver John, the roaming singer and guitarist who fights supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of long ago, sort of like a countrified Orpheus meets Kolchak. He’s called Silver John because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carries in his pockets. For more details click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/

I CAN’T CLAIM THAT – With Silver John and his beloved Evadare married now (and if you missed the landmark tales depicting those events click here – https://glitternight.com/2011/06/03/pulp-heroes-silver-john-four-for-friday/  )   the stories stopped going in chronological order, jumping around Silver John’s life past and future. Set BEFORE John’s marriage, this vignette features a warlock named Joss Kift who seeks revenge on our hero for exposing him. A black rooster with its throat cut, a voodoo doll and a black dog hanging from a tree are Continue reading

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PULP HEROES: SILVER JOHN – FOUR FOR FRIDAY

I’m continuing my look at Manly Wade Wellman’s pulp hero Silver John, the roaming singer and guitarist who fights supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of long ago, sort of like a countrified Orpheus meets Kolchak. He’s called Silver John because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carries in his pockets. For more details click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

ON THE HILLS AND EVERYWHERE – This short story would be better titled  A Very Silver John Christmas. Our wandering balladeer is spending Christmas Day with a mountain family; singing, playing and tale-spinning for his supper. He tells a story about a man named “Mr Carpenter”, who of course turns out to be Jesus Christ, and who performs a Yuletide miracle for Continue reading

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