The Ballad of Guiteau


“A story about religion, sex, an assassination, and silverware.”

That’s how the August 4th episode of the Criminal podcast is described on their website, and it’s a pretty accurate description.

I’d highly recommend it as it serves as an excellent introduction to the video clip that I’m including at the end of this post.

I’m also going to mention that the assassination that the episode deals with is of President James Garfield by Charles Guiteau, and Phoebe consistently mispronounces his name; it’s “gĭ-TOE” with a short “i” sound; not “goo-TOE” the way Phoebe keeps mangling it.

Anyway, John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim wrote a show about the various folks who assassinated or attempted to assassinate American presidents called Assassins. It contains vignettes and/or songs about all the major assassinations and/or attempts, and every historian that I’ve heard weigh in on the show has deemed it to be historically accurate.

So here is the Charlie Guiteau sequence as staged by the Ephrata Performing Arts Center in 2013 with Darren Wagner as Guiteau and Tim Reilly as the Balladeer. If you listen to the Criminal podcast first, the song might make a bit more sense.

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