“Let Him Dangle” by Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello’s “Let Him Dangle” contain lyrics that primarily deal with the crimes of one Derek Bentley. Now, Bentley was a young man from Britain who became notorious for murdering an officer of the law somewhere in the early 1950s.
For his crime, Bentley, who was still only a teenager, was sentenced to death. He was hanged shortly after being pronounced guilty of the murder.

His sentence and execution, prompted mixed reactions from a cross section of the public. Some felt he was given a just punishment. However, others felt the punishment was not proportionate.

Lyrics to “Let Him Dangle”

“Let Him Dangle” Facts

Primary Artist(s): Elvis Costello
Album/EP: “Spike”

Writing and Production Credits

Elvis wrote “Let Him Dangle”. He subsequently teamed up with music producers Kevin Killen and T Bone Burnett to produce the tune.

When did Elvis Costello release “Let Him Dangle”?

This Derek Bentley inspired tune was officially released in February 7 of 1989. It is a product of Elvis “Spike” album of 1989.

Are there any Covers of this song?

Yes. In 2012, Raining69 came out with a popular cover version of “Let Him Dangle”.

Let Him Dangle

More about Derek William Bentley, the Inspiration behind “Let Him Dangle”

Bentley was a British teenager known for being hanged for the crime of murder. He was accused of murdering a police officer, Miles, in 1953. The police officer was shot during a burglary attempt at a warehouse in Surrey. However, Derek’s friend, Christopher Craig, was the person who fired the actual shots to kill the police officer. Derek was convicted as an accomplice to the crime, according to the English law, which explained it as committing a burglary of mutual understanding.  

During the trial, the Jury found Derek guilty, based on the prosecution’s evidence that had the statements of three officers who said that they heard Derek order Craig to shoot by shouting, “Let him have it.”

The Lord Chief Justice Goddard also described the statement as a mental aide for the murder. In Derek’s defense, he explained that he was already under arrest when the shots were fired, and he was rather telling Craig to drop his gun. Goddard sentenced Derek to death by hanging, although there were substantial pleads of mercy for him.

The case attracted public attention that led to Decades of campaigns to earn Derek Bentley a posthumous pardon in 1963. The case is now considered a miscarriage of justice, and it is the pivotal case that led to the abolishment of capital punishment in the U.K. 

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