Mike Semrad

Mike Semrad

Leslie Arnold's tragic story inspired a song by a Nebraska musician.

Arnold's story was told by Henry Cordes in The World-Herald this week. A three-part series told of how the Omaha teenager murdered his parents in 1958 before he was sentenced to life in prison, escaped the Nebraska State Penitentiary and was never caught.

Arnold would be 75 years old, if he's indeed still alive.

Lincoln's Mike Semrad read the story after returning from a short vacation. He was hooked. When he finished the story, Semrad sat down and wrote a song in about 20 minutes.

"The Saga of Leslie Arnold" is told from the perspective of an "old and gray" Arnold, telling the entire story and finally lamenting "every day I think of giving myself up just to see my little brother once again."

"This story is just incredible," Semrad told me. "In a weird way, you wanted to sympathize with this terrible person. Then there's the fascination with thinking possibly he might still be out there."

The video features Semrad playing the song solo, and it was filmed on Semrad's back porch.

"The way I envisioned the song is that Leslie made another life but was living with regret and finally had to tell his loved ones who he really was," Semrad siad. "'This is who I really am."

"I fantasized about this situation that once he talked his brother, they buried the hatchet and they finally saw eye to eye," he added.

Semrad performs solo as well as with bluegrass band The Bottle Tops, which also includes Kerry Semrad, Ben Cole, Nate Morris and Brian McGovern.

He's currently working on a solo album as well as one with The Bottle Tops, and he's wondering whether to include the song on one of the records.

"I've been writing so many songs like that lately that it wrote itself," Semrad said.

On Friday, you can see The Bottle Tops perform at the Zoo Bar in Lincoln at 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Reporter - Entertainment/music/concert

Kevin Coffey is the entertainment editor and critic, covering music, movies, video games, comic books and lots more. Follow him on Twitter @owhmusicguy. Phone: 402-444-1557.

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