Category Archives: Child Ballad

The tender side of a monster

History in song again. I think Henry VIII a monstrous figure, even within the context of his time. He set no limit on himself, and others suffered for it. Nevertheless there is a very tender portrayal of him in Child … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, death, folk music, folk song, Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, love, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lady Glencora and Lord Bateman

I’m going to follow up my post on Kidnapped with another one exploring a folk song reference in a nineteenth century novel. This time the book is Anthony Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? and the song is Lord Bateman (sometimes … Continue reading

Posted in Anthony Trollope, Child Ballad, Chris Wood, folk music, love, Nineteenth century fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blood in the borders

Very short post this one: a reminder that the United Kingdom hasn’t always been so, and may not be so again. History’s a bloody, messy thing and today’s a day to remember that. It’s the 499th anniversary of the battle of … Continue reading

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Knights, and their impossible demands

More upon knights in this post (for some reason, my readers like posts about knights and who am I to disappoint them?).  Child Ballad no. 2 is The Elfin Knight. It has a certain overlap with The Outlandish Knight (Child … Continue reading

Posted in Allegory, Child Ballad, Dr Faustus, folk music, folk song, Imagined Village, knights, love | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old tales, retold

Where do stories come from? Who knows, is the only answer; from somewhere deep inside us as we try to make sense of our place within the world. However, once they exist they get retold, over and over, and reformed … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, death, folk music, folk song, Kathleen Ferrier, love, Malinky | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Faversham to Tunis: the pirate’s tale

I don’t, on the whole, recommend that you go to folk song as evidence for what actually happened in one period of history or another. Facts get distorted as stories are improved by the telling (or singing). Nevertheless I’ve found … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, folk music, folk song, Music, pirates, Spiers and Boden | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Red wine, new moon, deep water

I was looking through my music collection making playlists for a party last weekend and found I have six different recordings of Sir Patrick Spens (Child Ballad no. 58; to be strictly accurate, I have eight but three of them are … Continue reading

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Death and the ravens

More knights this time. Not murderous for a change, only dead. One song in particular caught my attention: The Three Ravens (Child Ballad no. 26). It’s an achingly sad tale set after some battle or other. The ravens are looking for their … Continue reading

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True loves and happy endings

Well, parrots have had a mention but they’re not the only talking animals to be found in folksong. The Broomfield Hill or The Broomfield Wager (Child Ballad no. 43) has a positive menagerie of talking beasts, though all are rather less exotic … Continue reading

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The slippery nature of folksongs

Now folksongs, being an oral tradition, are fluid and slippery things, shifting form to match place and time. They contain mnemonic tricks and formulae, as in any oral tradition, and this can lead to one story getting horribly tangled into … Continue reading

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