Monday, June 10, 2013

Ballads so old they're new to you

Here are EBBA links for ten ballads you've almost certainly never heard of, which might be interesting to revive (though in all cases, making them work as well for a modern audience would take effort beyond just learning the words and a matching melody). The newest among them is from 1625.

"York, York, for my Money" - a song in praise of York, described as the finest city in the world that isn't London, set to the tune of "Greensleeves."
"Of the Horrible and Woeful Destruction of Jerusalem" - this one would have to be condensed even more than usual, as the full version is 20 minutes long.
"The Description of a Rare or Rather Most Monstrous Fish Taken on the East Coast of Holland" - presents, in prose, the latest surprising news, then gives a short poem about it. Prose broadsheets are uncommon, but other shocking and similarly odd news sometimes led to them.
"Remember Man Both Night and Day" - a meditation on human mortality.
"Death's Dance" - a poetic treatment of the "danse macabre" motif common in medieval imagery.
"A Commendation of Music" - a response to those who disapprove of music.
"I Have Fresh Cheese and Cream" - a song about love in the marketplace.
"The Famous Battle between Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar" - a lesser-known Robin Hood story (Child 123). While printed in the 17th century, some version is believed to originate orally in the late 15th.
"A Pleasant New Song Betwixt the Sailor and his Love" - a seventeenth-century love song.
"Elizabeth's Loss" - epitaphs of important people seem a somewhat common ballad topic in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; this one is for Queen Elizabeth I.

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