Seduced by Barbara Allen.
May 2, 2006 2:58 PM Subscribe
Help me understand the Scottish/Irish ballad tradition.
posted by lustra to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
Lately, I have been reading transcriptions of very old songs like "The Douglas Tragedy," "Barbara Allen," "Lord Randall," etc. and listening to the very weird old music on the Harry Smith anthology of American folk music. And, of course, I keep seeing derivations or inventions of all this old, weird, murderous stuff in the Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Ramblin' Jack Elliot music I've been listening to since I was a kid. So I would like to somehow track the high points in this old ballad tradition from the old UK songs to the American southeast folk music down to Guthrie and Dylan. I'd like to get a sense of a "map"--the greatest of these ballad songs at different times, and I'd eventually like to supplement the map with recordings of the songs. I guess what I'm asking for is the "greatest hits" of the Scots-Irish ballads, from the old sources, up through what we now call bluegrass, country, and folk. Assuming "Barbara Allen" is a song of greatness, what are the others I should find lyrics for, or listen to? And what books, CDs, MP3s, etc. would you recommend? Thanks.