The Ballad of America: The History of the United States in Song and Story

By John Anthony Scott | Go to book overview

The British
Heritage

Bawbee Allen

"Barbara Allen" is a ballad that has been sung for three centuries, at the very least, in all parts of the British Isles and Eire. Its wide diffusion throughout the United States, and the endless variety of melody and lyric found, are evidence that it was brought to the colonies in the earliest days.

The version reproduced here comes from Scotland, and is given to us from the family tradition of the great Scottish folk singer, Ewan MacColl. It has been included here, from the hundreds of American and British versions that might have been chosen, for a number of reasons. Sir John Graeme, in the first place, is shown as a flesh-and-blood man who fought a duel and died for love. This is much truer to life than the common and generally accepted version of "a spineless lover who gave up the ghost without a struggle." In the second place, MacColl's melody is, in this editor's judgment, among the most perfect that we inherit. And finally, melody and lyric combined provide a classic example of the great and passionate art of the ballad at its best.

-7-

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The Ballad of America: The History of the United States in Song and Story
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Ballad of America - The History of the United States in Song and Story *
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xi
  • Note on the Music xiii
  • I - The Colonial Period 1
  • The British Heritage 7
  • Colonial Songs and Ballads 30
  • II - The American Revolution 53
  • III - The Early National Period 91
  • IV - Jacksonian America 124
  • Sea and Immigration 126
  • The Westward Movement 159
  • Slavery Days 190
  • V - The Civil War 216
  • VI - Between the Civil War and the First World War 253
  • Farmers and Workers 257
  • Immigrants 284
  • The Negro People 301
  • VII - Between Two World Wars 324
  • VIII - Since the War 362
  • Sources 381
  • Recordings 400
  • Afterword 419
  • Index of Titles and First Lines 429
  • General Index 433
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