This ballad begins: ' They sailed away in a gallant barque, / Bob Neil and Jess M'Bride, / They ventured all on the bounding oak, / That danced (dances) on the silvery tide . . . ' A note below the title states that this ballad was sung to the tune of 'John Grumlie'. Another note, this time located at the bottom of the sheet, states it was published on the Saturday morning of 11th July 1857.
This ballad is quite unusual, in that it contains detailed information regarding how the song should be sung. Indeed, the introduction of 'Ladies and Gentlemen', combined with the preferred musical key advice for the accompanying pianist, is the type of light-hearted banter that one would expect of a music hall performance. The ballad itself tells of a terrible storm that sank a ship upon leaving Bublin Bay - 'Bublin' probably being a pun on 'bubbling', as the location is Dublin Bay. Lyrical in its use of poetic language, the ballad was written during the turbulent era when many Scottish and Irish people were leaving their old homes and emigrating to locations such as the 'New World'.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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