This ballad begins: 'Nanny's to the Green. Wood Jane, / To hear the Lintwhite chattering / And Willie's follow'd her alane; / To gain her Love by flattering. / But all that he could do or say, / She snuft and sneered at him, / And ay when he began to Woe, She had him mind wha gat him.'
The phrase 'Ranty Tanty' has rather obscure origins. Read as one word it is the name for certain types of weed (one which grows red amongst corn and the other a broad-leaved docking) and the name of the drink distilled from it. Taken separately, however, the expression means a lively wrangle or a riotous, almost tipsy, argument. It went on to become a slang term for a prostitute during the 1800s. Similar lyrics can be found under the titles, 'Tow to Spine', 'Scorn fu' Nancy' and 'Nancy's to the green-wood gane'.
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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Probable date of publication:
1701 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(061)
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