This ballad begins: 'As I came into Edinburgh, / down by the High Street I did stray, / To drink I to a change-house went, / I spent all that night and the next day'. The chorus begins: 'Lilty turin inurin inurin, / Lilty turin inurin inay'. 'Change-house' is Scots for an 'alehouse' or 'tavern'. A woodcut illustration of a drunken man addressing the moon has been included at the top of this sheet.
Perhaps a more suitable title for this ballad would have been 'A Sailor's Misadventures in Edinburgh'! It acts as a warning to any young man tempted to stray into one of the alehouses or taverns in Edinburgh's High Street, where there are women waiting to relieve them of their money. Ironically, such songs were extremely popular in the change-houses of the day and would have most likely been sung in the establishments that were being pilloried in this ballad.
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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