Verse 1 and chorus: 'He. About my wife I mean to sing a very funny song, / She. I hope that you will tell the truth let it be right or wrong, / He. You know you are an arrant scold, both out of doors and in, / She. I knew you brute it was a lie before you did begin. / He. So you are inclined I still do find, the breeches for to wear, / She. No dear not I, but I will die, or I will have my share.'
This ballad deviates from the more traditional 'story' form, taking the structure of a line-about argument between man and wife. While ballad recitations often involved the performer assuming different characters or voices, the rapid-fire exchanges in this example would have been far more effective with two performers. It is thus likely that this song was written in the nineteenth century, when music halls with ensemble casts had begun to gain in popularity.
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 period of publication:
1880-1900 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(45a)
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