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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Downfall of Brigham Young'


This ballad begins: 'Come listen now and you shall hear the news that came to hand, / Concerning Saint Brigham Young, that famous lady's man, / We're told that all the Mormons, and his bawling squalling band, / Will have for to skedaddle from the Yankee Doodle land . . . '

In its attack on Brigham Young (1801-77), the founder of the Mormon Church, this ballad is not perhaps the best example of religious tolerance. The ballad's reference to a possible jail sentence for Young, suggests that it was written some time in 1871, for it was in this year that Young faced polygamy charges in a federal court. The fact that such an unusual ballad could be sold in Scotland, shows that people took a keen interest in the world around them - although, admittedly, much of the ballad does take a rather prurient interest in Brigham Young's complicated matrimonial affairs.

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 published: 1871-   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(74a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Downfall of Brigham Young'
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