Verse 1 begins: 'Wha hasna heard tell o' blythe Johnny Drummond, / Wha hasna heard tell o' blythe Johnny Drummond, / If you search a' the warl' frae Lanark to Lunnon'. There are two woodcut scenes included on this sheet. The one at the top shows a swashbuckling gentleman. The one at the bottom is of a gentleman walking passed some fine buildings.
Although many broadside texts were really intended to be read or performed aloud to a wide audience, they still included printed material which made them more appealing. Cheaply available in an only partially-literate society, the pictures on the sheet would have allowed those with limited abilities to still participate in the sheet. The pictures would also have increased the perceived value of the sheet as a purchase, regardless of the content.
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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