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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Howard Jones If you don't like ballads...... (252* d) RE: If you don't like ballads...... 07 May 19

Al, I would guess that you are perhaps also a person who won't re-read a book or watch a film twice. My wife is like that - what's the point, she says, when you know how the story ends? Whereas I enjoy doing both - often during the first time through I am impatient to find how the story ends, whereas on subsequent visits I can sit back and enjoy how the story is told. Ballads are the same.

Shorter folk songs can be equally predictable. You can be confident that when a man meets a fair maid and they start discussing sporting guns, card games, agricultural activities or winding wool that by the fourth verse they will be engaged in metaphorical rumpy-pumpy. Or if she spurns his advances he will turn out to be her long-lost love, unrecognised until he produces a glove, broken ring or some other token.

Like any good story, a ballad can be spoiled by a poor storyteller. The same is true of novels, films and plays. How many good jokes are spoiled by someone who cannot tell jokes, but insists on doing so anyway? Many club singers don't know how to put across a ballad, but in the hands of someone who understands how to sing them they can be electrifying.

For me, the sparse language and dispassionate way they they can tell the most harsh stories is compelling. The grisly fate which meets Childe Owlet and the manner of his betrayal never fails to send a shiver down my back, even though I know full well what happens to him.

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