Mudcat Café message #2186903 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19122   Message #2186903
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
05-Nov-07 - 01:31 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (different versions)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Barbara Allen' different versions
The 'two earlier songs' that Bruce referred to were 'The dying Young-man and the obdurate Maid' (c.1655-1663/4), and 'The Ruined Lovers' (1663-74). His transcriptions of both can be seen at http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/Olson/SONGTXT2.HTM#RUNDLVR. Bruce suspected that 'Barbara Allen' was based on the former, but the scenario was hardly uncommon.

The rose-and-briar episode doesn't occur in surviving early examples of 'Barbara Allen', and was presumably borrowed later on from one of a number of different songs that use it. 'Fair Margaret's Misfortune' (Douce Ballads 1(72a), dated c. 1720, though Child thought 'end of the 17th century': see link above) would be one possibility.