Mudcat Café message #3242452 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #87026   Message #3242452
Posted By: Mick Pearce (MCP)
21-Oct-11 - 09:45 AM
Thread Name: Barbara Allen earliest version?
Subject: RE: Barbara Allen earliest version?

Not all of it is speculation, at least in regards to the man in the song. I've looked through the 3 versions in Child, 198 in Bronson and a dozen of so at the Bodleian. In almost all of them (and when there is only one verse rememberd it is usually this) there are lines at the start of the song to the effect:

  A young man on his death-bed lay for love of Barbara Allen

In those that don't say that (relatively few and mostly 20C) he is on his death-bed and when BA arrives he says he could be cured by a kiss/her love.

It seems clear that from the earliest times he was simply dying of his love for BA, whether they had previously met or not. I don't think there is any reason to look for any other reason for his dying.

As Bronson points out BA's part in the plot varies at different times as the song evolves and motives are attributed to her behaviour.

As regards Scotch, Malcolm Douglas pointed out above - MD post - as he did in other threads, that Scotch in this context is descriptive of style not a country of origin.