"The Crabfish" is a ribald humorous folk song of the English oral tradition. It dates back to the seventeenth century, appearing in Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript as a song named "The Sea Crabb" based on an earlier tale. The moral of the story is that one should look in the chamber pot before using it.
Owing to the indelicate nature of its theme this ballad was intentionally excluded from Francis James Child's renowned compilation of folk songs The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The song has a Roud Folk Song Index of 149.
The Child Ballads are 305 traditional ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, anthologized by Francis James Child during the second half of the 19th century. Their lyrics and Child's studies of them were published as The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The tunes of most of the ballads were collected and published by Bertrand Harris Bronson in and around the 1960s.
Burl Ives’s 1949 album, The Return of the Wayfaring Stranger, for example, includes two: “Lord Randall” and “The Divil and the Farmer”. ❧
Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 08:59AM
In 1956 four albums (consisting of eight LPs) of 72 Child Ballads sung by Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd were released: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Vols. 1–4. ❧
Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 09:05AM
Illustration by Arthur Rackham of Child Ballad 26, “The Twa Corbies” ❧
Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 09:06AM
Joan Baez sang ten Child ballads distributed among her first five albums, the liner notes of which identified them as such. ❧
Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 09:07AM
"Star of the County Down" is an Irish ballad set near Banbridge in County Down, in Northern Ireland. The words are by Cathal MacGarvey (1866–1927) from Ramelton, County Donegal. The tune is traditional, and may be known as "Dives and Lazarus" or (as a hymn tune) "Kingsfold".
The melody was also used in an Irish folk song called "My Love Nell". The lyrics of "My Love Nell" tell the story of a young man who courts a girl but loses her when she emigrates to America. The only real similarity with "Star of the County Down" is that Nell too comes from County Down. This may have inspired MacGarvey to place the heroine of his new song in Down as well. MacGarvey was from Donegal.
"The Star of the County Down" uses a tight rhyme scheme. Each stanza is a double quatrain, and the first and third lines of each quatrain have an internal rhyme on the second and fourth feet: [aa]b[cc]b. The refrain is a single quatrain with the same rhyming pattern.
The song is sung from the point of view of a young man who chances to meet a charming lady by the name of Rose (or Rosie) McCann, referred to as the "star of the County Down". From a brief encounter the writer's infatuation grows until, by the end of the ballad, he imagines himself marrying the girl.
The song usually begins with the opening verse:
Near Banbridge town, in the County Down,
One morning last July
Down a boreen green came a sweet cailín,
And she smiled as she passed me by