Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

A Collection of 200+ traditional songs & variations with commentaries including Lyrics & Sheet music

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(Child, No. 278)
This is a very old ballad, steeped in demonology, of which many versions have been recorded in America. Child (V, 107-108) notes that "A curst wife who was a terror to demons is a feature in a widely spread and highly humorous tale, Oriental and European." Neither of the two Child texts mentions any earlier dealings between the devil and the farmer, as m Michigan E. The Michigan texts A, C, D, and are all more similar to Child A than to B, which is in Scotch dialect. There is a refrain in Child B, and A has a chorus of whistlers. The refrains of Michigan A, B, and D are quite different from those of other published texts. For British texts see JFSS, II, 184-185, and III, 131-132; and Williams, p. 211. For American texts see Barry, Eckstorm, and Smyth, pp. 325"3335 Cox, pp. 164-165; Davis, pp. 505-515, Flanders and Brown, pp. 226-228; Lomax, pp. 110-111; Mackenzie, p 64; and Sharp, I, 275-281. Burns remodeled an old ballad which, his wife said, he gave "a terrible brushing" and which he called "Keliyburnbraes" (JIFSS, XVIII, 27-38). It is somewhat similar to the Michigan text of the same name, but there are many variations in the words, and the refrains are different For comment on the refrain see Introduction, pp. 20-21. Version A was sung in 1934 by Mr. Otis Evilsizer, Alger.
1    There was an old farmer who had a farm, Jack a fie gent to rosim Marie;
He had no horse to plow his farm,
As the dew blows over the green vallee.
2   The old farmer hitched up his old sow to plow; She went here and there, and the devil knows where.

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