This led to a discussion of tone, of voicing, of speaker, of aesthetics and presentation and its influence upon interpretation. Rector's rendition lends an authenticity we felt missing from the original -- which we also discovered was written by The Beebs and a team of hundreds (or maybe like three or four other people.)
From here we shifted about a decade back to The Avett Brothers "Ballad of Love and Hate."
We started making a few connections here, seeing a couple of possible patterns, but it really didn't kick in until we dove a generation or two back.
We looked at Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
And we discovered it's an emotional song for many of us. We also discovered a great deal interesting about its structure and form, about Dylan's use of internal rhyme and alliteration, and about the effect of the song being in two voices -- the father and the son. We dove briefly into the biblical allusions evident in the text and then turned our attention to a female balladeer.
Dolly Parton has become synonymous with 1980s country-pop and become more known for her personal style than anything else. But here's the thing: for people in the know? Dolly Parton is one of the greatest songwriters that has ever lived. Period. "Jolene" is one of her many masterpieces. We had a brief discussion of this song and made some interesting points about whether or not Jolene actually exists or is just the manifestation of the speaker's insecurity. I'm looking forward to returning to this song when we are talking about different lens through which to read and view literature -- a feminist lens on the poem I think could reveal some new insights.
We ran short on time though we did talk even more more about what we could uncover about the ballad form from these selections. We noted that they tell stories, that they are often quite straight forward even if they make use of figurative language and metaphor, that there is often a dialogue or two characters at the very least. The stories are usually sad and involve love or romance of some sort.
Before we ended the class we took a look at a few of the traditional ballads of Great Britain's past.
Barbara Allen was the first.