A STUDY IN THE EVOLUTION OF A BALLAD
It is, perhaps, a bitter historical irony, that the "St. James Hospital" which provides the setting for this series of ballads is known today in London as St. James Palace, the home of the "Court of St. James." The original St. James Hospital was a religious foundation for the redemption of "fourteen sisters, maidens, that were leperous, living chastely and honestly in divine service." Now known as St. James Park, the grounds on which the palace stands was acquired by Henry VIII in 1532. During the whole reign of George III, the royal court was held at St. James.
A contemporary says that the palace "looked more like a prison than a royal mansion." The palace evoked in one observer a mood which paralleled the spirit of the times, one of "terrible drama … some deeply tragic … some gay … with a transient light like that which at times gilds for a moment the fierce black waves breaking over a stranded ship."
Palace life was a frequent subject for popular comment. "Ballads swarmed as abundantly as caricatures are swarming at present," wrote Lady Louisa Stuart, "and were struck off almost as hastily, whenever wit and humor or malice and scurrility found them a theme to fasten upon. A ballad was sure to follow every incident that had a ludicrous corner from
'A woful christening late there did In James's house befal,'
and the King's turning his son and daughter out of doors after it, down to a lady's dropping her shoe in the Park."
Jonathan Swift wrote about the palace in his "Journal to Stella" in a chapter called "History of the Maids of Honour since Harry the Eighth":
"Houses of amusements abounded … bibbing and drinking under the trees: two or three quarrels every week. It was grown scandalous and Insufferable."
The Mall in St. James Park continued to be the most fashionable promenade in London as late as the middle of the 18th century.
In recent years great interest has been directed at the old Anglo-Irish homiletic ballad of "The Unfortunate Rake", and its numerous progeny. An increasing number of folksong and ballad teachers and lecturers have used this ballad, in its many versions and variations forms, as a classroom device for explaining the process of tradition, which is necessarily the core of all understanding of that fascinating cultural phenomena known as FOLKSONG. A large part of the credit for such classroom demonstrations must be given to the phonograph recordings industry (and especially those small and medium size companies specializing in folk music recordings) for making available in ever increasing numbers excellent sound recordings of different forms of this ballad which may be heard by a classroom audience, and which aid in arriving at a better understanding of transmissional changes (and parody) in the oral dissemination of ballads and songs.
In producing, editing and annotating this album of 20 different versional and variational forms of the "Bake" cycle of ballads, I have attempted to bring together in one easily accessible recording sufficient materials to facilitate the use of this cycle as a demonstration tool for classroom work. I believe the instructor or lecturer will find in this recording enough materials to remove the problem of his having to go to some half dozen (or more) different recordings from which to make his selection. The introductory notes, and head-notes to each of the recorded ballads have been designed to give that minimum amount of information necessary to supplement the recordings, avoiding, as much as possible, long-winded theorizing and discussion. A selected bibliography of Important articles containing references to numerous texts will be found at the end of this booklet, and may be referred to by those wishing to pursue the subject further than this album. It is obvious from the great wealth of material available that an extended monograph on this ballad cycle is long overdue; perhaps some graduate student of folklore will soon undertake such a study in partial fulfillment of an advanced degree. We shall all be the richer for it.
NOTES BY KENNETH S. GOLDSTEIN
Welcome to Riverside's WONDERLAND!
This record is one of a series of 12-inch long-play :records designed to take children into a delightful and exciting world of entertainment. You can learn wonderful things from these records (about the sounds of the world around us, for instance; or the favorite songs of children in far-off lands), but it never has to seem like learning. That's part of the magic — for all of these tours into Wonderland are under the guidance of celebrated performers, including some of the most famous and most sparkling names in the entertainment world: actors, musicians and singers whose skill and charm are well known to both children and grown-ups.
The series includes: a remarkable series of adventures with "Grandpa Magic," as portrayed by ED WYNN, one of the greatest and most lovable comedians of all time; concerts with famed pianist ALEC TEMPLETON; records about the "songs children sing" in many foreign lands, as sung in their native language and in English by folk-singers BOB and LOUISE DE CORMIER; story-telling at its most enchanting by such great actors as CYRIL RITCHARD and MARTYN GREEN; famous American folk-singers in delightful and rousing 'sing-along' albums; the joyful singing of "My Fair Lady" star STANLEY HOLLOWAY — and much, much more.
These albums are conceived, planned and produced by an experienced staff headed by Leo Israel, who has long been recognized as a leader in the children's record field. They call upon the services of highly talented performers, writers and directors. Recorded and processed at the finest and most modern high fidelity sound studios, Wonderland records are pressed on top-quality, unbreakable vinyl. All are attractively packaged, with delightful and colorful cover illustrations by outstanding artists.