The Child Ballads are a series of over 300 traditional ballads from England and Scotland that, along with their American variants, were anthologized by folklorist Francis James Child in the nineteenth century. An Evolving Tradition is the story of the Child Ballads—the world’s best-known and most highly regarded repository of traditional English folk songs, and the wellspring for approximately 10,000 recordings over the last century, from obscure musicological archives to classic releases from Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and Led Zeppelin.
Drawing on interviews with numerous scholars and musicians, author Dave Thompson explains what a ballad is, outlines their dominant themes, and recounts how these ballads survived to become a mainstay of field recordings made by Cecil Sharp, Alan Lomax, and others as they traveled the English and American countryside in search of old songs. Thompson traverses the entire spectrum of rock, pop, folk, roots, experimental music, industrial, and goth to reveal the remarkable legacy and incalculable influence of the Child Ballads on all manner of modern music.
Dave Thompson is the author of over 150 books, including cowritten autobiographies with Motown songwriting legends Eddie and Brian Holland, rock photographer Bob Gruen, and New York punk heroes Sylvain Sylvain and Walter Lure, among others. He has also written biographies of James Taylor, Paul Simon, and the Pogues. He is the editor of Goldmine’s industry standard record price guides.