Mudcat Café message #1091501 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #65990   Message #1091501
Posted By: Joe Offer
12-Jan-04 - 07:15 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Billy Boy
Subject: Origins: Billy Boy
I guess this is a song I've known forever. Let's see what I remember without looking in a book:
I see we have at least three versions in the Digital Tradition. I wonder what else we can find out about this song. I see it's sometimes linked with Child #12, Lord Randall, but I don't know that I can buy that. If the guy doesn't get poisoned, what's the link to Randall?

I've always thought of "Billy Boy" as an Appalachian song. Are there European versions (other than the Lord Randall series)?


Here's the entry from the Traditonal Ballad Index:

Billy Boy

DESCRIPTION: Asked where he has been, Billy says he has been courting, and has found a girl, "but she's a young thing and cannot leave her mother." In response to other questions, he describes her many virtues, always returning to his refrain
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: courting age youth
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So) Britain(England(North,South)) Canada(Mar,Ont)
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Bronson (12), 29 versions (though Bronson omits a higher fraction than usual of the versions known to him)
Belden, pp. 499-501, "Billy Boy" (2 texts)
Randolph 104, "Billy Boy" (1 text plus a fragment and 5 excerpts, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 131-133, "Billy Boy" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 104A)
BrownIII 121, "Billy Boy" (2 texts plus an excerpt; the headnotes mention 47 texts in the Brown collection)
Hudson 133, pp. 278-280, "Billy Boy" (4 texts, condensed, plus mention of "at least" 8 more)
Eddy 38, "Billy Boy" (5 texts, 1 tune)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 246-248, "Billy Boy" (2 texts plus 2 fragments, 1 tune) {Bronson's #20}
Wyman-Brockway I, p. 14, "Billie Boy" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #26}
Sharp-100E 58, "My Boy Willie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 320-322, "Billy Boy" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #28}
LPound-ABS, 113, pp. 231-232, "Billy Boy" (1 text)
JHCox 168, "Billy Boy" (4 texts)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 267, "Billy Boy" (1 text)
DT (12), BILLYBOY BLLYBOY2* BLLYBOY3*

Roud #326
RECORDINGS:
Ray Covert, "Billy Boy" (Herwin 75564, c. 1927)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Lord Randal" [Child 12]
Notes: A number of scholars have linked this simple little song with the classic ballad "Lord Randall." Since they only have two things in common, however (the courting theme and certain metrical traits), in the Ballad Index at least we keep them separate. - RBW
File: R104

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