Mudcat Café message #3936937 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3936937
Posted By: Brian Peters
12-Jul-18 - 01:52 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"The Wild Rover in all of its manifestations is indeed a temperance song, which gives a delicious irony to its usage as a rip-roaring drinking song"

I've always been amused by that too. Whichever anonymous editor rebranded 'The Bad Husband' of the ballad as 'The Wild Rover' bears some responsibility for that. The C19 song remained a temperance piece, but maybe later ears decided that the 'wild rover' character sounded more of a swashbuckler than a morose alcoholic.

It's also the only one of all those Alehouse Ballads in which the protagonist plays his poor man / rich man trick on the alewife, which I believe was a factor in its subsequent evolution and popularity.