The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Sloop John B
Best known as a Beach Boys Song, that doesn't change the fact that this sea chanty belongs to the masses. I credit its enduring popularity to its timeless themes. Who of us hasn't gone on an ill-considered sea trip where the cook got the fits and ate up all of our corn? It's that sort of common touch on the part of the Beach Boys that almost makes up for "Kokomo." B+

Aura Lee
More fun with pop music: this bit of folkery provided the melody for the Elvis song "Love Me Tender." It would be fun to find out that all of Elvis's music was based on folk songs, and that for instance "In the Ghetto" was based on an old Irish tune called "Molly O'Branaghan's Knickers" or somesuch, but such is not to be. At any rate, Elvis's version was actually an improvement on the original, which was an interminable ode to a blackbird singing Aura Lee's name and how lovely she is and how lovely the day is and how lovely the bird is and did I mention she's blonde? Yawn. D+

Lord Randall
A great folk song in the grand tradition of gory violence, long set-ups, and dropped vowels, this tells the story of young Lord Randall, who ate poisoned eels and died. It's better than it sounds. The longer version has Randy explaining the particulars of his will from his deathbed, with the unsurprising denouement that the woman who poisoned him gets bupkiss. No, really, it's much better than it sounds. A

Barbara Allen
Not much of a plot to this one, really. Some guy dies because he loves Barbara Allen, and Barbara Allen dies because the guy died. And then plants grow out of their grave. Huh. One thing I noticed in common with this and "Lord Randall" is that the soon-to-snuff-it protagonists both insist on having their beds made for them. I feel sorry for the bed-makers because, you know, they're going to have to wash the sheets again afterwards anyway. C

Arkansas Traveler
This is a perfectly reasonable song about how wonderful it is to be in Arkansas -- not a sentiment I'm inclined to share, but I'm sure Arkansanians like it just fine. Now, however, it's known almost universally as "The Baby Bumblebee Song" thanks to Bugs Bunny cartoons. Looney Tunes were really good at that, invading and taking over songs like this as well as more classical fare like Wagner's "Kill The Wabbit Theme" and Rossini's "Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro Figaro." C-

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