Living with Ballads: Sidna Allen

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Living with Ballads: Sidna Allen

by Elizabeth Hadaway
Southern Cultures, Vol. 13, No. 3: Music 2007

"He mounted to the bar with a pistol in his hand and he sent Judge Massie to the Promised Land . . ."

He mounted to the bar
with a pistol in his hand
and he sent Judge Massie
to the Promised Land:

the only mountain ballad
my mother ever sang
the years that she was raising me
on Pop Rocks and Tang,

and Grandmother thought secular
music miles beneath
her notice, so my mind is not
one Stith Thompson motif

after another, not a green
wood thick with noble felons,
no Gypsy Davies to seduce,
no Barbara Allens,

just local Sidna, late
in the murder song tradition,
coming at you straight
out of my mother’s kitchen.