Airy Persiflage

The Unfortunate Lad (Traditional Folk Song)

September 2, 2020

This is a version of a very old song that probably dates to the 1740s in England (or so).  It is sung A cappella by your humble narrator.  If it sounds kind of chanty and familiar, there is some evidence that this song, "the Unfortunate Lad" or the Unfortunate Rake, or the Unfortunate Soldier or the Dying Cowboy.. or perhaps its most famous incarnation the Streets of Laredo, has been repeated for more than a hundred years, transmogrified to different settings and situations to fit the current year and popularized over and over again.  At the heart of it, it's a mournful little ditty about a man clearly dying of syphilis giving practical instructions for his burial to bury him quickly and bring flowers to distract from his corpse putrefying.  Cheerful stuff!  There are many versions of the lyrics.  I decided to give the version sang by Brendan Gleason in the recent movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs a go, for their brevity and feeling.  With your kind forbearance, here we go:

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