"John the Balladeer" Stories

razyn
@razyn
12 years ago
40 posts
Hey, that's cool -- we were talking about him, about a year ago. Didn't know he was online now.I changed my avatar, because my youngest grandson changes so fast, at two and a half, that last photo was obsolete. The other two are 7 and 8, and seem a little more stable, somehow. I'm also fairly stable.
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
12 years ago
1,249 posts
I never heard of John the Balladeer until your posting, Flint. Thanks for the link-- I've bookmarked it!
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
12 years ago
1,892 posts
I've been a fan of Manly Wade Wellman and John the Balladeer for many, many years. In fact I just the other day finished re-reading a collection of his short stories from the Fort Myers public library.Arizona Folksinger/guitarist Joe Betancourt recorded and published a number of years ago a Cassette/ now CD of John the Balladeer songs
Flint Hill
Flint Hill
@flint-hill
12 years ago
62 posts


I stumbled on an online edition of "John the Balladeer" by Manly Wade Wellman.

Wellman loved the Appalachians. Born in Angola, Africa, he graduated from Columbia University and moved to North Carolina for the music and culture. His circle of friends included Obray Ramsay and Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Both appear as characters in his fiction.

Wellman was a prolific science fiction and fantasy writer who wove Appalachian music and folklore into his stories. To my mind he had as true an ear for Appalachian dialect as the best native writers, and not one of his characters is drawn as a stereotypical hillbilly boob.

Wellman's character John the Balladeer wandered through the remote mountains of 1950s North Carolina in search of old tunes and legends. The stories are full of music, magic, folklore and scary creatures, such as the "Ugly Bird" and "The Behinder". Each story line turns on one or two folk songs that John plays on his silver-strung guitar, often to supernatural or life-saving effect.

Wellman takes artistic liberties with his musical texts, changing a line or two to make a song match up with the tale he's spinning. Nothing about the book is literally true, but it's as true a portrayal of the region as I've ever read.

I read him at age 13 or 14 and learned a few new tunes by doing so. I first encountered "The Wife of Usher's Well" in one of Wellman's stories.

And best of all, you can read them online for free!

Just click HERE



updated by @flint-hill: 01/13/19 05:09:18PM