Just Folks - The Music of Ordinary People

Just Folks - The Music of Ordinary People
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.53

     challenging words:    briar, dating, dyin, humdrum, livelong, mandolin, mountainside, nigh, ordinary, snappy, stallion, stringed, thyme, verses, folk, handy
     content words:    Yankee Doodle Father, Captain Gooding, Captain Washington Upon, Barbara Allen In London, Sweet William Green, Barbara Allen, Sweet William, America My, Scarborough Fair Are, Scarborough Fair

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Just Folks - The Music of Ordinary People
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     Folk music is a special kind of music. It is found in every culture in the world. It tells about life. It is about the happy and the sad. It is about the trying and the funny things that happen to people. Folk music groans with the humdrum and sparkles with adventure.
Yankee Doodle
Father and I went down to camp
Along with Captain Gooding.
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.

Yankee doodle, keep it up!
Yankee doodle dandy.
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be handy.

There was Captain Washington
Upon a slapping stallion
A-giving orders to his men.
I guess there was a million.

3     Many folk songs are ballads. These are songs that tell a story. Most ballads start with a real life event. The song may tell the story just as it happened. Or it may just tell a good tale.
Barbara Allen
In London town where I was born,
And where I got my learning,
Sweet William Green took to his bed,
For love of Barbara Allen.

So slowly, slowly she came up
And slowly she came nigh him.
And all she said when she there came
"Young man, I think you're dyin'."

"Oh, mother, mother make my bed,
Oh, make it long and narrow!
Sweet William died for love today,
I'll die for him tomorrow."

They buried her by the old church tower,
Him they laid beside her.
And from her grave grew a red, red rose,
And from his grave a briar.

They grew to top the old church tower,
They could not grow no higher.
And there they twined in a true lover's knot,
Red rose around the briar.

5     Another kind of folk song tells about certain groups of people. There are songs of poor people. Some sing the woes of workers who are badly treated. Some songs are about the troubles of slaves. There are even folk songs about countries.

Paragraphs 6 to 15:
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