The Classic Early Ballad in Modern English is available on CD
If you've spent any time on my website, you have probably seen me mention A Gest of Robyn Hode. This 15th century ballad isn't only one of the earliest tales of Robin Hood, it's also the longest and most influential of the Robin Hood ballads. The Errol Flynn and Kevin Costner movies? The Richard Greene, Michael Praed and Jason Connery TV shows? The books of Howard Pyle and Robin McKinley? They've all borrowed plot elements from the Gest.
I re-read the ballad in its original late middle English (post-Chaucer, pre-Shakespeare) at least twice a year. And yet, listening to the new CD recording byCalifornia folk singer/songwriter Bob Frank, I fell in love with the ballad again in a brand new way.
Most times you hear great works of literature, they are delivered in a dry, flat tone. Not this version. Bob's Gest reminds us that these stories were meant to entertain. His translated lyrics and vocal performance (which isn't quite singing, but sort of is singing) bring the classic tale alive. Accompanying the piece with guitar music, Bob's Gest sounds thoroughly American, but also totally faithful to the spirit of the original.
It's fresh, funny and I give it my highest recommendation. It's nearly an hour and 20 minutes long, and yet stays lively throughout. The only reason I don't say more about it is because ... well, I'm trying to get a paying gig about writing an article about Bob's Gest, and I don't want to compete with myself.
You can order A Little Gest of Robin Hood online, and learn a lot more about it at Bob's website www.bobfranksongs.com .
And please tell him that Allen sent you.
CD Cover illustration by Ernest Thompson Seton
Copyright, © Allen W. Wright, 1997 - 2004.