The Wild West Show
Occasional Papers in Folklore: Number Four, by Ed Cray. Paperback, 150 pages.
"The Wild West Show," best known in its modern form as a bawdy rugby song, seems at first glance little more than a loose collection of scatological verses linked together by an almost unrelated chorus; but there is more here than meets the eye: a history stretching back to a 1614 comedy of Ben Jonson, with detours through popular song, vaudeville, and oral tradition. Ed Cray, author of The Erotic Muse: American Bawdy Songs, traces the long and baffling trail of this, possibly the oldest extant bawdy song, through four centuries of evolution down to the modern day.