When I first heard I had to write a ballad, I thought What? I don’t know any ballads!
Then I stopped and thought for just a few minutes and realized that I love ballads:
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
American Pie by Don McLean
Homecoming by Green Day
Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright
What’s Left of the Flag by Flogging Molly
However, the very first ballad I ever learned was The Ballad of Magellan:
The older I get, the more I remember learning from cartoons. Anyway, I used the same general rhyme scheme / syllable count so you can sing my ballad to the same tune – just note that in some cases you’ll have to stretch the syllable out or condense it. In addition, my ballad is slightly longer that the Animaniacs’ song, so you’ll run out of music before you run out of words.
But enough of that: Less Talk, More
Rock Ballading! (And if that’s not a word, it is now!)
1. There once lived a man, named Fred'rick Barbarossa: a Holy Roman Emperor named for his red beard. He was a weak king who wanted more power; He made a deal with the Pope which wasn't that weird. Chorus: O what will you do, Fred'rick Barbarossa? Your people don't like you, you're a figurehead. O what will you do, Fredrick' Barbarossa? Some might prefer you better off dead. 2. He invaded the states of Italy & Sicily; four times he attempted to strengthen his hand. He captured some relics, made peace in the Rhineland, and extended his power all over the land. Chorus: O what are you doing, Fred'rick Barbarossa? Ignoring your people is no way to help. O what are you doing, Fred'rick Barbarossa? Try being a leader not focused on self. 3. He tried to unite the Germanic princes who held onto their power and great influence. So he went back to fighting the battles he could win - I guess in some way it does make some sense. Chorus: Well at least you tried, Fred'rick Barbarossa - It isn't your fault if the princes won't heel. Oh wait! It is! Fred'rick Barbarossa, You're seen as a fool, tell me: how does it feel? 4. The Church then offered a chance a redemption: protect holy pilgrims and offer them aid. He went off to war with two other kings named Richard and Louis in the Third Crusade. Chorus: To war! To war! Fred'rick Barbarossa - starting your journey towards Jerusalem. Crusade! Crusade! Fred'rick Barbarossa - soon you'll be fighting the feared Saracen. 5. They came to a river - they needed to cross it; Barbarossa said "I think I'll cross over here." He fell off his horse and into the river; he sank to the bottom in all of his gear. Chorus: Oh no! Oh no! Fred'rick Barbarossa, did you forget you could not be touched? Oh no! Oh no! Fred'rick Barbarossa, were you distracted by the prospect of lunch? 6. Now you might have thought "That's the end of Barbarossa!" Well, you would be right, but there's more to my song. His men tried to preserve him in a barrel of vinegar, continuing their journey they marched right along. Chorus: What ho! What ho! Fred'rick Barbarossa, Crusading on though your spirit is gone. This is really quite morbid, Fred'rick Barbarossa - you're starting to stink in this hot summer sun. 7. His army deserted, except for five thousand who continued to Acre with his son Frederick. He was buried in Tyre, Antioch, and Tarsus instead of Jerusalem as originally wished. Chorus: You will live on, Fred'rick Barbarossa, in stories and legends of your Christian ways. And although you were used by those dastardly Nazis, we'll remember you fondly until end of days.