Foolish and Young
DESCRIPTION: Foolish and young, the singer "courted for sport and married for fun." His wife nags and beats him. He won't cry if she dies and won't marry again. Women made fools of Samson, Solomon, Adam and Jacob. Beat her before you marry and she may be a good wife
EARLIEST DATE: before 1832 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 25(670))
KEYWORDS: shrewishness marriage warning violence Bible humorous nonballad wife
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #77, p. 2, "Foolish and Young" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan7 1299, "Foolish and Young" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Bodleian, Harding B 25(670), "Foolish and Young" ("Ye sons of Mars, that fought at the wars"), J. Marshall (Newcastle), 1810-1831
NOTES [374 words]: As the song states, women repeatedly made a fool of Samson; first there was the Philistine girl from Timnah, whom he sought in marriage; he ended up killing off most of her clan (Judges 14:1-15:7). Then he hooked up with a prostitute in Gaza, and would have been trapped in the city if he hadn't broken down the gates (Judges 16:1-3). And then there was Delilah, who learned the secret of his strength and betrayed him (Judges 16:4-23).
Solomon "loved many foreign women" (1 Kings 11:1). He clearly married them for diplomatic reasons (after all, his harem was larger than any reasonable man would want or need -- 1 Kings 11:3 says 700 wives and 300 concubines!). But, naturally, the foreign wives were allowed to maintain their own religions, and according to 1 Kings 11:4, these wives "turned [Solomon's] heart after other gods." The author of Kings blames the breakup of the Davidic Empire on this idolatry (1 Kings 11:11) -- although Solomon's excessive taxes, useless building projects, and bloated but inefficient military, plus the King's own inattention to the needs of good government surely played a greater part.
Adam of course was induced by Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-13).
It's less clear how women made a fool of Jacob. He did end up with two wives, Leah and Rachel, and two concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah -- and those complicated domestic arrangements did produce some family rivalries (see especially Genesis 30). But Jacob didn't really bring that on himself; he wanted only Rachel, and the rest followed from trickery by his father-in-law Laban and rivalry between the sisters Leah and Rachel (see Genesis 29). From what we can tell, people just kept shoving girls into his bed -- and he didn't argue too hard.
It is ironic to note that one of the most extreme Biblical cases of making a mistake over a girl isn't mentioned: David's adultery with Bathsheba. This is told in 2 Samuel 11-12, but most of the rest of that book is devoted to working out the disastrous consequences -- and the whole problem of Solomon is a direct result, since Solomon (who was clearly a worse king than the Bible wants to admit) was the son of David and Bathsheba. Like father, like son.... - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.