Conventions of Ballads
Ballads were originally created to accompany expressive dance and were sang by the performers in time with that dance. The lyrics, usually stories that explained an aspect of a specific culture or history of a people, were then separated from the dance and passed down from generation to generation orally.
The poetic form of ballads are plot driven and tell a narrative tale that builds up to a dramatic ending. Ballads cover a variety of subject matter, but mostly concern one or more of the following: love, religion, personal tragedy, crime, and politics. Ballads also have a very specific rhyme scheme with ABABBCBC being the most common. This is more of a guideline rather than a rule; however, as some ballads break away from this scheme.
"Here Comes the Story of The Hurricane"
When it comes to the modern interpretation of the ballad, no other song has done more for style than "The Hurricane" by Bob Dylan. The ballad is based off of the life story of Rubin"Hurricane" Carter, a boxer from Paterson, NJ who was falsely accused and wrong convicted of a triple homicide in 1966.
After originally being arrested on the night of the murder because they fit the description of the suspects ("two Negroes in a white car"), Rubin Carter and John Artis were charged with the murders of three patrons at Lafayette Bar & Grill in Paterson, NJ after two eye witnesses, Alfred Bello and Arthur D. Bradley, made positive identifications of the men. Even though there was no evidence linking Carter and Artis to the crime, they were both found guilty of the triple murder and sentenced to three life prison terms.