The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #85953   Message #2988319
Posted By: Kent Davis
16-Sep-10 - 07:06 PM
Thread Name: Origins: The Devil's NINE Questions
Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil's NINE Questions
Whether the question "What is meaner than womankind?" is spurious or not, I don't know.

Considering that the Devil is the questioner, and that the one questioned is a woman, and considering that this is the ninth of nine questions to determine her fate, and considering that her answer is "the devil is meaner than womankind", it seems right to me.

Apparently it seemed right to at least the three women in the chain of transmission before Elizabeth LaPrelle. Concerning this version of the ballad, Mike Yates wrote, "We are told that Texas Gladden learnt her version of The Devil's Nine Question from the collector Alfreda Peel, who had previously noted the songs from a Mrs Rill Martin of Mechanicsburg, VA, before passing it on to Texas."

The same question occurs in the version sung by Nancy Philley of Fayetteville, Arkansas, as found in the Max Hunter collection