Jody Stecher's take on this old ballad is an interesting one. Here is his note to the ballad:
'Old Bangum may not be what it appears to be. There's many tunes and titles and all versions have one thing in common (besides the same basic story): somewhere they all wink. Through nonsense words or an excessively jaunty style of delivery and through the ballad's own imagery a hidden message is given: that this is not to be taken entirely seriously. I think this is something like a bedtime story for boys and that Bangum is a way for a kid to overcome fear, a hero who overcomes fierce enemies with only a boy's resources. Look at Bangum's 'weopons' - a horn, a hound and a wooden knife. Just the stuff lying around the bedroom at sleepytime. Same for the enemies. A stuffed wild boar and a witch (under the bed, stupid!). The boy hears the story and says 'that was REALLY scary! ... tell it again!' [Note in insert to Jody Stecher 'Oh The Wind and Rain: Eleven Ballads' Appleseed APR CD 1030]I have heard only Stecher's and the version from Virginia that I transcribed above, so I can't really comment. However, Mrs McAlexander's performance is delightfully jaunty and I could well imagine its being a ballad counterpart to a bedtime reading of 'Where the Wild Things Are'.