Broadside ballads > 19. Pierlala

PierlalaListen to this song, performed by Freek de Jonge

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Pierlala, or 'The death of Pierlala', is known to all from the puppet theatre. This carefree commentator originated in an extremely popular song that was reinvented many times since its first appearance in the seventeenth century. The various lyrics (all set to the same melody) describe the life of the rakish, skinny Pierlala, who has himself buried alive in order to be released from army service, and who then climbs out of his coffin to disrupt the funeral party.

Pierlala first appeared around 1675 in a songbook from the Northern Netherlands. In the eighteenth century, Pierlala crossed over to the Southern Netherlands, where he remained popular for a long time. The Belgian town of Ursel still claims to be the parish where Pierlala was born. Every June a folkloric flower parade is organised, with scenes from Pierlala's life on display.

'Pierlala' is performed by Freek de Jonge, accompanied by Willem Schot on concertina (with three rows of keys), Grigori Sarolea on violin and Bouke Feleus on guitar.

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